“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire” – William Butler Yeats
As a past student of Moneague College, I am flooded with memories of the years when I walked the halls of this prestigious institution and a fire was lit in my own soul. This is where I developed a thirst for knowledge and a vocation for the education of others. My experience and that of countless others proved that the true legacy of Moneague is: preparing people to contribute to Jamaica’s progress. I am elated, therefore, to participate in this historic occasion and honoured to have been asked to participate in the opening of this newly erected lecture theatre.
Lady Allen and I wish to thank the Board, the principal and staff for inviting us to join you in the ceremony today. I am also delighted that the lecture theatre is being named in honour of the Founder and former Principal, Dr. Aubrey Phillips, and that the Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips, as a link from the beginning, is here to join us in paying tribute to the memory of his father, educator par excellence.
In 1956 Moneague opened its doors, as a teacher training college with 104 students. Today, it is a vibrant, multi-disciplinary institution which has not forgotten its first core activity, that of pedagogy, as shown by the numerous times on which Moneague has won the DRB Grant Prize for early childhood education. But even despite these activities and these prizes the road has not always been easy:
§ In 1985 various challenges resulted in the closure of the College for a few years.
§ A massive fire of August 2010 destroyed the multi-purpose block in the original building that was formerly the Moneague Hotel.
Despite the difficulties of the global economy:
- Moneague accelerated the construction of the Gloria Johnson Multipurpose Building that was completed and dedicated in November, 2010.
- In April, this year, Moneague opened yet another building to provide offices for the lecturers who had been displaced by the 2010 fire.
- Today, we are celebrating the opening of the Dr. Aubrey Phillips Lecture Theatre
This is not the end of the vision for the physical expansion of Moneague to meet the increasing demands for cutting-edge education and skills training, especially for rural students who wish not to go to the city. So you see Moneague knows how to rise for the occasion and not roll over and die.
If there is one educational institution which reflects the tenets of my ‘I Believe Initiative’, it is the Moneague College. Its Motto “Serving to the Heights of Excellence” is no vain boasting. Hardships and challenges seem to bring out the best not only in its Board and Faculty, but also in the students, both past and present and also the supporters.
So the “Can Do Spirit” is evident here, forged as it was in the vision of Dr. Aubrey Phillips who was committed to forming great teachers who were well-rounded individuals. He would be very proud to see what that dream has evolved to be today. He believed that education should peak the curiosity, inspire and broaden perspective. He could well have endorsed the posture of William Arthur Ward that: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teach3ver inspires.”It is that inspiration that has evolved into what we are seeing today.
Moneague College has a long tradition of producing graduates with a thirst for learning; graduates who have made significant contributions to national development, and who have had tremendous positive impact on the lives of others. I commend the past and present Board members, principals and staff for maintaining the rich history and tradition of the college.
The Dr. Aubrey Phillips Lecture Theatre will no doubt facilitate the College’s delivery of its objectives, inter alia, “to make tertiary education more accessible to a larger number of rural based persons.”
Let me encourage you Principal Isaacs to continue delivering, with the staff, the kind of education that inspires and stimulates thought and fosters positive builders for Jamaica’s development. God bless you all.