UB Imprint Vol 10: Address by the Hon. Patrick Faber at the Matriculation Ceremony – Motivating the Young Students of the UB



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Address by the Hon. Patrick Faber at the Matriculation Ceremony - Motivating the Young Students of the UB

At the start of the Academic Year 2017-2018, the University of Belize (UB) faculty, staff and the leadership team formally welcomed students at the historic and first matriculation ceremony in Belmopan on 16th August, 2017. As Belize’s National University, the relevance of UB in the National identity and discourse was presented in the keynote address which was delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, Honorable Patrick Faber. Minister Faber reflected on his own challenges as a young student.

Honorable Patrick Faber told the gathering, “I tell you, that you have the opportunity now young people, to make your mark at the University of Belize. But also to make your mark on the overall development of Belize. Because that is important. And it starts here as you matriculate into this University.”

The Minister told the students, “but I know how happy you were to have received in the mail a letter that said ‘you are accepted to the University of Belize. You are accepted to become a part of the family of the University of Belize, Belize’s National University.’ It was a good feeling, was it not? Some of you may have dreamt of that day. You’re now occupying the space here at UB to become productive. It doesn’t matter what propelled you to be here, the fact of the matter is you are here and we want to encourage you to be proud of your entry. And I liked what the President said, ‘you are a part of this University of Belize ‘s family.’ And you should never ever let anyone tell you ‘you are not a part of something good.’”

“This country is depending on you. The entire country is looking up to you. You are among the cream of the crop of this country’s students. I listened as the President commented on the number of returning and new students matriculating like yourselves. He said there were 4,600 plus for this academic year. That is a record. That is tremendous growth for UB. I remember when I became Minister of Education, maybe 9 going on 10 years ago there were only 2,000 plus students at UB. And so for us to get to this level where there are close to 5000 students, that is a marked accomplishment for our country and I’m sure the tertiary level enrollment of this country has therefore improved. And that is a sign of very positive development. When you find yourself in this place of higher education and higher learning, understand you really are the cream of the crop and the development of our country is dependent on you in terms of giving future direction and leadership. And that is why it is so very important for you to embrace this, for you to take it seriously. At a university, no one is going to ‘big stick’ you and police you. You turn up to class if you’re serious as you should be and there is no room for complacency or that kind of delinquency. You are here as this demonstrates that you mean business and you also need to demand a quality education from your instructors or professors. Because they too need to take this responsibility seriously. You are the best and the academics at UB are entrusted to deliver that knowledge and training that is required. By the way, your professors can’t teach you everything; by now you should know how to acquire knowledge. That is what higher education is all about, becoming great learners. Your professors and instructors are here to guide and mentor you. You have your textbook. You have a syllabus and course outlines. You go to your classes, take your notes and also be driven to take care of your own learning. That should not excuse the professors and instructors, as they too must do the best job and to be good resources for our students. So as Minister I am looking forward to this - good students, good staff. So my friends, my young students, I encourage you to be good, strong learners, take this responsibility of being students of UB very seriously.”

“I take my responsibility as Minster of Education and also Minister of Youth very seriously. There are many young people in this country, as 75 percent of our population is 35 years and younger. We cannot afford to have the stigma placed on us that we are young, fickle and undecided about what it is we want to do.” The Minister further reflected, “when I was 16, I wasn’t accepted at UB, but what I heard through the grapevine was that I was not old enough. That’s a big mistake in my view. Because young people are talented and we have some of the best ideas and some of the best brain power in this country and by this extension in the world. I remember when I became Minister of Education at age 29, at the same time we were trying to fill a vacancy for the Presidency of the Senate. There was a recommendation for a young man to be the President of the Senate. This young man, at the time, was 27 or 28 years old. He had a law degree. He was an instructor at Muffles Junior College. He never became the President of the Senate. Why? Because the Constitution of our country, at the time said he was too young. You had to be 30 years of age or older in order to be the President of the Senate. I lead the campaign to change that and now the age stands at 24.”

“Nobody should tell you that because of your age your contributions to Belize’s development; to the development of your family; the development of your UB community; to the development of the wider community in which you live, your contributions to Belize and to the world are not important and big; don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do it. I tell you my dear students that there are people in high places; people that profess love and care for you; people whom you respect, who believe they know what is best for you, better than you do; and that’s a fallacy. I’m saying you are the person in charge: the driver, the pilot of your destiny. You should not let anybody discourage you from whatever it is you want to be. And so as you start this very important journey; apply yourselves now and start to chart that very successful path forward for yourselves. Please do so also for this very important institution, the University of Belize.”

At the beginning of the Minister’s speech he said, “I wish to place on record Mr. President, my congratulations to you on your recent Installation which I heard was a grand occasion as is the case here today, celebrating the matriculation of so many students. And I offer you and the Vice President, congratulations on the behalf of myself, my Ministry and my cabinet colleagues including the Prime Minister on your appointments and Mr. President on your installation. We wish you well in the journey ahead. ”

“I take pride in saluting the President because I came to the graduation ceremony in June. And immediately I was able to tell there was a different atmosphere at the University of Belize. I could tell immediately that this is the long awaited opportunity for us to get things moving at UB and to remove the negative impressions and put an end to all of the naysayers. This my friends is the opportunity to do so, and I salute you President and the University Staff for creating historic events like these. This is what is going to be etched into the minds of the students present today and also the wider community who are looking towards the University for leadership. So I salute you all at UB.”

“Mr. President I thank you for the opportunity and I thank you all for listening. God’s blessings.”