Serving as keynote speaker for the Ministry of Education’s Technical Cadets Corps Programme’s (TCCP) 23rd Annual Graduation and Prize Giving Ceremony, Michael Pintard, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, admonished the young students to embrace the new age of technology, and remember that while The Bahamas is a small developing nation, they are as equally gifted and talented as any of their counterparts around the world.
Constantly acknowledging his passion and commitment to the youth of the nation and the importance of empowering them, Pintard noted that in a collaborative effort, his ministry along with other government entities have embarked upon initiatives geared towards promoting entrepreneurship, particularly with the youth, the largest populous of the nation.
“Just recently my ministry, in conjunction with the Office of the Prime Minister, launched an entrepreneurship program designed to provide resources to new businesses and emerging businesses, so that they can create a variety of enterprises that plug gaps that exist in this community. A number of those businesses that were successful in winning those grants of $5,000.00 and in some cases $10,000.00, were in the area of technology.
“Graduates, nothing prevents you from continuing, as you must, your education while at the same time becoming entrepreneurs. Counterparts in your age bracket have embarked on creative businesses to create applications, to design websites, to manage Facebook pages, to become inventors, solving basic and complex problems, while they are studying. Nothing prevents you from being among the pacesetters, internationally, to do incredible things in the areas of engineering, in the area of technology and in the wide array of areas in vocational studies.
“We are here as your support team and in this regard; I wish to congratulate all of the companies that continue to play an incredible role in this program as you have since its inception in 1990.”
He thanked the representatives of corporate Grand Bahama for their support of the TCCP over the years and challenged them to encourage other corporate entities to follow suit, with respect to empowering and assisting the youth.
“In Grand Bahama, it is my understanding that Statoil, Freeport Oil Company Limited (FOCOL), PharmaChem, Hutchison Whampoa and a wide range of companies, have answered the call to play a role in this program. We encourage you, while at a Chamber of Commerce meeting or you are playing golf on a weekend, that you would talk to your colleagues, about joining the vanguard companies that will mentor our young people.
“We appreciate the incredible sacrifices that you have made and the resources that you are investing in our future through our children. We encourage you to enlist additional companies to partner with these incredible persons here at the head table, who work daily to fashion a program that can be transformative for our economy, not just in Grand Bahama, but in The Bahamas.
“I am excited about where we are headed as a country. In our estimation, looking one year since the last general election, we believe that we are headed, in Grand Bahama, in the right direction. However, we acknowledge that there is need to pick up the pace. It is important that all of us decide that we are going to work in a collaborative way, to energize this economy. Among the various things that must be tackled, a number of areas relate to technological growth that must happen on this island.”
He admonished the graduates to focus their energy on seeking creative ways to garner sources of renewable energy, namely in the form of solar energy, as the high cost of electricity not only affects residents of Grand Bahama but indeed the entire country.
“The cost of power throughout The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is entirely too high. It is an issue that not only policy makers but private companies, must apply their intellectual strength to see how we can go about reducing this particular cost to businesses.
“Young people, you have a critical role to play because there is global mission to embrace renewable energies so that we are less reliant on traditional sources of power. Looking at solar technology and the potential that it holds for The Bahamas, is an area that a number of you may wish to give consideration to; what role might you play in that regard.
“Looking at wind energy, tidal energy – you are much smarter right now, coming out of high school than myself coming out of university. We are looking to you, in many instances, for answers to some questions that we have not successfully answered ourselves, in my generation and the generation before me,” stated Pintard.
“When we look at Grand Bahama, rather than being critical about a private enterprise seeking to make a legitimate dollar, through charging for power, you might exercise your creativity and give consideration to how we might solve the problem, versus being critical of an enterprise; the discussion has to shift.
“The truth is, there are persons who are travelling from half way around the world to the land of your birth, your parents’ birth in many instances, to realize their dream – not just for them, but for their children unborn, while many of our relatives and friends are unemployed and observing them, eking out a living for themselves.
“The natural thing is to be upset, to be resentful, to appeal to the nationalism in Bahamians that is sometimes not supported by the diligence we need to secure what is absolutely ours. However, this is a new generation, with new thinking. It is not just about watching the buses pass by with persons from half way around the world and feeling any resentment, it is about redoubling your efforts to make sure that whatever classroom you go in, whatever assignment you face, that you will be, as you are, as good as anyone else, anywhere else in the world,” said the MP.
“Resentment does not need to be the emotion; in fact, you should be fueled to say that the competition is not local and so excelling over the cadet sitting next to you, is less important as being able to compete with the child in Ottawa, Canada, in Singapore or in the United Emirates, because truly the competition is global. For those that have doubted, need only go to Royal Bank or some other institution on a particular day and watch the rest of the world, cash checks, while we may sit in the section pursuing loans.
“You have an opportunity to buy into the kind of thinking that some of us adults have, you have the opportunity to look at the ceiling and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you have the capacity to shatter it.
“You will not be alone and I must tell you that you will not be the first. There are Bahamians, who are working in countries around the world, in key positions, demonstrating that they are as gifted as anyone else. What we need are less the stories of about the exception, what we need is for Bahamian exceptionalism to become more common so that it is less newsworthy,” said Pintard.
“Right now when persons excel, we go to great lengths to try and find the wonderful story so that it might, for a moment, drown out the many horrific stories that exist. But, I believe, that you are a part of a generation that has the ability, not just to produce one or two all-stars on a team, but to produce an all-star team.
“The Bahamas needs an all-star team; our challenges are so great, the depth of the sphere amongst some of our citizens is so serious that it cannot be about us continuing to be on an individual run, on your own run. It has to be a collective commitment to change the condition of our people,” encouraged Pintard.
He told the graduates that they are now positioning themselves to move from this very important aspect of their lives into another; becoming a part of a group that will identify, through the difficult challenges that we face, in a small country and decide that you are going to solve them.
“The Bahamas is an Archipelago; we have more airports and harbors than the entire Caribbean; it is a difficult country to govern, but we have the intellectual power and if we decide to work together, across the political divides, religious divides, the gender divide, there are few things that we are unable to accomplish, as a people.
“We want you to continue what you have started out to do, and that is to decide, that you are going to put yourself in a position, that no matter what happens, you are going to excel, not matter what the challenges are on the horizon. That is our wish, our desire and our prayer for you,” concluded Minister Pintard.