Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2005
By Stephen Kangal
On Thursday 13 October 2005
Forty -Sixth Graduation Ceremony
we honour and pay tribute to our 46th class of graduates. You the
graduates have applied themselves in true Hillview tradition. You have
accordingly brought honour and glory to yourselves, your parents and the
Greater Tunapuna community as well as to your Alma Mater, Hillview
College. You have also brought glory and renown to Trinidad and Tobago
because you attained top world ranking in Mathematics and Physics.
Fiftieth Golden Anniversary
ceremony is also being held to commemorate a landmark event- the
Golden, 50th Anniversary of Hillview College. From the humble makeshift
beginnings in Sherrif Street in Tunapuna to this modern educational
plant located in a most idyllic setting.
I congratulate all
those students who have received Certificates based on the results of
the CXC and the Cambridge Advanced Level Examinations.
May I also
convey to the Chairman of the Administrative Committee of Hillview
College as well as to The Principal my sincerest gratitude and deep
appreciation for having kindly extended to me in my capacity as member
of the First Graduating Class of Hillview College, this unique and
special opportunity to deliver the Feature Graduation address this
evening on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the College.
have done me and our pioneering class of 1955 a great honour by
inviting me to speak to this distinguished assembly on this very
historic occasion. I will do so with great humility.
I have always cherished and strengthened the very close emotional link
and connexion that binds and conjoins us the graduates to this College-
our BELOVED ALMA MATER This connexion is what I have always fondly
regarded as the Hillview Imperative- the student-school bonding and
Ladies and Gentlemen
The Early and Humble Beginnings
17 January 1955, more than 50 years ago, a group of students that
included our current Chief Justice The Honourable Mr. Justice Sat Sharma
assembled at Sherrif Street in Tunapuna in a make-shift building to
launch what has evolved as the success story of Hillview College. We
feel a sense of achievement to have been the pioneers of the great
Hillview legacy- to have initiated the Hillview social mission. That old
building located in Sherrif Street, the current Minister of Education
would have found to be unfit even for early childhood education. But we
persevered with God's help, the support of the Aramalaya Congregation
and succeeded against enormous odds.
This Hillview mission was geared to serve as a catalyst:
* For human capital development;
for pushing the transformation process of T&T from an agrarian
society to one that is now industrial, knowledge-based but also
* for the total development of the human personality to
equip our graduates to respond positively and adequately to the
challenges of the external operating environment.
From today you
graduates are expected to become missionaries bearing the good news of
Hillview College to the world. You are each a firefly trained and
equipped to light the way in an area of darkness. You must be like the
flickering lights of the deyas on Divali.
Our initial teaching
staff in 1955 consisted of the late Rev. Harold Swann, Effle Mohammed
and Stephen Alisharan. When we occupied this Hall as our first classroom
in 1957 the terrazo floor was still wet. No secondary school today in
T&T will begin in the same surroundings as the humble beginnings of
Hillview College. Hillview has now risen to the top. It is the school of
first choice of students from 36 primary schools stretching from Sangre
Grande to San Juan as well as to Couva in the central heartland. You
the students have a mission and sacred duty to defend, preserve and
enhance this image.
What is This Hillview Mission?
Beginning 1955, Hillview College has made fifty years of outstanding contribution:
* to nation- building
* to educational excellence;
* to fostering and promoting social and economic mobility and equality;
to the development and transformation of our untutored and vital human
capital living within the suburban and rural communities of the
Urban-based Secondary Education in the 50's
College started in Tunapuna in 1955. Access to secondary education then
was largely the exclusive preserve of the urban-based populations of
the cities of Port of Spain and San Fernando. The Presbyterian Church
broke this urban strangle hold by establishing SAGHS in 1950 at the
corner of the EMR and Austin Street, St. Augustine outside of the
That was also the era in which secondary education,
except for the state-established QRC and St. George's College, was
pioneered by the churches. I will later in this address give my own take
on the need to reinforce and expand the merits of this tried, proven
and successful system of denominational secondary education. This is the
system that gives us choice.
Today we are also celebrating the
crowning achievement of the College in its 50th year by winning for a
third time the coveted President's Medal by our very own Amrik Singh
Kochhar in the Mathematics, Science and Environmental Science category.
Amrik placed first in the world in Further Mathematics and fourth in
Physics. Aiyejina placed 5th and Anderson St. Hill placed 6th in the
world in Further Maths. The College also secured 12 other Scholarships.
In fact the 5 Presbyterian Secondary Schools won 70 of the 200
Scholarships on offer. Take a bow Mr. Gardner.
Let me offer my
congratulations to the Principal and staff for continuing to forge,
deepen and expand a teaching/learning culture of excellence and
relevance. We are proud to be Hillview. I also extend congratulations to
SAGHS and Lakshmi Girls' College for securing scholarships as well.
Participation in the Alumni Association
earlier referred to the loyalty and bonding spirit shown by the early
graduates. Mr. Chairman, today it is challenging to the Hillview College
Alumni Association to get past students to realise and appreciate that
they have a continuing moral and ethical duty and obligation to
contribute to the further enhancement of the Hillview legacy. You the
graduates have a natural duty, having regard to the many training and
development benefits that you have derived from Hillview- to give back
to mother Hillview something that can help to expand and consolidate the
Hillview legacy. Gratitude breeds grandeur. Graduates you cannot
achieve genuine success, however phenomenal without first manifesting
This Hillview legacy that I speak of is:
* firstly, as a place of educational excellence;
* secondly, for Hillview to continue to open career development paths and excite new goals for all our students;
thirdly, for Hillview to continue to inspire and evolve a sound code
of spiritual and sound moral values and personal attributes. It is this
that can serve as a potent antidote to counteract the current decline
and decay of the moral and social fabric of our society.
issue an appeal to this 2005 class of graduates to participate in the
activities of the Alumni Association. After 50 years of Hillview's
existence we do not have a viable and credible vehicle to channel
responses of gratitude of the graduates in terms that are beneficial to
the Hillview legacy.
Gratitude to Parents
the day dedicated to recognise, reward and celebrate not only the
outstanding academic success achieved by all our graduants. I am also
sure that you graduants will want me to pay tribute and to recognise the
joint contribution of the staff as well as of you the devoted, loving,
caring and supportive parents. The critical parenting role tends to get
marginalised at graduation ceremonies over the euphoria generated by the
excellent achievements of our children. But I want to recognise and pay
tribute to the parents of our graduants.
The Parent-Teacher Association
must pay tribute to the Hillview College Parent-Teacher Association.
Since the inception of Hillview, the PTA has supported the school to
achieve its mission that I referred to earlier. The PTA has contributed
to a culture in which the students assume a sense of ownership of and
loyalty to Hillview because of the active involvement of their parents
in assisting the school and interfacing with the staff.
School Boards in the State System
this context I wish to welcome the introduction of the School Board
experiment in state-run secondary schools. Management boards are
successfully used by the churches including the Hillview Administrative
Committee. The composition of such boards in State schools must be
insulated from political patronage and favouritism because the education
of our children must be freed from our own brand of divisive polarised
politics. All the management and technical resources present in the host
communities must be harnessed for the success of the Government School
Board system. If not, it will fail due to political contamination.
The Emergence of the Concordat
Hillview began in 1955 it immediately preceded the emergence of the
nationalist movement spawned during the 1956 full internal government
elections. The granting of assisted government status in 1957 to
Naparima College, Tunapuna Branch as Hillview was then known up to 1964
was touch and go. The new nationalist movement wanted to monopolise all
aspects of national life including education. This culminated in the
Concordat concluded between the churches and Government of 1960 that
placed an embargo on further school building and expansion by the
Today in spite of consistently delivering quality
education there is a moratorium on school building by the denominational
boards even though these schools are community-inspired, community-
based and community- managed and driven schools. They are in fact
superior to the 17 State Companies established to carry out projects and
deliver services. But why is the creation of these 17 State Companies
right and further expansion of the denominational system of education
Constitutional Right to Choice of Schools
We the Citizens and parents enjoy a constitutional right enshrined in
Part I (4) (f) of our Constitution to select the schools in which we
wish our children to be educated. The church secondary schools to which
Cabinet Ministers send their children have outperformed the State system
both in terms of excellence of the final product as well as in
achieving a stable, almost incident-free teaching-learning environment
and a physical plant that is non-vandalised. Why not allow this success
story of community-driven education to work and expand for the benefit
of our multicultural community? Church schools constitute a form of
effective decentralisation of the management of the educational system?
I take the opportunity today to pay tribute to the late Roy Joseph,
Former Minister of Education in the Executive Council of 1950-56 for the
critical role he played in encouraging and facilitating the expansion
of the denominational system that has always delivered total quality
education. As for Hillview we cannot thank adequately the late Canadian
Missionaries such Reverends Swann, Alcorn and Kirkpatrick- all who
served as former Principals.
Ten years ago a feature speaker at a
graduation function was expected to provide Hillview graduates with
some guidelines and advice on how to enter and perform well on the job
market. But this has changed. You graduants are not about to enter the
world of work just yet.
The Societal Challenge
we launch you the brilliant and intellectually mature A Level graduants
into the wider world away from the safety net and protection provided
by the Hillview Community. Most of you now must proceed to tertiary
education having regard to the current free access to University
education effective 1 January 2006.
You the promising O' Level graduates must approach your A' Level studies with a broader vision:
* that will identify your future career paths;
* enhance the reputation of Hillview College;
* and improve the school environment.
need not remind you all that O and A Level passes do not know qualify
you for meaningful employment. Both A and O Level graduants must now
aim to be part of 30% target enrolment at the tertiary level.
The Nature of the Societal Environment
then must be your response to the new challenges that we the
multicultural community of T&T face? You the graduants must address
and factor these growing challenges:
* in forging your future career paths;
* training and development initiatives?
* Your preparation for your nation-building role
* In your plans to make a difference in T&T
in the history of Hillview College graduations must an understanding of
the fundamentally changed social, economic and technological
environment in T&T occupy such a pivotal place in the career
determination of you the graduating class. That is the societal
His Excellency The President Professor George Maxwell
Richards, The Honourable Chief Justice Sat Sharma and the Principal of
UWI have recently alluded to the crime/Kidnapping pandemic that is
ravishing Mother T&T.
The Leadership Crisis in T&T
also have a crisis of leadership in T&T in spite of our affluence
and our high levels of literacy. The country needs a new cadre of
leaders who can help us- a multicultural community of communities to
realise our full potential as gifted and well-endowed people. Those
challenges manifest themselves within our immediate community level, at
the national as well as at the globalised level.
must kindle a community consciousness geared to improve the lot of your
own home and school communities that nurtured you. The villages need
leaders and activists to articulate their legitimate concerns. In
T&T there is sadly a correlation between illegal agitation,
demonstrations, burning tyres and blocking the roads and the delivery of
your entitlements- to get basic community needs. That is how
uncivilised and uncaring we have become.
Those of you graduates
proceeding to A' Level studies at Hillview have an obligation to seek
out and assist slow learners in the lower forms of Hillview. This is
called Peer Group Learning. It is also an expression of the volunteer
culture into which you graduates must immerse yourselves.
help to reduce the O' Level failure rate considerably. You can make a
difference even in the life of one lower form student.
Loyalty and Patriotism
must develop within your psyche a commitment to Trinidad and Tobago.
You must put a stop to the brain drain that is a form of injustice to
Dharti Mai T&T. You cannot be obsessed exclusively with developing
your professional career to promote your own well being - to achieve all
the trimmings and trappings of material, professional and social
success. We need genuine nation- builders and real community leaders as
well. We need models for our youths to emulate and surpass. You the
graduants have to nurture patriotism and loyalty to T&T. You cannot
assess your civic role exclusively by how well you do professionally.
You must develop a social and community-oriented conscience. You must
cultivate honesty and integrity- the spiritual side to your personality.
You cannot afford to be sucked into the sub-culture of drink, drugs,
drive and death on our roads. That is robbing us of some of our vital
human resource. Order Graduates! Please do not cross the border!
Heaven's first law is obedience to your parents and teachers. Drugs and
weaponry do no make you a big man!
That is the standard of
ethical conduct that your motto HUMANI NIHIL ALIENUM expects of you the
members of the Hillview community. Your life must be humanity-centred
and people driven.
You graduates must go back to basics. That will be the true measure of genuine success.
THANK YOU GRADUATING CLASS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN