By Simon Lewis, BIS
Sweeting's Cay, Bahamas – Education Minister, the Hon. T. Desmond Bannister on Friday past made a special trip to Sweeting’s Cay, Grand Bahama where he saluted the outstanding achievements of students from the Sweeting’s Cay All Age School. Addressing parents and students during a special Prize Giving and Graduation Ceremony held at St. Michael’s Anglican Church, the Minister also took note of the overall improvements nationwide in the 2009/2010 national examinations saying that his Ministry and the country has reason to celebrate.
“Today, I am pleased to congratulate the Sweeting’s Cay ‘Fabulous Five’ for their remarkable accomplishment in this year’s BJC examination. These students were able to attain 100 percent passes in six subjects including Mathematics, English and two Sciences. They achieved a total of 19 As, 9 Bs and 2 Cs.
Dubbed the “Fabulous Five” by Mr. Bannister, Monica Duncombe, Elvano Feaster, Rashad Mitchell, Janet Pyfrom and James Strachan made the outstanding achievements in just their first sitting and secured 100 percent passes in every subject area.
Strachan secured five As in General Science, Mathematics, Health Science, Religious Studies and Social Studies, along with a ‘B’ in English.
Duncombe picked up four ‘As” in Mathematics, Health Science, Religious Studies and Social Studies, and 2 ‘Bs’ in General Science and English.
Mitchell collected 4 ‘As’ in General Science, Mathematics, Health Science and Social Studies, along with a ‘B’ in Religious Studies and a ‘C’ in English.
Pyfrom got 3 ‘As’ in Health Science, Religious Studies and Social Studies, along with 3 ‘Bs’ in General Science, English and Mathematics.
Feaster claimed ‘As’ in General Science, Health Science and Social Studies, and 2 ‘Bs’ in Mathematics and Religious Studies, along with a ‘C’ grade in English.
“This is a phenomenal achievement and one that we must put in the national spotlight so that others can acquire this formula for success,” the Minister stated.
Continuing he stated that something very good has happened at Sweeting’s Cay All Age School. He said that he was told that when Balram Dhani came to the school as principal back in 2006, he met a situation where some children could not read or write or do basic mathematics.
“He devised a plan to correct this anomaly. He decided that three subjects were not sufficient for students to be sitting if they were to realistically have a solid foundation for senior high school and ultimately the work world. With this in mind he added more subjects to the examination schedule.
“Realising that the success of this initiative depended on a partnership between the school and the community, he reached out and asked parents to become more involved in their children’s education.
Another component of Mr. Dhani’s master plan was the students. He sought their buy-in into the plan. This meant coming to school on Saturdays, Sundays and even holidays. The final ingredient was teachers, who agreed to go beyond their normal working hours to tutor students after hours.
“The result of this grand experiment was that the first group of students in 2008 who sat six subjects for the first time in the schools history had a 96 percent success rate. In 2009, the second group achieved a 92 percent success rate and this year 2010, the Fabulous Five achieved a 100 percent passes,” he said.
The Education Minister added that it matters not if it is a school of 30 students or a school of 1,300 because we all have a role to play in our nation’s development through education.
He told students that attending a small school gives one a wonderful opportunity to receive the type of individualised attention that students in some of the bigger schools may not be able to get.
“In fact, in some schools there are more students in one class than you may have in the entire school, so you students have a special reason to diligently apply yourself to your studies every day.
“Your academic success opens the window to other achievements in life by instilling in each of you a greater sense of self-worth and confidence. You know that your results show that you are just as talented as the children from any other community anywhere else in The Bahamas,” he stated.
He further challenged that students saying that their success must therefore be transferred to their B.G.C.S.E. studies and then to their application to the world of work.
Pointing out that they have establish a culture of success at Sweeting’s Cay All-Age School, the Minister believes that they can transfer that culture of excellence to other schools in Grand Bahama, New Providence and the Family Islands.
He again reminded the gathering that the renaissance at Sweeting’s Cay All-Age School could not have occurred were it not for the collective will of the residents.
“I am told that this spirit of academic success has become so pervasive that the students when they reach the 9th grade are expecting the extra hours of study and the discipline involved in the process.
“I urge parents that while we celebrate this momentous success, we must continue to create an environment which is conducive to learning by engaging our children in activities which stimulate the acquisition of even more skills. Continue to work closely with the school.
“Where there are problems, seek to work them out peacefully. It is silly to hold your child out of school and impede them in their educational pursuits for any reason whatsoever,” he stated.
He went on to commend the teachers for their hard work and the principal for his leadership and commitment to the school and community.
He said that the school principal, Mr. Dhani, is a man who knows personally the benefits of someone taking a personal interest in his education when he has had his challenges.
Also in Sweeting’s Cay for the event was the Member of Parliament for High Rock and Minister of Housing the Hon. A. Kenneth Russell, along with other senior education and government officials.