By Richard Bhainie
School of the Nations student John McGrath, who made history when he scored 99 out of 100 at the Cambridge International Examinations, was presented with an Outstanding Cambridge Learner Award by President Dr. Irfaan Ali on Wednesday.
The Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards are a group of awards issued by Cambridge Assessment International Education to recognise exceptional learner achievement in Cambridge examinations in over 136 countries around the world.
McGrath was honoured for his performance at the June 2021 Cambridge International Examinations where he was the top student for the Cambridge International Advanced Subsidiary (AS) English Language exam, surpassing over 1 million students.
“Especially in an environment, in a region, in which mathematics and English continue to be two of the greatest challenges for us, you have excelled in one of these areas,” President Ali told the young student who has a keen interest in tourism.
President Ali, during the ceremony at the Office of the President on Wednesday, told McGrath that he is “at a good place” with his accomplishment but he must not look at it as the end since the journey has just begun. The Head of State also reminded him that an analytical and innovative mind is an equally important component of education.
“Sometimes people have a misconception about what tourism is. Tourism requires the best of writers, the best of promoters, the best of marketing skills but more importantly, tourism is about managing people,” President Ali said.
President Ali also told McGrath that the field of tourism is one that is essential for the development of Guyana, noting that there are many opportunities for him to pursue his interest locally and pledged the government’s support to assist.
“Do not allow this accomplishment to be a singular celebration but this accomplishment should be a motivation to others and the only person who can do that is yourself,” President Ali told McGrath as he challenged him to motivate others nationwide to accomplish similar feats.
Offering brief remarks, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand said that Guyana is at a place where any aspect of tourism studies is most needed and most welcomed, noting that the government stands ready to support him.
Simone Phillips, High School Principal at School of the Nations, said that the academic institution is “proud to be able to contribute” to McGrath’s success at this period of his education journey and wished him well on his “bright future ahead.”