Sixty-seven youngsters in State care were awarded for their academic achievements in external examinations at a ceremony organised by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA).
The youngsters qualified for the awards after obtaining four or more subjects in the recent sittings of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
They were presented with trophies, tablets, plaques and laptops at the function held at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston on November 22.
Addressing the ceremony, Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, saluted the students and teachers for their hard work and achievements, and the foster-parents for the love and attention given to the students.
The Minister wished continued success for them and urged them not to be distracted “by those who promise quick riches through the fast lane that never last”.
“Remember these wise words that ‘silver and gold will vanish away, but a good education will never decay’. Take your education seriously, and help others to do the same,” he told them.
The Minister assured those children involved in the children services programme, which include those in foster care and State facilities, that his Ministry is now in a better position to assist at all levels.
“We want to make sure that as a State, we take our responsibility very seriously. If our children find themselves in vulnerable circumstances, we as a State will step in and ensure that they do not face undue difficulties,” he said.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green, noted that young people must invest in themselves, especially their education, to become people of substance.
“You (the youngsters) are a testament that anything you put your minds to, despite your circumstances, can be achieved,” he said.
Mr. Green reminded those in attendance that the Ministry this year enabled students, especially wards of the State on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), to sit more than four subjects, by paying for them.
“What you will see in the years to come is that more children (wards of the State) will sit more subjects,” he said.
Mr. Green also congratulated the youngsters on their achievements and challenged them to “expand their dreams and visions” of the future.
For her part, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CPFSA, Rosalee Gage-Grey, said the agency will continue to provide these children with a “healthy environment to help them grow in every sphere”.
“We have given equal opportunities to our children, so that they realise their true potential and are ready to face the outside world once they complete their studies,” she said.
Mrs. Gage-Grey hailed the students for their achievement and urged them to continue focusing on their studies.
Attorney-at-law and former ward of the State, John Clarke, encouraged the students to create a personal plan for the future and write down what they want to achieve in 10 years.
The award for top male (CSEC) went to Ronaldo Latibeaudiere from the South East Region, and the top female award went to Valencia Parchment from the Western Region.
Top female for CAPE went to Davia Carney from the South East Region, while top male went to Nickorta Samuels from the same region.