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On the occasion of Teachers’ Day, I have great pleasure in extending my felicitations to the thousands of practitioners across the country who have made it their life’s mission to shape the destiny of their students and impart wisdom, knowledge and the highest national ideals to our future generations.

There is no other vocation that comes as close to shaping tomorrow’s world as teaching does; irrespective of the level of the education system where you practise your profession — basic, primary, secondary or tertiary — you possess the ability to nurture the minds of your students and frame their intellect while empowering them towards reaching their full potential and achieving their dreams.

My own experience as a lecturer at UWI Mona and growing up in a household with my father as a teacher gave me firsthand knowledge of the dedication and sacrifice that each of you bring to this profession. Teaching is not an easy vocation but it brings joy and excitement when the products of your effort excel and become good citizens and leaders of tomorrow.

Being a good teacher demands much time and myriad qualities; the duties and responsibilities entailed in the profession are fraught with many challenges, even as teachers are expected to turn out students who are knowledgeable and competent. No praise, therefore, can be too high for those upon whose perseverance and dedication our education system has been built, and our teachers must not only receive recognition for what they do, but must also be respected and made to feel that their contribution is valued. Jamaica is truly grateful to all the educators who have sacrificed unquantifiable time and energy, and who strive to be good role models for their students.

In today’s world, the work and worth of teachers must also be seen in the context of the broader domestic objective of fostering sustainable development, of which promoting responsible citizenship in all possible areas is a key component. In this regard, the classroom, science lab, assembly hall or playing field becomes the environment where learning is inextricably tied to national goals, and I encourage teachers to continue to help nurture socially responsible pupils for a better society.
Again, for your tremendous contribution and dedication to our nation, we thank you. Happy Teachers’ Day!