salute to T&T scholar patriots
again, the good news of the academic success of Trinidad
and Tobago teenagers struck a bright and hopeful note against
a national background in which much induces gloom so regularly.
Based on results achieved in the 2008 Caribbean Advanced
Proficiency and GCE A-Level examinations, 167 girls and
90 boys gained government scholarships.
Its a rare, win-win moment for the national school
system, for high-performing students and teachers, and for
Exulting in the positives of the announcement, Education
Minister Esther Le Gendre said the total of 257 open
and additional scholarships cost just under
It was a sum, she implied, the Cabinet was happy to commit
to support the aspirations of young people described as
fine examples of the all-round approach to school
The finest of the nations scholars, we are assured,
are not narrowly focused, bookish, nerds.
Ms Le Gendre noted that one scholarship winner, chosen for
the award of the Presidents Medal, had, in fact, placed
in the top five of the 2001 Secondary Entrance Examination.
Suitable recognition is obviously owed to such a scholar,
keeping consistently to a high-achievement pathway.
While expanding educational and training opportunities,
the Government should seek to encourage and foster highest-level
proficiency equally by members of a T&T student elite,
matching strides with the best of their peers around the
It is a need the Government appears to have recognised.
The scholarship recipients will have been enabled to complete
first degrees, which some of them have already begun pursuing.
On Monday, however, Finance Minister Karen Nunez-Tesheiras
budget address offered further incentives to students whose
high performance continues into their undergraduate final
Those gaining first-class honour degrees, she said, could
expect scholarships toward doctoral studies.
Another immediately heartening sign is that at least some
scholarship winners are making open declarations of intent
to return to T&T at the end of their training abroad.
This has been reported of one Presidents Medal winner
and also of Central Trinidad scholarship winners from secondary
schools newly emerging into distinction.
Certainly, T&T needs all the trained human resources
its expanding economy can absorb and retain.
Home is always where the heart is. Still, quality-of-life
considerations, given rise to by rampant crime for one thing,
are not invariably such as would induce nationals with internationally
marketable skills to live here indefinitely.
Reports of crime-afflicted T&T business people voting
with their feet to make it elsewhere point up a distressing
potential loss of critically needed citizens.
In their turn, the best-intentioned scholar patriots can
hardly be expected indefinitely to endure a social and physical
environment degraded by the official failure to contain
crime and maintain adequate standards of livability.
For the sake of T&T, it must be hoped that home-based
opportunities will prove attractive enough to secure the
return of home-grown talent and ability honed by advanced
It would be self-defeating if the States scholarship
programme should prove to contribute to the brain drain
that has been for too long a liability for T&T and similarly-positioned
A glance at the listing reveals a conspicuous number of
scholarship winners in the fields of science, environmental,
and business studies.
Its a good sign that secondary schools and their best
students are being encouraged toward disciplines of greater
immediate and future relevance.
This country is being challenged to supply the quantity
and quality of jobs in those fields to meet the demand for
them its future high-end graduates can be expected to make.
Meanwhile, we can all join in the salute to our young scholarship
winners, and to the socially conscious and nationalistic
sentiments attributed to at least some of them.