Celebrating NIHERST’s 30th Anniversary & the Legacy of Maureen Manchouck - January 17 2015




Date:    Saturday January 17, 2015
Venue:   Regency Ballroom, Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, Trinidad
Time:    6.00 pm

  • Senator Dr. the Honourable Bhoendradatt Tewarie, Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development
  • Senator the Honourable Fazal Karim, Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training
  • Dr. the Honourable Tim Gopeesingh, Minister of Education
  • His Excellency Yoshimasa Tezuka, Japanese Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago
  • His Excellency Gauri Shankar Gupta, the High Commissioner of India to the Trinidad and Tobago.
  • The Honourable Madam Justice Charmaine Pemberton
  • The Honourable Madam Justice Patricia Sobion Awai
  • Mrs. Susan Shurland, Secretary General of the Trinidad and Tobago Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • Dr. Marjorie Thorpe, Chairman of the Public Service Commission
  • Mrs. Ingrid Seerattan, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology and other Permanent Secretaries present
  • Professor Prakash Persad, Chairman of the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (otherwise simply referred to as NIHERST) and other NIHERST Board Directors
  • Ms. Jocelyn Lee Young, Acting President of NIHERST and other members of the NIHERST Executive Management Team
  • Mrs. Maureen Manchouck, Guest of Honor, Outgoing President of NIHERST and her family
  • Professor Dyer Narinesingh, President of the University of Trinidad and Tobago
  • Professor Clement Sankat, Principal of the University of the West Indies St Augustine campus
  • Dr. Trevor Alleyne, President of the Caribbean Academy of Sciences
  • Mrs. Zalayhar Hassanali, Former First Lady of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
  • Messrs. Nazimool Mohammed, my Special Advisor as well as Cornell Buckradee Advisor
  • Members of the Media
  • Distinguished Guests
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening.

I am delighted to be here to help celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology. You have certainly come a long way in three (3) decades. We are particularly fortunate to be joined by so many distinguished persons and old friends. Your presence here is always most welcome and it pays due testimony to the special status of this remarkable institution that we are here to honour today.

I am also most delighted to be here to pay tribute to Mrs. Maureen Manchouck, NIHERST Past President, for her many years of dedicated service to the organisation, to the science community and to the nation at large.

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate NIHERST on the occasion of the achievement of this important milestone. For over a quarter of a century, NIHERST has expertly and creatively pursued its mandate to promote the development of science, technology and higher education in Trinidad and Tobago, and enhance the innovative and entrepreneurial capabilities of its people.

The story of NIHERST is really one of people… of the many people who have steadfastly piloted the journey of our twin island Republic in becoming a knowledge-intensive economy. From its visionary Chairmen Messrs. Victor Bruce, Professor Courtenay Bartholomew and the organisation’s first President Frank Rampersad, NIHERST’S employees must be congratulated for the outstanding strides made by the company in transforming the science and technology landscape of Trinidad and Tobago.

NIHERST has consistently supported government's twin goals of attaining sustainable development and diversifying the economy using the innate talents of our citizens and its natural resources. Like a treasured pearl that it is, NIHERST has excelled

  • in research and intelligence gathering that is shaping this nation’s science and technology policy,
  • in fostering a culture of science, innovation and entrepreneurship,
  • in playing a leadership role in non-formal education in science and technology within the Caribbean Region, and
  • in building collaborative global relationships with world class scientific institutions.

The management and staff of NIHERST have shown pioneering spirit, initiative and imagination and creativity as can be gleaned by the varied “first’s and record breaking projects” undertaken over the years - the annual Agricultural Research Seminar which focused on the still salient issue of food security, the establishment of the first Higher National Diploma in Computer Studies, the creation of the first diplomas in Medical Laboratory Technology and Environmental Health, assisting in forging the early use of the Internet in Trinidad and Tobago and NIHERST being the first institution in the Caribbean region to collaborate with NASA in the International Internship Program in the United States.

Perhaps, NIHERST’s biggest achievement is the ability to use its limited funding to undertake a diverse range of programs and projects especially in the field of science education.

NIHERST has gone through many changes since its genesis in a White Paper in 1975 and the ratification of the NIHERST Act ten (10) years later, but one thing remains the same. The business of NIHERST is to equip our people with the knowledge and skills needed for Trinidad and Tobago’s development. This dynamic institution has helped shape the nation’s science education landscape and cultivate a new generation of scientists and leaders.

Ladies and gentlemen,

You will appreciate that all of these gains that have been carefully garnered throughout the years have not been accomplished by accident. Just as your company’s success is based upon the efficient and clear formulation and execution of policy at the Board, managerial and employee level, so too the economic gains that we all today enjoy nationally have been the fruit of a carefully crafted vision that has been honed by this Government in consultation with business leaders, captains of industry and the citizenry.

And I have no doubt that this clear sighted vision and implementation of policy shall continue well into the future.

Science and technology are important parts of this country’s economic pillars. Perhaps you may have felt over the years that you have had a sporadic and unreliable level of engagement from government in both economic and policy terms.

But let me reassure you, tonight, by saying firmly that things have changed. We know that you matter. And there is very real and sustained support for what you do in Government now.

At this particular juncture in our history we, like the rest of the world, face significant challenges. However, what we have learnt from our past can certainly influence our future. It is for this reason that we must pursue advances in science, technology and innovation so that our children can reap the benefits.

With the pace of technological innovation today, we cannot afford to stand still for a year ... furthermore for two or three years. We have got to seize every opportunity to stay ahead.

And, with NIHERST helping us to navigate the waters, I am certain that Trinidad and Tobago will truly be a knowledge society.

In closing, ladies and gentlemen, I want to implore NIHERST to intensify its science education efforts. We need to get our young people off the streets … get them excited about science ... arouse their curiosity and spirit of discovery. Let them start inventing, creating and innovating. We do not want our children just to be consumers of the amazing things that science generates; we want them to be producers as well.

And we want to make sure that those who historically have not participated in the sciences, perhaps as much as others - such as our senior citizens, girls, and residents in the rural communities - that they are encouraged as well. I urge you to work with the Ministry of Science and Technology to expand our Girls in ICT program, the ICT FOR SENIORS initiative and our Community Based Star.tt Access Center project.

It is therefore a real pleasure for us, the Government, to be working closely with an organisation such as NIHERST. Together hand in hand, we help our business community enhance competitiveness through the use of technologies.

I would like to close with a saying from an American poet, Emily Dickinson, who said "You turn not older in years, but newer every day."

This idiom really embodies the modus operandi of the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology – an organisation that is continually breaking new ground.

Once again, let me congratulate the Chairman of the Board and its other Directors, Management and Staff of the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology for the wonderful attainment of its 30th Anniversary. NIHERST has performed, and delivered, at the very highest level. It has achieved everything its founders could ever have envisaged, and much, much more. It has grown into an institution of truly world class, with an international presence and a global outreach.

I have every confidence that the future of NIHERST will be every bit as successful, and worthwhile, as its very remarkable story has been so far.

My heartfelt tribute goes out to Mrs. Maureen Manchouk, Outgoing President of NIHERST. You have done your utmost to lead the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology with many achievements; much too numerous to detail here. You and I have enjoyed working together in an excellent relationship. You are a great daughter of Trinidad and Tobago and I wish you and your family all the best in the future.

May God continue to bless our country Trinidad and Tobago.

Please do enjoy the rest of your evening.