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Kingsway Academy graduating senior, Danya Dean, is ending her high school career on a high note -- acceptance into The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS). The society recognizes top scholars who have demonstrated outstanding leadership scholarship, and community commitment. NSHSS founder and chairman Claes Nobel, a senior member of the family that established the Nobel Prizes made the announcement.
"I am honored to recognize the hard work, sacrifice and commitment that Danya has demonstrated to achieve this exceptional level of academic excellence," said Nobel. "Danya is now a member of a unique community of scholars -- a community that represents our very best hope for the future."
"I was excited to be accepted," said Dean, 17. " I'm actually a part of my school's honors society [Alpha Kappa Tau] so it made me feel even better to be accepted into the National Society of High School Scholars because it's a global field and not just competing against my schoolmates."
NSHSS President James W. Lewis said the vision behind NSHSS is to build a dynamic international organization that connects members with meaningful content, resources and opportunities. "We aim to help students like Danya build on their academic successes and enhance the skills and desires to have a positive impact on the global community," he said.
Membership in NSHSS entitles qualified students to enjoy a variety of benefits, including scholarship opportunities, academic competitions, free events, member-only resources, publications, participation in programs offered by educational partners, personalized recognition items and publicity honors.
Danya, a 3.5 cumulative grade point average (GPA) student, has made the honor roll at Kingsway Academy for the six years she has been at the school, as she says getting an education is important to her.
"You have to have an education because you won't get anywhere in life without having some form of education, so it's important to get the education you need to move along in life," said the daughter of Dennis and Barbara Dean. She said in her house getting an education has always been stressed.
"Besides God, education was always second. Whenever I would come home from school my mom would always ask, 'Do you have any homework? Do you have any studying?' And I would be like 'no'. She would be like, 'you're going to study'. It was always important."
With aspirations of becoming a medical chemist with a background study in forensics, she knows she has a lot of studying ahead of her during her university years.
She has been accepted into Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada and Taylor University in Indiana, and is leaning towards continuing her post-secondary education at the Canadian college. Her final decision she said would lie in what scholarship monies she's able to get. She has applied to the Lyford Cay Foundation as well as the Ministry of Education for scholarship assistance. She's also applied for financial aid to the universities.
As for her choice of course of study, while she says the sciences, especially chemistry is her favorite, and that she was influenced in her future course of study by the fact that a number of her family members have been diagnosed with leukemia, breast cancer as well as lupus and diabetes.
"With medical chemistry it's a career path that I can go on to aid in research and find cures and test substances to find ways to help better the lives of those people who are suffering from these diseases. And forensic science, because I've always loved working in the lab and I see it as a way I can help the community and help the law to put away those who are criminals," she said. "I would love to be both honestly, but my real passion is actually working in the lab in research, so a medical chemist is what I would really like to be with a background study in forensics."
Ironically she is the first to admit that she is surprised herself that her least favorite subject is math, when the sciences and math usually go hand-in-hand.
"When I'm in math class I'm like I dread this subject. Why am I learning this? But in chemistry, biology and physics it just comes so much easier to me because I'm learning what I want to learn. But Math, eww!" she said.
As she prepares to wind up her final weeks in high school, she will retake her Bahamas General Certificates of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams in math and English. Last year she had written eight exams, math, English, biology, chemistry, physics, Combined Science, food and nutrition and Spanish, and came out with one B and seven C grades. And she's scored in the 1400s on her Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
She is also mere days off sitting three Advanced Placement (AP) exams in math, English and chemistry.
Danya is also proud of the fact that she's a well-rounded individual who is also into a variety of extracurricular activities, even though education is at the forefront. She played volleyball, soccer and softball, and ran track. She did not like basketball. She's also involved in dance and performs in the Emanji Circus Arts.
"My study habits would shock people," said Danya. "I leave from school and go straight to dance practice, and if I'm not at dance or circus, I'm out on the field or on the court playing a sport. After all that I do homework and study and I get to that around 8-9 p.m." She said she tries to put in two hours doing homework before she puts in four hours studying. This means she gets to bed late, which she said she's accustomed to, as it's something she's been doing for many years.
But she said there is one thing that every student must remember, and that it's "prayer plus hard work equals success. It's very important to put God first in everything that you do. Without him, nothing is possible."
Peter replied,"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off -- for all whom the Lord our God will call."
- Acts 2:38-39
Our mother is the one who normally connects us to Jesus, the building blocks for life. She sees to it that we are brought before the Lord's altar and baptized into the holy Christian church. She teaches us the first prayer that we utter to God.
This coming Sunday is Mother's Day. I am saying a special prayer for the mothers of our nation that they keep connecting their children to Jesus.
In the text, the apostle Peter encourages the people listening to him to repent and be baptized. He reminds them that the promise of God is for them and for their children.
Even though we live in a perverse world where people spurn God's word and harden their hearts towards God, there is still hope. This hope lies in godly mothers and grandmothers who act as a guiding light in the lives of their children and grandchildren.
I had a Russian friend when I was in seminary. During his infancy, most of the people in Russia, including his parents, were atheists. Notwithstanding this, his grandmother, who feared God, had him baptized in a secret ceremony.
Today this young man who holds a doctorate degree in physics and previously worked for the Russian government building bombs, works as a pastor in the army of God. Thanks to his grandmother who trusted God and prepared him in his infancy.
In our country we still have such mothers and grandmothers. For them, I thank God. They help to build our country and give it a sound foundation. That foundation is built on Christian principles.
I am thankful for my mother who turns 87 on Sunday, Mother's Day. Over the years, she has been like a lighthouse to my siblings and me, guiding us to the throne of God. Yes, she has been our angel, guiding us and putting us on the right path whenever we stumbled.
My mother gave birth to, and raised nine children and raised an additional two she adopted. She loves us all, yet she never encourages nor did she ever encourage us in any wrong. I love my mother. I thank God for her.
As I look around my congregation, I see many mothers and grandmothers whose love and care extend far beyond their children and grandchildren. They fear God and because they do, they help to guide our young people in the way of the Lord.
They make the words of our Lord a part of their living: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)
For this, I am encouraged and see hope for the future of our country.
My mother was the one who taught us God's word. She created the spark in us and kept us close to the Lord. Like my mother did for my siblings and me, I pray that our younger mothers would spark a connection to Jesus in their children.
Mothers and grandmothers, I beseech you, continue to be God's angels in the lives of the children around you. Over the years you have made it your responsibility to ensure that these children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and neighbors get connected with Jesus. Your gift to these children give us good and productive citizen. Happy Mother's Day! Amen.
o Reverend Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas, or telephone: 323-4107; E-mail: email@example.com, Website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.
While senior Rebecca Henderson led the senior national examination charge, not to be missed was the fact that Whitley Deleveaux, a ninth grade student at Queen's College attained seven "A" grades in the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) examinations and was presented with the Most Outstanding Student in Independent Schools awards.
Whitley along with 10 of her peers earned 16 of the top scores for individual subjects in the 2014 Bahamas General Certificate Secondary Examination (BGCSE) and BJC examinations -- and as a result the school has dubbed the students the "Sweet 16".
The awards were handed out at the recent Ministry of Education, Science and Technology's Annual National Awards Ceremony.
Whitley who was graded at "A" for her results in language arts, mathematics, general science, art, social studies, religious education and craft study, posted the top scores in the BJC health science and religious education exams.
Arron Edgecombe received subject awards for BJC mathematics and health science; Llando Chea received awards for BJC craft and social studies.
Nanditha Guruvaiah received top BGCSE awards in biology and geography; and Farion Cooper received top awards in BGCSE mathematics and physics.
Adonis Sasso received a top award in BJC mathematics; Naya Maycock received an award in BJC art and design; Namratha Guruvaiah received the BJC social studies award; Takia Gordon received the award in BGCSE food and nutrition; Alexis Mackey in BGCSE religious education and Anna Carla Grillo in BGCSE Spanish.
"The fact that we had students who received 16 top awards, and that there were a number of students who attained two top awards in the country -- Farion Cooper got the top prizes in the country for mathematics and physics [in the BGCSE]; at the BJC level, Arron Edgecombe got the top prize for mathematics and health science, as well as several others, speaks to the hard work that teachers and students have put in," said Queen's College Vice Principal Shawn Turnquest. "It also speaks to the level of excellence that the entire school is committed to. We try to inspire all of our students to do their very best that they can. We remind them always to make sacrifices and to focus on what is important and to always do their very best, and certainly this year and every year -- but this has been a really special year the students have certainly put their best foot forward."
According to Turnquest, the school does its best to maintain the culture of excellence that has been established and seeks ways to improve upon it. She said they have found that the graduating class provides inspiration to their peers coming up behind them, and provides positive pressure for them to do well.
"Students vicariously experience the success of others and they see the results of hard work, and all of that has helped to promote an amazing culture of excellence at Queen's College."
Turnquest was not only proud of the results by QC students. She said the recent honors ceremony showed that all is not lost and that there are hundreds of young people who are embracing the opportunity of education and who are doing well.
"Children who were honored came from across the length and breadth of the country, from government schools and private schools, and it was a very proud moment for all educators, because even though we are attached to a particular school, we are still all Bahamians. And so we are very proud when we see Bahamian students perform and do well. It was a proud day for education in The Bahamas," said Turnquest.
The minister responsible for financial services and trade, Ryan Pinder, resigned his post as minister to take up a private post. This leaves his ministry without a minister. In addition, just prior to his resignation, the director of his ministry, was selected to head up the secretariat charged with producing a national development plan for The Bahamas. Without a doubt, international trade and integration for The Bahamas has been put under a very serious test: with or without the understanding that the Ministry of Finance also has carriage for trade matters.
Over the last 15 years, The Bahamas has been making greater steps towards becoming a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is an important step in the development for any country that wishes to become a member of this grouping. So far, The Bahamas is among a particularly awkward group of countries that are currently not members: Iran and Iraq are some other notable countries, with Russia officially joining in 2012.
Just for background information, the WTO has been around since the end of the Second World War. It was formerly called the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), before the conclusion of the 1996 Uruguay Round of world trade talks which then established a universal name for the grouping and tighter rules on goods and services. Before 1996 it was promoted as a post-war economic integration mechanism for European and North American countries and since then, it has been promoted even more so, but with more countries included along with their contentions and complexities.
The WTO is currently in the middle of a seemingly endless round of trade talks, which started in Doha, Qatar, in 2002. Having a round of talks in the Middle East, post 9-11 attacks and the US Middle Eastern invasion, was supposed to be the olive branch extended to the Middle Eastern world by Western powers (well, let's just say by the USA) as a way to show them "peace through trade". Sort of like the US's Iraq invasion strategy of bombs and bread, with trade added to it.
More importantly, however, the idea that the WTO is a complex organization is true to a great extent. Its rules-based arrangements are designed purposefully to be intrusive on sovereign authority and sovereign economic policy making.
This international rules-based mechanism makes the interconnection and coordination of multinational protocols and standards, based on traditions and customs, as well as sovereign protection on industries deemed as sacred, difficult when this system has to cater to the needs, the flexibilities and sometimes inflexibility of its members.
The position The Bahamas finds itself in at this stage by not being a member, can be good or bad, depending on the premium placed on the economic position of The Bahamas and what Bahamians feel are their best interests for the future.
For one, not being a member makes you a pariah. Even though The Bahamas is a member of a lot of other international bodies and agreements and has a good political and economic track record, not being a member of this standard bearing group looks a little dubious. Along with being a pariah, doing business with international firms that expect a transparent system for them to invest becomes problematic if national standards aren't, at least, at baseline international standards and compliance benchmarks.
The second thing is the need for The Bahamas to undergo taxation reform. Tax reform has never just been a trivial matter in any country, let alone for a country that has no forms of taxation other than from import tariffs and public service charges and some minor, real property taxes -- with the latter not taken very seriously. But, the matter of proper taxation is critical to being successful at world trade level and, at the same time, protecting domestic interests.
One thing is clear with WTO economic principles: Reducing tariffs on import competing products is at the essential core of the WTO. In fact, two foremost policies are: 1. The non-discrimination between goods and services and 2. The reciprocity of trade openness between countries, either by direct tariff cuts or through modality approach -- that being phased in over a period of time.
For a country like The Bahamas, which is heavily dependent on tariffs/customs duties for government revenue, it is clear that once the phasing in of WTO standards and honoring commitments to other members on reducing customs duties on certain items takes place, there will be a need to find other sources of revenue; thus the country is poised to implement value-added tax by January 1, 2015.
Everything from tax reform, to increasing the transparency in public and private investments, even to proper record keeping, speaks to a larger issue of broader public sector reform and also to the cultural way we tend to do business. Not only broader private and public sector reform, but having the capacity to commit to contracts and agreements over the time period in which you said you were going to do exactly that.
Cutting this point short: The entire way we do business has to change. A colleague of mine from Trinidad, who worked in The Bahamas for a short time, stated to a group he was presenting to: "Do you remember when your mother used to bake that sweet bread every Sunday? (Yea!) And the neighbor used to fix her door or cabinets for her in exchange for that baked bread? (Yea!) Well, those days are long gone! (Oooooohhhh!!!)".
The changes needed in the way we do business do not have to be drastic or overnight. It can be done bit by bit to suit our needs or, actually -- "gasp!" -- structurally planned! Questions about what institutions -- public or private -- should change first, and how we change things without causing public insurrection, is where the discussions on WTO accession should be. But it isn't.
The reason why the discussions aren't where they ought to be is because the broader public, on average, tend to become frustrated when we speak about large macro-economic and macro-financial jargon and concepts. It's like, for example, an accountant trying to understand quantum physics. They would be no better off than a person who has the reading capability of a second year college student -- or perhaps even a first year college student.
The other reason why the discussion isn't where it ought to be -- and that being on the institutional and the economic way we do business -- is because no one has been able to break down the large concepts and ideas into bite sized nuggets for citizens to digest.
For the most part in The Bahamas, the public discussion comes in after the fact. In fact, not only does public discussion come in after the fact, it sometimes isn't very fruitful to the issue at all. The reason being that the persons explaining the issues become frustrated at times at the lack of, seemingly, intellectual depth by the broader public on the matter (like the average Joe understands stochastic measurements and the difference between the HO model and the Laffer curve).
In addition, the broader public becomes angry at the persons making these decisions and making them without their input and apparently always in secret -- a very open secret I may add. So, the cycle of confusion and obfuscation continues.
All of this uncovers another problem (well, not really another problem uncovered, because anyone who has ever done anything in The Bahamas understands this by now) and that is the lack of information readily available for the general public to digest. Not just transparency in the public sector, or private sector for that matter, but the transparency specifically for the broader public.
My sentiment is that: 'You can't blow my mind if I don't understand what it is you are blowing my mind with.' This goes a very long way in justifying the education of the public on the importance, for them, of what trade agreements and, in particular, what the WTO means.
The issue of knowing what to expect is critical to putting in place the safety mechanisms in order to protect the state revenue and the public interest with regard to consumer protection, commercial protectionism and cultural influx.
What should happen with labour and unions? What should happen with tax reform and state revenue? What would happen when legal immigration and immigration become larger problems? What would happen to sovereign rights? What should happen to infant industries? What should happen when the inflow of capital becomes too much or too little? What should happen to import competing companies? What should happen with regard to exports and export support? What should happen to the lives that depend on the decisions made on all of these?
There's no cookie-cutter solution for these problems. This WTO accession approach simply needs a touch of policy flexibility, imagination and creativity, put into realistic institutions that don't harm the domestic economy or damage global competitors and the clout they carry.
The proper discussions need to take place. Not discussions on what people have done after the fact. But, rather, what should we do and why it affects you. There is no easier other way!
o Youri Kemp is president and CEO of Kemp Global, a management consultancy firm based in The Bahamas. This article was published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.
FORENSIC accountant John Bain is calling for computer science to be added to the school curriculum, calling it a 'vital discipline'.
Bain, the managing director of John S Bain Chartered Forensic and E-learning specialist, said: "The study of Computer Science is just as important as Mathematics and English."
Mr Bain, the Chairman of the E-Learning Committee of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, added: "The study of computer science is not a luxury, and should not be an elective, but an integral part of education. It is a vital, analytical discipline, and a system of logical thinking that is as relevant to the modern world as physics, chemistry or biology....
A shortage of teachers, the escalating dengue fever outbreak, and the state of some schools affected by Hurricane Irene, are some of the chief concerns that Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson expressed as public schools open across the country today.
Yesterday Wilson said the public school system is short of about 22 teachers, particularly in the areas of mathematics and other speciality subjects.
Director of Education Lionel Sands, has admitted that the department does not have a sufficient compliment of teachers to teach the subjects of maths, physics, chemistry and several other technical areas. Sands said the ministry relies on bringing in teachers from abroad. He added that the ministry offers grants to persons interested in studying the more technical subjects where further assistance is needed.
Meantime, Wilson is also concerned about the dengue fever outbreak.
Thousands of Bahamians have contracted the vector-borne virus over the past two months, and at least one person has died as a result of the virus.
"I want our teachers to be safe. Since we had the dengue fever outbreak I want to urge the minister of health to ensure that all schools have been sprayed for mosquitos to assist with student safety," Wilson said.
The union president also expressed concern about the schools that will have to open late as a result of damage sustained during Hurricane Irene. The Ministry of Education will be relocating students at several schools on Family Islands impacted by Hurricane Irene, in order to ensure they are able to attend classes when the school year begins today. However, students who attend Arthur's Town High School and Orange Creek Primary School on Cat island, will not begin classes until September 12, according to Director of Education Lionel Sands.
Sands told The Nassau Guardian in an interview last week, that students who attend Colonel Hill High School on Crooked Island and Snug Corner Primary School on Acklins, will be relocated due to extensive damage sustained to those facilities last week.
He added that schools on Cat Island were not that badly impacted by Irene. He added that the hurricane interrupted summer repairs, which will be completed next week.
Meantime, Wilson reminded parents and teachers whose school routes are impacted by the massive road works across the island to plan ahead.
"I'm concerned about persons getting to and from school in a timely matter. I'm hoping that teachers, parents and administrators map out the route so they can get to school on time. I also want administrators to be lenient with some teachers and some students who have to travel where work is being done. We have to be aware that it may pose challenges," Wilson said.
BUT is currently in the process on negotiating a new contract with the Ministry of Education. Wilson said so far the process is going smooth. She expects negotiations to conclude by the end of October.
New Thought is an umbrella term for diverse beliefs that emphasize practically oriented spirituality, promoting wholeness in living through constructive thinking, meditation, prayer and the realization of the presence of God. It's more than a century old and includes unity, religious science and divine science. Because it maintains that the mind is continually growing, New Thought is not a static system of beliefs.
While it acknowledges the importance of traditional religious thought as a part of the mind's development, it finds the permanence of dogma to be contradictory to the mind's natural striving for advancement.
New Thought practitioners believe there exists one God - an omnipresent universal mind or creative intelligence. It is a principle (not a being), an impersonal force that manifests itself personally, perfectly and equally within all. The universe and all within it are expressions of God - the creative intelligence - with no beginning and no end.
This New Thought Christianity is being practiced at Universal Truth Ministries for Better Living, located in Palmdale by Rev. Claudia Fletcher.
"As a spiritual philosophy, New Thought is not new," said Fletcher. "It was so dubbed because it came into existence in the late 19th century offering new paradigms, new and different ways of relating the mind and body and inquiring into humankind's nature.
"It was considered new because these paradigms were the first to be developed in America by Americans antithetic to the old doctrines that came with the early colonizers from England and Scotland. However, much of what was included was not new at all because many of its major ideas had appeared at some period in the history of the Christianity or other religions of the world.
"For example, its philosophical roots of idealism can be traced as far back as Plato (427-437 B.C.E.). The new in New Thought also refers to the fact that in order to achieve positive results in our lives, we must keep our thoughts in a constant state of renewal - having new thoughts every day."
According to the leader, the God of New Thought is not person, neither place nor thing, but a universal mind and spirit that permeates and interpenetrates the entire universe and finds expression through and as the mind of human beings.
"This Spirit is revealing itself to humankind continually through the reasoning mind and the whispering inward voice of intuition," she said.
"God is thus universal in scope and application; is everywhere and operates through the use of all-encompassing law. These laws operate constantly whether we know about them or not, and they function the same for everyone and everything."
According to Fletcher, depending on who is asked about New Thought, the responses can be varied. She said people have referred to them as "airy-fairy people", and even likened practitioners to a "cult". She added that none of the descriptors are accurate.
"New Thought is a system of thinking that almost everyone is familiar with; they just don't know it. Numerous authors, speakers, movie producers and even preachers [outside of New Thought], use New Thought in their works; they just don't call it by that name," said Fletcher.
"As a spiritual philosophy, it has a diversified following of individuals from a wide variety of religious backgrounds who now find spiritual nourishment from organizations such as Universal Foundation for Better Living (UFBL), Unity, Centers for Spiritual Living (formerly Religious Science), Christian Science and Divine Science. These organizations are united by the predominant belief in one God - universal mind, creative intelligence, omnipresent - principle (not a being), an impersonal force that manifests itself personally, perfectly and equally within all."
Fletcher said, "New Thought stands for the universal kinship of all peoples; that it proclaims that health, happiness and success are the birthright of every child of God and denies that there is a future punishment.
"New Thought is about right thinking... thinking in a way that leads to positive results in one's life and affairs - health, wealth, peace and happiness. It teaches universal spiritual principles that enable people to build happy and prosperous lives and helps people to change their circumstances by changing their thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
"However, there is more to New Thought than right thinking, it is also a lifestyle, metaphysics and religion. The International New Thought Alliance Bulletin defined New Thought in a 1916 edition as a system that practices what Jesus taught - healing, unity, cooperation, seeing the good in others and trusting God for all our needs."
Fletcher said New Thought focuses on the divinity within humanity.
"We are spiritual beings or expanding ideas in the mind of God, forever held in the mind of God and functioning under and operating through the law of mind action," she said.
"It is dedicated to the development of the latent possibilities in people. Jesus is the model for expressing our divinity. Jesus is honored as one who realized his oneness with God and exercised power, mastery and dominion over his mind, body and affairs.
"The same authority is available to us when we, too, begin to understand the spiritual principles that govern our lives, acquire a new way of seeing things, and have a new thought about our experiences. Then we shall no longer accept the error belief we are miserable sinners whose brief life on earth ends in heaven or hell. 'The Father (Source) and I are one' is true and the realization of this indwelling Christ empowers us to live happier, healthier and more prosperous lives."
According to Fletcher, New Thought is considered a science because science is demonstrable and knowledge of Truth is also demonstrable. She said it is committed to finding and revealing the good and the beautiful in life.
"New Thought is also practical Christianity that empowers people to realize their potential by becoming consciously aware of the spirit of God within them," she said.
"Practical Christianity is more than an intellectual theory and can be understood by thinking logically beginning with a basic premise, adding clear-cut propositions and then carried sequentially to a conclusion."
She said many of New Thought Christianity's beliefs are derived from the Bible and the words of Jesus Christ.
"New Thought Practical Christianity is not a backward glance at the life of Jesus, but a forward look at the Christ spirit in all people and the expectation of its fulfillment," Fletcher said.
"Whereas, traditional Christianity is founded upon a particular set of beliefs about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This savior, God, is believed to have delivered and rescued sinful humanity. The New Testament focuses on how his blood was shed for us and how we are reconciled back to God because of his sacrificial act.
"In the past, New Thought Christianity has interpreted the canonical gospels in an allegorical manner in order to uncover an alternative interpretation of who Jesus was. However, discoveries of the mid-20th century have enabled us to study newly available documents that, even literally interpreted, closely resemble the teachings of New Thought Christianity.
"These scriptures, though external to the Judeo-Christian canon, provide the foundation for New Thought Christian teachings. The Gospel of Thomas is a primary example and resource for understanding of the message of Jesus and how the allegorical method of interpretation plays an important part in helping us to understand the deeper meaning of the canonical scriptures."
Fletcher said the key to understanding the gospels lies in the word "Christ". Christ is not the name of a person, she added, but the title given to the universal idea of divine son-ship. And that people must therefore discern when Jesus the man is speaking in the gospels and when the Christ speaks in its absolute.
"The second coming refers not to a literal coming again of Jesus, but to our coming into an awareness of the Christ within us," she said.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life. The Son of God is the spiritual potential of all humankind. The son of man is a soul that is not awakened to its divine origin and nature. The son of man is awakened to its divinity and consciously shows forth the likeness of God."
While student performance improved marginally in more than half of the 27 Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exam categories, on average students have continued to earn Ds and Es in English language and mathematics, respectively, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Education yesterday.
According to the results, 588 students received at least a grade of C or above in maths, English language and a science.
This represents a five percent increase over the 561 students who achieved that mark last year.
At a press conference at the Ministry of Education yesterday, Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald added that the percentage of students who achieved grades between A and C in BGCSEs declined from 48.57 percent to 46.49 percent.
He said the highest percentage of any grade awarded was C at 26 percent.
"Last year, during the press release of the results, I indicated that we in the ministry were concerned about the performance of our students in BJC (Bahamas Junior Certificate) and BGCSE mathematics," Fitzgerald said.
"This year, we are pleased to note the improved performance at both levels and sincerely hope that this trend continues."
There were improvements recorded in 16 of the BGCSE subjects tested.
Those include book-keeping, accounts, clothing construction, electrical installation, English language, graphical communication, literature, music, physics, mechanics, combined science, commerce, French, religious studies, maths and office procedures.
Results in art and design scheme C remain unchanged from 2013.
Other subjects where there was a decline in performance include art and design scheme A, history, keyboarding skills, art and design scheme B, biology, carpentry and joinery, chemistry, economics, food and nutrition and Spanish.
In total, 922 students achieved a C grade or above in five or more BGCSE subjects, compared to the 996 students in the previous year, representing a 7.43 percent decrease.
In 2012, 947 achieved those grades; in 2011, 937; in 2010, 921; in 2009, 834 and in 2008, 824 students received those grades.
A total of 1,545 students earned a D grade or above in at least five subjects, compared to the 1,626 students in 2013.
This represents a 5.98 percent decrease.
There were 1,594 students who achieved this in 2012; 1,554 students in 2011 and 1,582 students in 2010.
There was a marginal increase in the percentage of G grades awarded, according to the statistics.
"I wish to admonish our students as they begin their 2014-2015 academic pursuits to continue to strive for excellence," Fitzgerald said.
"Embrace the opportunities available to you. Hard work does pay off. The journey of a thousand miles certainly begins with a first step. With God's help you can succeed."
According to Fitzgerald, 6,789 candidates registered to sit the BGCSE exams, a decrease of 4.92 percent compared to the 7,117 candidates registered in 2013.
Asked about the reason for the near five percent decrease in participation this year, Education Director Lionel Sands said more students in grades 10 and 11 took BGCSE exams last year.
Regarding the BJCs, approximately 8,987 candidates registered to sit the exams.
The average for eight of the 10 BJC subjects improved when compared to 2013.
These subjects include art, craft study, general science, family and consumer science, maths, religious studies, social studies and technical drawing.
Results declined in English language and health science, according to the results.
Maths is the only subject that improved by a letter grade from E to D+, which is the best result in the last decade, according to Fitzgerald.
The letter grade for the other nine subjects remained unchanged.
The Bahamas like many other nations around the world in this 21st century is plagued with socio-economic challenges that seem to stifle the progress of our nation towards the path that leads to the desired level of peace, prosperity and security for our people. The economy is certainly uppermost in the minds of our people as we tread through these turbulent times with many looking to the government for solutions to our economic woes. However, there is a growing concern over the increased level of social degradation that we are experiencing as evidenced by the myriad social issues that we are confronted with daily. Unfortunately, it appears that our young people continue to be the major casualties of this degradation. This impact on our youth raises the fundamental question: Are we failing our youth and will we continue to lose successive generations of Bahamians to issues such as poor economic policies, inadequate education and social ills?
The current circumstance
At the government level, it appears that little progress has been made in improving both our economy and the educational system in our nation. The inability of the government to diversify our economy to provide more job opportunities for its people is accelerating the increase in our poverty levels. The recent global economic downturn has highlighted the inefficiencies of our economic model that is based primarily on the service industry with dependence on financial services and tourism. It also stresses the regressive nature of our tax code and inefficient methods of collecting government revenue. Most importantly, it reinforces the harsh reality of our gross dependency on the prosperity of the American and European economies. The more we witness events unfold in The Bahamas, one can't help but wonder whether we are regressing rather than progressing.
Over the last five years alone, our national debt has risen to an astounding $4.5 billion, our debt-to-GDP ratio has increased from some 30 percent to approximately 60 percent. Our deficit currently stands at more than eight percent and the unemployment rate has doubled during the last few years, contributing to the tremendous amount of foreclosures in our nation. The government has justified its borrowing as the only alternative course of action to prevent a collapse in the Bahamian economy. However, one wonders whether this was in fact the only option available and if agreed, if the borrowed funds were invested in a manner that benefitted a wide cross-section of Bahamians or just a select few. The aforementioned statistics suggest that the funds were arguably mismanaged and invested heavily in infrastructural projects that benefitted a small percentage of contractors and companies while the country witnessed and continues to witness increased social degradation.
Being in a position where it was strapped for cash and with revenues down, the government has made minimal investment in social programs comparative to its investment in infrastructural projects and has significantly increased the tax burden on its people in addition to raising the national debt. It is common knowledge that investment in key social programs is important for the sustenance of our nation and will help minimize the rising social issues that plague our nation. Focusing on education, it is a given that an educated Bahamas will position itself to play a more vital role on the global stage. The general consensus still exists that education in various forms including academic, athletic, social and culture among others, provides an individual with an opportunity to pursue a better way of life. In The Bahamas, it appears that there are classes of Bahamian children who are being denied adequate education, particularly in the public school system.
The need for a better education system
The Department of Statistics' labor force report reveals that two percent of our labor force has had no schooling and six percent has stopped short of a primary education while nine percent of our total work force has not completed secondary education. The aforesaid percentages suggest that approximately 20 percent of our working population is inadequately equipped academically to compete on a national level, let alone a global level. There is further evidence that shows that approximately 20 percent of our work force receives a university level education while 10 percent attend some other form of tertiary education. As a result, 53 percent of our work force attain at the most an education at the secondary level.
Combined with the aforementioned startling statistics is the fact that the national grade average based upon national examination results in 2011 sits at a discontented D average. Even more disturbing is the fact that the D average includes the private schooling system, which if removed, will probably significantly decrease the national average. It is reported that the recent examination results evidence that approximately 34 percent of 5,000 plus students sitting the English examination received C or above while some 24 percent who took math received a C or above. Consequently, 65 percent of our children received an English grade of D or lower while some 75 percent of our children received a grade of D or lower. The lack of sufficient teachers to teach key subjects such as math, physics, chemistry and other technical courses, has been blamed for these unimpressive statistics. It is important to ascertain whether sufficient measures are being put in place to encourage more Bahamians to become educators.
In the absence of an aggressive recruitment process, are we exhausting all avenues to engage qualified teachers that will produce the desired results? Further, what measures are being taken to reduce the overcrowding in our public system to provide for more favorable teacher-student ratios? If we are serious about preparing the next generation for the future, greater emphasis must be placed upon adequate and quality education of our children. We must see to it that more of the 53 percent mentioned above have the opportunity to receive tertiary level education and greater opportunities to obtain the same locally. Of particular note is the long overdue upgrade of The College of The Bahamas to university status.
Investment in infrastructure is absolutely necessary to any society, but a lack of investment in a nation's citizens and, more importantly, the education of its youth will minimize or eradicate any lasting effect of infrastructural development due to a lack of qualified citizens in society with a propensity to increase social ills. In this regard, it is welcomed news to hear that the Progressive Liberal Party has committed to doubling the budget allocation to education if it wins the next general election; however, such allotment must be dispensed in an effective manner that will produce favorable results in education.
Many believe that our leaders are bankrupt of ideas to address our failing education system. The curriculum itself is widely believed to be deficient and outdated. The lack of adequate education among our youth will inevitably lead to a further increase in social issues and will inevitably increase youth engagement in illegal activities such as the drug trade, guns and arms trafficking and anti-social behavior such as gang violence.
A lie has been sold to our children that the perceived rewards of these activities afford them a lifestyle that may otherwise be unattainable by securing an honest job and obtaining a better way of life through conventional norms. The level of violence among our youth had increased to such an alarming rate that a school-based policing program was initiated by the Christie administration of 2002-2007. It is worth noting that the current administration canceled the program in 2007. However, their subsequent realization of the wisdom of the program in the midst of escalating levels of violence in our schools prompted the re-implementation of the program in 2011. In today's Bahamas, our young people should not be faced with the challenge of having a fear of attending school due to violence among their peers; neither should teachers be afraid to carry out their functions as nation builders in fear of a potential violent backlash.
I believe that what is lacking in our society is an 'all hands on deck' approach in our society by our parents, religious leaders, politicians and civic organizations. However, we must invest appropriately in the education of our children to acquire the requisite skill-set, diversifying our economy to provide opportunities for both educated and technical Bahamians, taking the necessary steps to reduce our national debt and deficit as well as implementing a progressive tax system in order to move our country forward.
Failure to implement the necessary policies looking at the current environment in which we live begs the questions: Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Should we hope again? Will the Bahamian dream be preserved for future generations? Where do we go from here?
oArinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments can be directed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ever tried toasting hamburger buns on a grill? It takes uncanny timing to achieve an even medium brown across the buns. Typically, they remain white for what seems like far too long. Then it's as if time accelerates, and they blow past toasted to burnt in the time it takes to flip the burgers.
The same phenomenon is at work when you toast a marshmallow over a campfire: wait and turn, wait and turn... then brown, black and -- poof! -- it's aflame. The problem is perhaps most acute when cooking shiny-skinned fish on a grill or under a broiler. Once the skin turns from silver to brown, the heat pours into the fillet, and the window of opportunity for perfect doneness slams shut with amazing speed.
Anytime you cook light-colored food with high heat, inattention is a recipe for disaster. But the physics here is pretty simple, and once you understand it you can use several methods to improve your odds of making that perfectly toasted bun, golden half-melted marshmallow, or juicy grilled fillet.
At high temperatures -- about 400 F (200 C) and up -- a substantial part of the heat that reaches the food arrives in the form of infrared light waves rather than via hot air or steam.
The higher the temperature, the bigger the part that radiant heat plays in cooking. But this form of heat interacts with color in a profound way.
The bottom of a hamburger bun looks white because it reflects most of the visible light that hits it, and the same is true for infrared heat rays. There is a reason that white cars are popular in Phoenix -- they stay cooler in the sunshine, which is full of infrared radiation.
A silvery, mirror-like fish skin is even more reflective than a white car. About 90 percent of the radiant heat striking it simply bounces away. Because only around 10 percent of the energy sinks in and warms the fish, cooking initially creeps along slowly but steadily.
That changes rapidly, however, as soon as the food gets hot enough to brown. It's like changing from a white shirt to a black shirt on a sunny summer day. As the food darkens, that 10 percent of energy absorbed rises by leaps and bounds, and the temperature at the surface of the food soars.
So browning accelerates, which increases heat absorption, which boosts the temperature; it's a vicious circle. By the time you can get a spatula under the fillet to flip it over, it may be almost black, reflecting just 10 percent of the heat and sucking in 90 percent.
There are at least three ways around this problem. The simplest is to stare, hawk-like, at the food and lower or remove the heat as soon as browning starts. That works fine for marshmallows but is not always practical in the kitchen or backyard barbecue.
In some cases, you can darken the color of the food at the start, for example by slathering it with a dark sauce or searing it in a very hot skillet before putting it on the grill. This is a way to make a fish steak cook more like a beef steak, which is fairly dark even when raw and so doesn't experience such a dramatic shift in heat absorption. This method generally shortens the cooking time.
Finally, try piling other ingredients, such as sliced onions or zucchini, between the food and the coals or the broiler element to moderate the intensity of the radiant heat. Cooking times will lengthen -- and you may end up having to toss out the sacrificial buffer ingredients if they get charred -- but that window of opportunity will stay open longer.