AT Mae’s graduation of the Class of 2020 on November 14, Valedictorian Madhava Tewari expounded in his speech: “And do remember, making a legacy and achieving greatness is not always about having the deepest pockets, or the most influence, but rather to leave an unforgettable impression of who we were on those who we cross paths with, for it wouldn’t be our popularity or our feats that would be remembered, but the memories we’ve experienced together, and the hearts we’ve touched here at Mae’s, and beyond in the future.”
One can well remember his older brother, Kayshav Tewari, in his valedictorian speech at Queen’s College a few years ago, bringing the house down with a speech that reflected, not merely intellectual brilliance, but a maturity beyond his years.
A Sean Devers feature, published in the Kaieteur News of November 17, 2020 headlined “Poverty forced Joshua Edwards to give up Cricket”, related a heart-warming story of a young man who faced and conquered great challenges, making compromises and wise choices in prioritising his ultimate goals of pursuing a career in law.
Joshua was constrained to sacrifice what could have been a successful cricketing career to sell pizza to fund his UG tuition fees.
Devers wrote: “Joshua David Edwards was a promising all-rounder who was good enough to be invited to the St. Lucia U-15 trials, but he was forced to give up cricket because he had to choose between school and sports, due to his dire financial situation. Joshua started selling pizzas that were made by his mother to pay his tuition fees at the University of Guyana (UG).”
As Devers went on to explain, “Joshua is a final-year law student at UG, and despite the pandemic, he was still able to get his second-year paid off, and he is now striving to finish paying for the final year.”
He quoted Joshua as saying: “My goal is to become a doctor of the law; I desire to get my Doctorate in Criminology, so this is just the beginning for me. After UG, is law school, but I would also like to attain my master’s in the legal field, and finally, a Doctorate in Criminology.”
Joshua recently won a laptop computer and $700,000 for his winning essay in the Pastor Amanda Williams Educational Scholarship contest.
“I remember having one pair of shoes for school, church and cricket,” Joshua recalled. “It took a couple of years before I could get a shoe that was not all black, because the school demanded all-black shoes. I began to indoctrinate myself that textbooks were not for me, because I could not afford them,” he related.
He could only afford the fees for nine CSEC subjects, but he passed all nine, with five Ones (three, all As), a Grade Two, and three Grade Threes. He related that there were days on campus when no one knew that the entire day he had nothing to eat, nor money for transportation, so he would walk. “My message to young people is this,” he said: ‘You can do it! How you start doesn’t have to be how you finish! Do not allow life to cheat you of your greatness; pursue that dream!’”
Conversely, a headline in a news report of November 18, read: “Pensioner robbed, student employee questioned”, with the accompanying story detailing why the allegations of theft were made against him.
Successive PPP/C Governments have devised many innovative initiatives to educate even the underprivileged in society, even in the most remote regions.
The Ministry of Education has begun the distribution of the $4000 uniform, school supplies voucher, as well as the $15,000 cash grant to schoolchildren.
More than 160,000 schoolchildren across the country will now receive a $4000 uniform and school supplies voucher to assist with the purchasing of school supplies and uniforms.
A post on Facebook has revealed: “More good news coming out of President Irfaan Ali’s Office following talks on November 5 with UWI’s Vice-Chancellor”. Professor Sir Hilary Beckles has proposed studies for 20,000 Guyanese students over the next five years utilising UWI’s Open Campus option. The Vice-Chancellor is reportedly excited by this “grand invitation” to be a part of Guyana’s human resource development. The engagement is ongoing, but this is a great sign towards the delivery of yet another Manifesto promise.”
The Board of Industrial Training (BIT) has published notices inviting applicants from age 15 upwards to apply for various BIT programmes, giving school dropouts not interested in intellectual studies an opportunity to acquire skills training at a tertiary level to make them employable in industrial fields.
As Joshua Edwards asserted, poverty should not be a constraining factor to dreaming, aspiring and achieving.