STATEMENT BY HONOURABLE SHARIE B. DE CASTRO
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, YOUTH AFFAIRS & SPORTS
THIRD SITTING OF THE FIRST SESSION OF THE FIFTH
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
THURSDAY, 7TH SEPTEMBER, 2023
STATEMENT ON THE START OF THE 2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR
Madam Speaker, it is with immense joy and renewed dedication that I acknowledge the start of the 2023-2024 school year. The Ministry of Education remains committed to Moving Virgin Islands Education: Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead. As educators and students begin this new school year, let us recognize the profound significance of education to our beloved territory. Education forms the bedrock of a thriving society. It empowers us, enriches our minds, and equips us with the tools to shape our future.
To our dedicated educators and enthusiastic students, I extend a warm welcome back. Your commitment to teaching and learning is the cornerstone of our educational advancement. Madam Speaker, in this pursuit of excellence, we must remember that education is a collaborative effort. The unwavering support of parents, loved ones, the community, and the private sector plays an instrumental role in nurturing our educational ecosystem.
Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Education recognizes that school infrastructure, professional development for educators, and educational resources play a crucial role in achieving efficient teaching and learning. A conducive and equipped learning environment not only ensures the physical comfort and safety of students but also facilitates engagement and inspiration. Additionally, providing educators with continuous opportunities for professional development empowers them to adapt their teaching methodologies to evolving educational landscapes, ultimately enhancing student outcomes. Equally critical are abundant and up-to-date educational resources, which ignite curiosity, deepen understanding, and encourage critical thinking among students.
Madam Speaker, The Ministry of Education has committed to focusing in on and funding these areas because we believe that when these pillars are robustly established, they synergistically create an ecosystem where effective education thrives, enabling students to unlock their full potential and become lifelong learners.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to report that Professional Day and Summer Institute 2023 held during the week of 28th August to 1st September, was an overwhelming success. On Monday, 28th August, over five hundred (500) educators from public and private schools assembled at the Eileene L. Parsons Auditorium at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College for Professional Day.
During the week of Summer Institute, several training sessions were conducted focusing on Curriculum and Pedagogy, S.T.E.A.M., A.I. and Robotics in Education, Multi-grade Teaching, Professional Conduct, Health and Wellness, Personal Finances, Psychosocial Health and Special Education. Secondary students also participated in a Robotics Workshop that created an opportunity for them to get a glimpse of the innovation that will unfold in their upcoming S.T.E.A.M. Innovations class.
Madam Speaker, the Ministry also welcomed guests to the territory, namely Dr. Maurice Smith, Registrar of the University of the West Indies, Dr. Collin Greene, Principal of the Princess Margaret Secondary School in Antigua, Mr. Chandler Griffin and team from ISENSYS and a team from Walden University’s College of Education who through presentations motivated, inspired and shared their experiences, expertise and programmes with educators.
Madam Speaker, I believe that our educators are enthusiastic and equipped to welcome students to all public schools on Monday, 11th September, 2023.
In conclusion Madam Speaker, as a territory as we embark on this new academic year, let us collectively embrace the theme of "Moving Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead." This signifies our dedication to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics - an interdisciplinary approach that cultivates holistic growth and equips us for the challenges and opportunities of the future.
The challenges of our time call for a generation skilled not only in academic knowledge but also in critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, innovation, and collaboration. These are the skills that will enable us to navigate an ever-evolving world with confidence and competence. Madam Speaker, with enthusiasm and determination, let us collectively pledge to make this academic year one of growth, discovery, and accomplishment. Together, we shall shape a brighter future for our Virgin Islands.