We must learn from our best performers in order to improve performance across the board

Dear Editor,

 

I would be pleased to have an opportunity to present, to a wider audience, views and attitudes which I had sought to engender in the address that I gave at       last Thursday’s (2013-10-31) “National Best Performers Ceremony”, hosted annually by our Ministry of Education – views and attitudes which I had sought to capture in the title of my address, but which seemed to have been missed by our reporters in their reporting.

Our National Best Performers in Education, indeed in any and all social and economic activities, are our torchbearers who are out at front, whether from their natural gifts, or in whatever circumstances.  They show what we can actually achieve, and we must celebrate them and their achievements.  I also called on our national best performers to take other students along.  I would not be surprised if many are already doing so – my experience, which has been noticed and written on by others, is that nothing helps us so much in broadening and deepening our own knowledge and performance, as when we assist others and try to bring others along with us.

More broadly, as a nation, we must learn from our best performers, and performances, in order to improve performance across the board and all around in education, and to improve the performance of every child, and in every subject.

In my address, I pointed to examples this year, and over recent years, which demonstrate that our “national best” performers have come from all across our country, and from all situations.  I pointedly referred to the examples of Mr. Wilfred Success at West Ruimveldt Primary School and Mr. Maydha Persaud at Abram Zuil, and in another address, pointed out that they had no better physical conditions, no better books, no apparent better intake of students and no greater pay, to account for their outstanding successes.  I believe that their level of success could become more widespread, as more of us accept that the challenge in life is to do the best we can with what we have today, for a better tomorrow.

Yes, we need more, but they, like many of us in our different ways, have been making a little go a long way when you look at our GDP and per capita expenditures, in comparison with other countries.

The harvest cannot be shared before it is brought in, but only some time after we would have ploughed the fields and scattered the good seeds, inspected and tended the fields earnestly day by day, and engaged in lots of hard work buttressed by many prayers.  And we have naught to share – no more, no less, than the harvest which we would have brought in.  To have more to be shared around, we have to work for, and bring in, better harvests.

In my address, I called for learning from each other, citizen to citizen, so that the good and bad experiences, both successful and unsuccessful, of each, should be known to all.  I referred to the period of the 1970s and 80s, when steel production in Japan had leaped ahead in efficiency numbers and in quality and variety of steels, surpassing producers in the west who were bemoaning the fact that if one steel company in Japan had learnt a better way in the morning, you could be sure that by afternoon every steel company in Japan was doing it in that better way.  And this was being repeated for hundreds of thousands of small “better ways” throughout all that was involved in steelmaking, and indeed throughout the country.  That was the period when all Japanese were caught up in “Quality Circles”, regularly sharing the millions of good and bad experiences as they produced, starting from the level of the lowest production in unit and learning from those experiences.

And I referred in my address to a similar lament about two decades ago by someone from the West, about finding in China a situation where it seemed that to have taught one Chinese person something was to have taught all 1.4 billion!

We must learn from each other, from each other’s experiences- good and bad, successful and unsuccessful.  As I had said in my closing remarks, when I had called on our best performers to assist and to take other students along, we look to the many instances of mutual assistance and kindness in schools to contribute significantly in creating bonds of greater cohesion in future generations, in our country.

We look to our national best performers to bring us, the less successful, along, and we must learn from our best performers and performances not only for more rapid material progress, but also to engender greater natural cohesion in the process of learning from each other.

 

Yours faithfully,
Prime Minister Sam Hinds

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