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Make a meaningful contribution to society

By Rachael Espinet Saturday, January 11 2014

Students of St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain, have been challenged to make a meaningful contribution to their society with the education they are receiving.

Caroline Sirju-Ramnarine, the vice-president of corporate operations for Atlantic LNG, gave this challenge to the students yesterday at their prize-giving ceremony, in the school’s chapel on Pembroke Street.

Sirju-Ramnarine, who was the feature speaker, told the girls about Malala Yousafzai the 16-year-old student from Pakistan, who was shot by the Taliban in 2012.

She described Malala as a girl – a teenager, who was just like them. Sirju-Ramnarine told the students Malala had classes and exams just like them. Her favourite subject is Physics even though she does not get the best grades, and she is “crazy about cricket.”

Sirju-Ramnarine also told the girls that on October 9, 2012, when Malala was 15-years-old she was shot by the Taliban on a school bus because she actively and publicly spoke for the right of an education for all girls and women in her country.

“She raised her voice for a cause that was greater than her, but one which would open windows of opportunity for millions of women.

“When the Taliban gunman asked ‘Who is Malala?’ it was a signal of not just who she was, but the choices she had made, the struggle for which she had taken a personal responsibility, the women she was trying to help, and the change she was trying to make. So my question this morning is, who are you?” Sirju-Ramnarine said.

Sirju-Ramnarine told the students they were fortunate to be born into a society where they “enjoy many freedoms” that millions around the world do not have. She said because of their advantages, there are also high expectations of them.

“You sit here, not just as students of this institution, but as agents of transformation. You simply have to pick up a newspaper to see that there is much to do in our country, and in our global community,” Sirju-Ramnarine said. She told the students that no matter where they go, whether they live in the country, or anywhere in the world, the students would find that there are opportunities where they could lend these voice and their courage. “Education without a purpose and without courage is merely skills training. Talent without purpose is wasted. So what are we rewarding this morning? Are we rewarding the highly skilled, or are we rewarding advocates of change?” she said.

The theme for the prize-giving ceremony was “despite our differences, we are all members of one community.”

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