Good afternoon.




It is always a pleasure to be among individuals who embody, celebrate and promote the ideal of excellence.  I therefore wish to thank the LASCO Group of Companies for their invitation to Lady Allen and me to participate in this year’s Teacher and Principal of the Year Awards, in honour of outstanding educators who have shown excellence in their professional pursuits and community development.  As many of you know, I am not unfamiliar with the classroom.  Not only have I been the direct beneficiary of numerous levels of quality investment by many teachers, I was integrally involved in the profession from which one never graduates.  I am also cognizant of the unique opportunities that you have as well as the challenges that beset this noble profession.


I wish to commend LASCO for its visionary initiative in establishing ‘The LASCO Salute to Teachers’ and Teacher of the Year Award in 1998.  Since 2005, you have partnered with the Ministry of Education in the Principal of the Year Award.  These are fitting tributes to educators who have given outstanding service in nation-building and who have excelled.


LASCO’s noteworthy approach to citizen empowerment proves the connection that remains between good corporate citizenship and profitability.  LASCO has demonstrated many of the traits that we laud in our teachers today: 


  • Resilience,
  • Dedication and
  • Excellence. 


This model of synergistic partnership between the Ministry of Education and LASCO, shows that it is possible for private and public sector interests to work together for national development.   It shows how exceptionally we as a people can excel when we pool our resources, objectives and energies.  I can only add my voice to those who have already thanked LASCO for this significant contribution.


Teachers as nation-builders

Our teachers are part of the rich history of this country’s development:  you have journeyed along the same paths, faced the same hurdles, climbed the same mountains, and forded the same waters that have challenged all areas of our society.  And you have triumphed.  In your hands, you hold daily the future of many.  You have molded the minds of individuals in all professional walks of life.  You have formed nation-builders of the immediate and protracted future, hence the significance of the occasion which brings us together this afternoon.


Philosophy of Education

As you pause today to celebrate teaching and excellence in education, I would like you to contemplate for a moment that your achievement is the outcome of a philosophy of education that you have embraced.  Professor George Knight in his book, Philosophy of Education says that: ‘Education is a deliberate process with a desired goal . . . educators must have some basis for arriving at that goal.’


That philosophy guided you to an understanding of the fact that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. As educators it is your responsibility to help students meet their fullest potential by providing an environment that is safe, supports risk-taking, and invites the sharing of ideas.

In this positive learning environment, teachers are the guides who allow the natural curiosity of their students to explore the expanse of knowledge and direct their learning.   As they ask Metaphysical, epistemological and axiological questions such as:  What is real?; What is true, and how do we know?; What are the values that must shape our behaviours and attitudes and help us to be aesthetically aware?; you must be able to help them judge what they can accept as truth, and open up diverse options in their quest for knowledge.

When students ask about reality, not if they ask, because they will, teachers must ground the educational exchange in developing the students to be thinkers who can later become creative and productive workers.  They must understand the nature, source and validity of knowledge.  Education must have at its foundation – the search for truth. It is in this quest for truth that knowledge is validated.  And while making a judgment on what is truth, education should tolerate an understanding of contending perspectives.

Teachers, along with parents, have the responsibility to teach our children values.  In the classroom ‘teachers cannot hide their moral selves’ (Knight).  When you promote respect for all things and all people, you are teaching your students not only to acquire and process information, but also learning styles and values.   As you help them to distinguish between good and bad ethical behaviour, moral values and conduct, you are their role models.  Hopefully, they will be the generation that will rise above ‘the moral turpitude that threatens to destroy the tangible principles on which our nation was founded.’ 

Help your students ‘not to sacrifice honesty, integrity, responsibility and trustworthiness for the sake of making money quickly.’  Teach them to ‘embrace the values that will develop a just society and define us as a people – respect, fairness, punctuality, forgiveness, sharing, caring and a helping hand. These values must remain an indestructible part of the fabric of our nation.’  Last but not least, help then to appreciate what is beautiful and to feel uncomfortable in a decaying, moultly environment.  They must become aware, caring and active members of society.



Ladies and gentlemen, as we gather here today to commend, highlight and reward excellence in education, we value the contributions made by our teachers to the development of our communities and our nation.  You are the ones who have accepted the challenge to: “Give and not count the cost; fight and not heed the wound; toil and not seek for rest, labour and not ask for reward, save that of knowing that God’s will is done.”


You have met the stringent selection criteria and demonstrated that your schools, communities, colleagues, and your students and their parents have all recognized your commitment to education, community involvement and your classroom competency.  I offer my congratulations to you.


With these awards, LASCO will inspire and motivate more teachers and principals to be exemplars of the highest standards of professionalism through outstanding service and creative teaching. This prestigious honour will enable you to serve as beacons of excellence for those in your profession.  Your lives are a testimony that despite the challenges being faced in the education system, it is still possible to be passionate and dedicated to changing the lives of students.  I believe you perfectly demonstrate my consistent theme that:  There is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica.’


However, the journey is not yet over. You cannot become complacent or lose sight of your goals.  Do not be daunted by your challenges, but always overcome each challenge with grit and resolve. In that way you are charting the future of our great nation.


Ladies and Gentlemen, please accept my continued support and best wishes for your work. Thank you.