Nandita and Nandaki Keshavan should be very proud, so too
should Preeya Mohan, for their achievements at the Cambridge
Indeed, the nation should be proud of their performances
since they were able to place among the top students in
the world. In all, nine students from T&T placed in
top-ten positions in the examinations.
The achievement by these teenagers comes at a time when
young people and T&Ts education system are under
the microscope. Quite often the local education system is
described as lacking or inadequate for the needs of todays
It is true that a lot needs to be done with education, from
the physical infrastructure to the content taught in schools.
At the same time, these young people have shown that T&T
is able to produce world-class achievers.
That should come as no surprise. For decades Trinidadians
and Tobagonians have distinguished themselves around the
world, taking their place in major corporations. They have
been able to do that by building on the education they received
in T&T, whether secondary or tertiary.
Many of these professionals are also returning to these
shores to make their contribution, taking up positions in
the energy sector and some being attracted to lecture at
the University of T&T.
They are taking their place among many professionals who
have been educated locally and who make their contribution
to the private and public sectors.
That having been said, the success of T&Ts education
system is not only about the top achievers. Every year upwards
of 11,000 students sit the SEA exam. What becomes of the
majority of those students should be of major concern. That
is where Government should be focusing its efforts, ensuring
that there are sufficient schools, that students are well
equipped and that the syllabus is relevant to todays
Todays young people face a barrage of challenges,
from the pull of gang life to the break-up of families.
The Guardians series on teen pregnancy revealed a
world that few adults themselves understand and was instructive
in the way teens and even pre-teens cope with sex and sexuality.
It is important to note that the top achievers interviewed
by the Guardian had strong support from their families.
The influence of the family cannot be overestimated, a fact
that is often appreciated when it is lacking.
For every top achiever like those featured in the Guardian
there are numerous others who are highlighted in less favourable
circumstances, as being involved in crime or gang violence,
for example. Those are the children whom the education system
and the family have failed and they have just as much influence
on T&T as top achievers through their activities.
Even a world-class education system cannot be a substitute
for a strong family unit, either a nuclear family or, as
is common in T&T, a more extended family. Our young
people have shown that they are capable of achieving. It
is up to the adults in societyespecially mothers and
fathersto take up the responsibility of nurturing
the nations children.