You are potential world-class opinion shapers and leaders.
That was what President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) Cedric Murrell told the 2017 graduating class of the National Education Outreach School (NEOS) last Saturday evening during the ceremony at the L V Harcourt Lewis Building, Dalkeith Road, St Michael.
The NEOS, which is sponsored by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), was conceptualized by former general secretary Dennis Clarke and retired principal Jeff Broomes to assist union members’ children who were preparing for the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE). It was introduced three years ago, when over 3,000 public workers were retrenched and it was felt the workers would not have had the financial resources to pay for extra tuition for their children to prepare for the BSSEE.
“You are already opinion shapers and leaders because you are influencing your peers by putting in that extra effort to do well in the examination,” Murrell told the graduates.
“The student who we were told already displays great skill at football can influence his peers at his new school. The student who does well in the examination will influence his neighbourhood and community. We all have the ability to influence people and shape opinions,” he added, identifying outstanding Barbadians such as Rihanna, Sir Garfield Sobers, George Lamming, and Errol Barrow as opinion shapers.
The trade unionist also pointed out to his young audience that with the advent of the Internet, an individual can shape public opinion very easily.
During his address, Murrell pointed out to the children that their attendance at classes every Saturday morning, after a full week of classes at school, was an indication of their interest in benefiting from the extra tuition.
He also lauded Broomes and other tutors for providing their time and services free of charge, noting that at a time when the community’s influence on children appeared to be waning, it was good to see retired educators making an attempt to influence children in a formal setting.
Meantime, Murrell advised the graduates to volunteer to help enhance the quality of life within their communities, noting that former United States president Barack Obama began his political career as a community leader.
“You have the potential to be the best that you can be. There are fields to conquer in your new schools,” he added.
Valedictorian of the class was Christian Prescod who gained 98 per cent in English and 96 in Mathematics. Another student of the NEOS, Ayanna St Hill, gained 100 per cent in English.