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Teacher Appreciation Day '99

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Statement By Minister for Education, Human Resource Development, Youth & Sports - Honourable Mario Michel

Today Tuesday October 5th is being observed world wide as International Teachers Day and here in St. Lucia the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development, Youth and Sports joins with the St. Lucia Teachers Union in commemorating this day of tribute to our teachers.

International Teachers Day provides us with a special opportunity to reflect on the importance of the teacher in our society and to note with deep appreciation the incalculable contribution that teachers have made to the process of national development and in the personal development of almost everyone of us.

It has been said that half of us is what we make of ourselves and the other half is made by others. If this is so then there can be little doubt that of the other half of us which is made by others a very profound and powerful part has been produced by our teachers. Teachers touch our lives in significant ways they guide our acquisition of knowledge, they facilitate our personal growth and they stimulate the development of our personalities and our imaginations.

Without the dedication and devotion to duty of our teachers over the years many of our most successful citizens would have not achieved as much as they have. Our greatest achievers have been molded and encouraged by their teachers. Conversely, many of those who have fallen by the wayside can point to their failure to heed the guidance and counsel of their teachers or to their general inattention to learning.

In St. Lucia today our teachers hold in their hands the fortunes and futures of some 42,000 children and young persons and, by extension, the fortune and future of our nation as a whole. These 42,000 children and young persons often spend more time with their teachers than they do with their own parents or, indeed, with virtually anybody else. Our teachers one would appreciate therefore are a very different and special part of the work force of our country.

It is for this reason that I would like to declare October 5th each year as Teachers Appreciation Day in St. Lucia, to be observed alongside International Teachers Day. Henceforth, on the 5th day of October every year, we should as a nation seek to find ways and means of expressing appreciation to our teachers for the contribution which they have made and are continuing to make to our individual lives and to our country as a whole. In ways however small we should on this day let our teachers know that we as parents, as students, as members of the community recognize and value their contribution a simple gift of flowers, an appreciation card, a PTA organized event, or some other gesture to demonstrate our appreciation of the teachers in our community and our country.

The Government of St. Lucia through the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development, Youth and Sports has in recent times been working closely with the teachers of St. Lucia to develop new directions in education in the country. We have included representatives of the teachers on all major decision-making committees of the Ministry so as to give teachers a real say in the management of the education system. We have prepared an Education Development Plan to guide the development of the education system in St. Lucia to the year 2005 and beyond and have involved the teachers at every stage in the development of the Plan. We have incorporated the views of teachers across the country in the revision of our national education legislation and have at their request, inserted into the Draft Education Act a clear statement of the rights and entitlements of teachers alongside the enumeration of their duties and responsibilities. The Act, when it comes into law shortly, will also contain several measures designed to protect the interests of teachers generally and the safety and integrity of their working environment in particular. The legislation in effect, will contain a comprehensive codification of the rights, entitlements, duties and responsibilities of teachers along with measures designed to protect them as workers and as citizens of our country. This I am confident will help make the teachers of our country more comfortable and contented, as indeed they ought to be, given their critical role in the development of our nation.

As we observe International Teachers Day 1999, I want on behalf of the students and parents of our country and on behalf of the Government and people of St. Lucia as a whole to wish every teacher in St. Lucia a special day and to urge all of our teachers to continue to give their best in the noble task of educating the children of our nation.


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