Merry Christmas Virgin Islands! I’m Myron V. Walwyn, Minister for Education and Culture and your Territorial Representative. It gives me pleasure to bring greetings to one all as we celebrate the birth of our saviour, Jesus Christ during this 2016 holiday season.
When I consider the sacrifice of God, or even Mary, to sacrifice their only son so that you and I might have a chance at life, I remain in awe of that Agape love that God demonstrated then and continues to prove as he protects and guides our lives. In the Virgin Islands, I believe we can still say, we are truly blessed.
We have had quiet hurricane seasons for many years now. Our people still have a chance at opportunities at home. We enjoy the rights, protections and safety of living in a vibrant democracy, and each day as we are surrounded by bountiful green hills, cool trade winds and our turquoise blue waters, we should all remain thankful for the gift of life and the protections we are afforded.
To me, life also brings with it, responsibility. Our saviour died so that we can have life forever, and in our living, I believe we should endeavour to demonstrate Christ-like behaviour; practising love for our family and friends, respect for our neighbours and empathy for those less fortunate around us. Particularly at Christmas time, I believe that we should embody a spirit of giving. Not empty gifts for vanity and praise, but the gift of our time to those that might need a helping hand, items for someone in need, and as good citizens our talents to help advance our Territory.
Second Corinthians 9:6-8 tells us, "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
As we give to one another, God has promised to bless us abundantly. I hope that during this Christmas season, that scripture will resonate with you and inspire you to give to members of our community who might be less fortunate than you. I pray that we all will find it in our hearts to also in that giving, offer up a word of prayer for our country. That as we approach a new year, God will continue to bless us as we continue to be a blessing to others.
I would like to encourage us as well, during this Christmas season, to consider the goodness and the blessings of Christ Jesus on our country. Very often we concentrate too much on what we don’t have and what we see wrong and not enough on what God has blessed us with and what we have done right through His grace and mercy.
Christmas is a time of thanksgiving, for showing our appreciation for family and friends, and it is also a time for much reflection. As 2016 winds down, I find myself thinking about my goals for this year and going down my list of what has been accomplished, and what is still to be done. As we do this, I encourage you also to remember that God’s gift of another day also means we have another opportunity to make another effort towards improvements.
As I consider all that we have done in the Ministry of Education and Culture, I know that there are goals still to be completed, but we can also celebrate the many accomplishments of 2016. Within this past year we saw:
- The realisation of a large investment by Government in technology in our schools, with the purchase of 350 laptops for our Grade 5 students for the integration of information, communications and technology in the teaching and learning process; along with 20 Promethean Activ Panels for our secondary schools.
- We also signed an MOU with telecom providers FLOW and Digicel to provide internet access to our schools, affording both teachers and students the opportunity to get online in the classroom, do more research and complete assignments faster.
- We continued our investment in training our education professionals in various areas and in May, we certified our first cohort of licensed Virgin Islands Teachers, whose training we can already see is having a positive impact on our schools.
- And we have been able to commence work on the thirty two classrooms needed at Elmore Stoutt High School and will provide the needed classrooms at the Bregado Flax Education Center in Virgin Gorda.
These are just a few of the things we have done in my Ministry in 2016 and I thank God each day for using me as a servant to help to make life better for his people.
With great anticipation, I look forward to the progress we will make as a Ministry and as a country in 2017. For our part in the Ministry of Education and Culture, we will continue to:
- Provide opportunities for our young people to expand their learning in all areas.
- Further promote our National Youth Parliament and establish the National Youth Council.
- Continue to provide training and professional development opportunities for our education administrators and practitioners.
- We will continue the infrastructure developments at Elmore Stoutt High School and Bregado Flax Educational Centre to provide a greater separation between our Junior and Senior High School students.
- We will continue to foster an appreciation for institutions to promote national pride and appreciation for the Virgin Islands.
Before I go, permit me to offer my sincerest thanks to the hardworking men and women of the Ministry of Education and Culture and our related departments and units. This year has been a year of transition for us in the Ministry. Many of our plans and policies since we began our journey towards a culture of excellence, were implemented and we are now at the point where we are evaluating their success.
Throughout it all, staff members have been a source of knowledge for me, encouragement and a constant reminder that throughout this great Territory, we have many persons working towards the development of our young people, our education system, and in total, the development of our Territory. I would like to wish all of you a merry Christmas and I say thank you for giving so much through your service to the Virgin Islands. I must also thank our public servants for their hard work and dedication for the tasks in 2016 and I know they will give even more in 2017 as we build our country together.
On behalf of my family, and the men and women of the Ministry of Education and Culture, I thank you for your continued prayers and blessings for our Territory, and we wish one and all, a warm and joyous Virgin Islands Christmas and a prosperous 2017. Merry Christmas everyone.