[www.inewsguyana.com] – Guyana’s massive investments in the education sector continue to reap rich harvests for the country. This was amply manifested, when four local students garnered rich returns for excellent performances at the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).
On December 4, the country was the show piece of the Region, as four Guyanese students picked up specialised awards for their outstanding performances, at this year’s Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams.
The prestigious award for Most Outstanding Candidate Overall was taken by Elisa Hamilton from Queen’s College; this by itself contributing to Queens’s College, taking away the Most Outstanding School accolade.
Hamilton achieved grade ones in 19 subjects: Agricultural Science (double award): Biology: Chemistry: English A; English B; Food and Nutrition; French; Geography; Home Economics Management; Information Technology; Integrated Science; Mathematics; Physics; Principles of Business; Social Studies; Spanish; Electronic Document Preparation and Management; Physical Education and Sport; Human and Social Biology; and a grade two in Religious Education.
The Most Outstanding Award for Humanities went to another Queen’s College prodigy, Aliyyah Abdul Kadir. She scored grade ones in 15 subjects. Ryhan Chand, yet another from Queen’s College, took home the Most Outstanding Student in Business award, chalking up grade ones in 13 subjects. The final student, Kishan Critchlow, of New Amsterdam Multilateral School, broke the Queen’s College sequence; he was awarded the Most Outstanding Student in Technical/Vocation Education.
The students’ tokens for their excellent output were quite substantial-a plaque of recognition, a cash prize and a dictionary, for each of them. The tokens were buttressed with promissory letters for full scholarships, to pursue studies at the Mona Campus, contingent upon their completing and excelling at the CAPE exams.
No wonder the Guyanese explained that they were continuing studies at the CAPE level, hoping to attend UWI in the near future.
In 2013, Guyana won five of the eight awards offered. The winners were: Yogeeta Persaud-Anna Regina Secondary School, Overall Outstanding Achievement; Rafena Mustapha-Saraswati Vidya Niketan, Most Outstanding in Humanities; Cecil Cox-Queen’s College, Most Outstanding in Sciences; Sasha S Woodroffe-Queen’s College, Most Outstanding in Business Studies; and Zimeena A Rasheed-Anna Regina Secondary School, Most Outstanding in Technical Vocational.
The night was a double feature, as students for both CSEC and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exams (CAPE) were honoured, at a ceremony, attended by officials and dignitaries from across the Region at the regional headquarters of the University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston, Jamaica.
Professor Nigel Harris ,Vice Chancellor and Chairman of UWI, in his feature address to the students, not only complimented them, but also exhorted that they ‘press on’ as much as possible, both in terms of their academic lives and in being engaged in extra-curricular activities.
He admonished that academic studies and extra-curricular activities mould characters; they work in tandem, and one is not at the expense of the other. The soon-to-exit UWI Head pointed out that the awardees all debunked the myth that academics are not normal people.
Professor Harris explained that he was very cognisant of the fact that too many people criticise the top students, unjustly chiding them for sitting a plethora of subjects, thinking that this creates imbalances and peculiarities in them. He highlighted the startling reality, that the awardees were all well-rounded and gifted, being proficient in a number of non-academic areas-sports, dancing, singing, and debating.
He further opined that even though “Knowledge learning is important, there are a number of (other) important things. The book knowledge is not always important… being able to communicate and speak as well… other interests such as debating will make you rounded individuals. And I know we don’t have nerds here, like people think.”
Harris’ joy must have been immense on the occasion, as he himself is Guyanese and a former Queen’s College student. He is a UWI stalwart and is set to leave UWI Mona, in May 2015.
He acknowledged that the students’ achievements, high as they are at the moment, form only the first steps to success. “You can’t slack off now; if you want these scholarships, you have to continue working.”
Harris was quick to point out, that even though the West Indies is not trouble-free and is still facing a number of challenges, the CXC and CAPE remain stirring examples of the Region’s succeeding and producing brilliant people of the highest merit-scholars, politicians and academics for the future.