By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff
While indicating that he did not intend to dabble in the political affairs of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education in Jamaica Dr Maurice Smith yesterday declared that he thinks the BVI education minister is doing an excellent job and will ‘reap the fruit of his labour’.
He noted that the minister, Myron Walwyn, remained steadfast despite criticisms when he initially announced an initiative to ensure all principals in the territory are licensed.
Walwyn had maintained that the licensure programme is to improve the quality and accountability of leadership across all public schools, adding that educational institutions with better leaders usually do better academically.
To undertake the training programme, the BVI government spent at least US$85,000 to hire Dr Smith and a group from the National College of Educational Leadership (NCEL) based in Jamaica. Dr Smith, at the time, was principal of NCEL – not yet permanent secretary in Jamaica’s education ministry.
Speaking at a ceremony where 19 out of 27 participants were awarded licenses after successfully completing the training, Dr Smith lauded the education minister for having the vision and fortitude to push ahead with the initiative. Thirteen other principals and senior teachers are still undergoing training.
Dr Smith said: “Minister Walwyn, please forgive me sir, but I remember when I came two years ago. At first, there was this push back, and look at us now. You stuck to the task, Minister.”
“I can say this: I am not a politician; I am not related to one; I have no vote here on the island, but Minister you are leading the charge and – from where I sit – I believe you are doing an excellent job,” Dr Smith said yesterday (May 24), and attracted a resounding round of applause inside the Eileen Parsons Auditorium on Tortola.
He further encouraged the education minister: “I want to encourage you, despite the push back, despite the criticisms, you have set the direction, you have charted the course, and you are going to reap the fruit of your labour.”
Dr Smith, in the meantime, urged the 19 licensed principals and senior teachers to be a beacon for their schools and communities.
“Change your schools, change your communities. Do not be a victim of the institution, but rather be a beacon for the community,” he said.
“I want to challenge our principals and I want to challenge our minister, and I want to challenge all here present this evening, whatever it is that you have to do, just get up and do it… There are those who believe that nothing good comes from the Caribbean; there are those who think that anything small is subservient. Well, we have come to dispel that notion this evening. There are barriers that have been put on us as a people, and the Ministry of Education and culture is disproving and dispelling that myth; you are crossing the threshold,” added Dr Smith.
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