Celia Nicholas
Celia Nicholas

This year's Independence theme "Our Nation, Our responsibility" resonates with the bold patriotic statement once voiced by the 35th President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy of happy memory. The succinct expression of the selected theme makes and unequivocal declaration, one which all Dominicans in every walk of life and in every part of the world should find favour with.

The well-being of any nation is the respective responsibility of the nationals. They should pilot the growth courses of action. By its very nature, a nation is multifarious. Nonetheless, each of its parts has to be in sync with each other. This allows for growth in all spheres. Each component requires due care and attention. This act culminates in a state of equilibrium.

The calibre of human resource is a determinant of the quality of the civilization existing in a Nation State. Sustained high quality education is the hallmark of many a First World country. A knowledgeable, multi-skilled and talented population equipped with a progressive mindset is fundamental to our nation. Education has transformed lives and continues to do so. In spite of the cost of delivering education, the preparation of our human resource is critical to national development. Developing human capital is a strategic imperative which has to be maintained and improved in "the land that was willed to us" (Jean Lawrence-Mathurin).

The Ministry of Education's systematic incorporation of Technical and Vocational Education and Training adds value to our curriculum at the CSEC level. Innovative subjects namely Entrepreneurship, Tourism, Physical Education and Sport, Performing Arts, Agricultural Science at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) have been launched recently by the Caribbean Examinations Council. These subjects address the needs of the region. Their objectives are to empower young people to work for themselves and create employment for others. An appreciation and respect for cultural heritage is fostered. The preservation of the existing art forms is advocated. The adoption of these modules offered by the Caribbean Examinations Council should have a positive impact on the relatively high rate of unemployment especially among our young men who are losing focus. The Ministry of Education and the Dominica State College need to reconsider their policy as it relates to the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).

Many issues have impacted on teaching - one being the failure to achieve a commendable retention rate of high quality teachers especially in the subject areas of Mathematics and Science. The 2012 to 2021 OECS Education Sector Strategy speaks to this unattended haemorrhage. As a nation how do we intend to address this issue? Is the jury still out?

It is advisable to value teacher success in word and deed. Respect and compensation are due to all professionals. It is our work to "prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world"; certainly, not an enviable task.

The challenges of the twenty-first century are many and varied but the teachers of the Commonwealth of Dominica are disposed to assist every child to imbibe from the cup of success.

Happy independence and may God bless us all.