Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis paid a visit to schools on the Islands of Exuma and San Salvador on the first day of school, Monday, September 3. The Prime Minister toured the campuses of L.N. Coakley High School in Exuma, and United Estates Primary and San Salvador High School on San Salvador. The Prime Minister said he was visiting schools on other islands at the start of the new school year to emphasize that all schools in the nation are important. “I decided to travel to Exuma and to San Salvador for the opening day of school because I wanted to show how important every school is throughout the Bahamas, and how important every Family Island is,” said Dr. Minnis. “We are One Bahamas. Your education is as important as every island and every school in our Bahamas.” He said he also wanted to ‘personally thank’ all those who play a role in the education system. “I also wanted to personally thank all the school administrators, teachers and staff, and the PTA, who work hard to educate and mentor our young people, as well help to keep our schools running,” he said. “Everyone plays a role from the principal to the maintenance staff to the efforts of parents, Island Administrators, health care personnel, churches, the business community and everyone who support our schools.” The Prime Minister said that he also wanted to encourage parents, guardians and the community to support teachers and administrators. He noted the more the community supports a school, the stronger the school becomes.
He said that he especially wanted to encourage students and to stress the importance of education to them. “You have many times heard about how important education is to your future success and to making a good life for you,” said Dr. Minnis. “I can tell you about my own life, and about how important education was to me. I could never have become a medical doctor if I did not get a basic foundation in primary school and high school.” Speaking of his own personal experiences as a student, the Prime Minister said that his hard work paid off in the end, explaining — “Back in my school days I never dreamt that I would enter politics. If anybody told me back then that I would run for the House of Assembly or become a cabinet minister, I would have told them that they needed to get their head checked. And if anybody told me that I would one day have the privilege of serving as prime minister, I would have been even more shocked. Speaking of his ‘modest’ upbringing, he said that his mother taught him that a person’s beginnings did not have to determine whether he or she succeeded in life. “I learned early in life that when you dream big, you also have to work hard day after day. I know many of you have dreams and ideas about what you want to do in the future,” he said.
He told the students that commencing this fall, all those who met the necessary qualifications would be able to attend the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI), free of charge. He also told them that commencing next fall, those who qualify would be able to attend the University of The Bahamas tuition-free. In addition, he told them that a $500 allowance would be provided for those qualifying students who may need, but could not afford, housing in New Providence to attend. “The University of The Bahamas will maintain a proper housing register to ensure that the homes in which students live meet safety and other requirements. We want our young people to be in safe and properly maintained accommodations,” he said. The Prime Minister left the students with some words of encouragement and charged them to work hard: “I have a big ambition for our young people. My job and the job of the government is to help provide you with opportunities for success. Your job is to work hard and to study hard. We need you to succeed and to do well. The success of the Bahamas depends on you.”
More images from the school tour below: