Dear Editor – Over the last few weeks I’ve been seeing the school placements advertised in the newspapers and it’s motivated me to write this personal message to all the youth and their families whose names did not make that list.
First and foremost I want you to know that education is a human right, as outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Solomon Islands is a signatory.
No child should ever have to sit an exam of pay a fee to determine whether they can access education.
As a citizen of this country you and your parents should demand that your government invests adequately in education and support candidates that make education a priority.
Secondly, I want to know that a single exam result does not make you a success or a failure. There are many reasons why you may have failed your exam.
Maybe you had nothing to eat, maybe there is violence in your home, maybe you have an undiagnosed learning disability that makes it hard to read and concentrate, maybe the exam results were leaked to other students, maybe you involved with the wrong crowd…you may have failed but you are not a failure.
Finally I want to say, don’t give up on your education or your future.
Look for second chance options, and know that ‘learning’ happens in lots of places, not just in the formal education system.
Read as many books as you can find, and if you can’t read, find someone to help you.
Sign up for short courses and programs run by NGOs and churches, find a job, start a business.
Know that some of this country’s most successful people also dropped out of school but they never gave up.
Parents, don’t be too hard on your children if they didn’t make the cut.
They’ll already been feeling ashamed and your criticism will only make it worse.
Help them to see the possibilities and support them to do something useful for their family and community.
I too was once a failure!
I almost didn’t pass grade 10, but thankfully I had people who believed in me.