Columns

Graduation: Go forth!

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, November 09, 2018

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The season of graduation is on for some of our tertiary institutions. Annual graduation ceremonies have been taking place and students of all ages and determination set out to “go forth” prepared to provide for themselves and their families — or so it is hoped. The graduates were celebrating their achievements and the intention to head out into the world on a journey towards becoming members of a better tomorrow. Uptown, downtown, urban or rural, a new generation of our young people have become absorbed in getting education and being fully equipped to find a place in a new world.

The other evening one could see young Jamaicans pouring out and away from the grounds of the institutions where they have been totally occupied with redefining themselves for success — many of their parents could only dream of such an experience. Onlookers seemed to be wondering how did the parents, ordinary men and women, feel now, after the sacrifice of providing their offspring with the opportunity of higher education? Optimistic though we may be, we still don't know what lies ahead, although everybody has strong hopes that their future will be bright.

We have not moved far from the time when few if any parents or grandparents had an opportunity of entering the classrooms of higher learning. Things have changed and there are more opportunities for tertiary education, but the path is still a rough one. Parents of yesterday and today will tell you that they have had to do what our ancestors did: “Stand pon crooked and cut straight,” in an effort to give our children the best. Many parents have borrowed, begged or sold what they have to ensure a better result for their children.

Mom and dad are right to revel in the pride on graduation. They will, no doubt, always remember the joy which was brought to the entire family as their son or daughter made their way across the platform. For the parents who worked their fingers to the bone to raise their child it must be an honour to hear the thunderous applause from their colleagues and the guests who have come out for the special occasion. There are young people, too, who have fought to put themselves through college, and they must be extremely proud of what they have done.

Question of the year: What is the new generation driving towards?

Be it uptown or country village, how do the members of the 'new generation' ensure that they are ready to compete with the best of the best. College days do not last forever and ever more. The real world awaits. Some of the new generation millennials are convinced that this is their time and they will go for it. “Don't worry, parents, we'll get there.”

There is, of course, the growing trend of older members of the family enrolling in higher education. Grandparents and parents have been known to walk the graduation stage too as they seek to improve themselves and their families. And, why not? Education is for all ages and stages; we must never miss the chance to advance ourselves.

For those who have the dream for themselves or their children, start planning from now. Tertiary education is an expensive thing, and it helps to plan ahead. Let us not go through the almost annual ritual of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth when schools have to de-register students due to the non-payment of fees.

Scholarships and bursaries are out there for those who go looking and asking for them. We are thankful to the many corporate entities which offer millions to those who are in need of financial support for their educational dreams. We must do what we can to secure the future generation of this country.

Everyone wants a chance to shine. Graduation ceremonies have been known to take place in basic school, where teachers and parents are convinced that four- and five-year-old pupils have a right to celebrate academic achievements. A friend of mine joked that her granddaughter had graduated from nursery school on receiving a degree in porridge eating and colouring. Another friend said that she saw kindergarten graduations as a sign of how much we, as a people, value education; that every step on the ladder of learning is important and should be encouraged.

Congrats, Dr Amiel

Congratulations to Dr Keith Amiel, honorary graduate of the University of Technology, Jamaica, who has been recognised for his contribution to the development of the agri-business sector in Jamaica. Dr Amiel is widely respected throughout the Caribbean for his exemplary accomplishments and the impact he has made in the livestock industry. He is also the chairman of the Tivoli Gardens High School board of management and deputy chair of the Little Theatre Movement. Nuff respeck, Sir!

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or

gloudonb@gmail.com.

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