(Original script, may differ from delivered version)
Ambassador Uyehara, Mr Dean, Dear teachers, Ladies and gentlemen,
In this year, when not only Britain, but the whole world is celebrating an important anniversary in the history of theatre and literature, 400 year since the death of Shakespeare, it’s a good time to stop and think about the phenomenon of globalisation; the need and aspiration of the human race to be connected closer together, to be able to communicate, do business, travel and engage with each other regardless of the distance or difference that stands between them.
Multiculturalism, plurilingualism, integration, inclusion are some of the concepts which reflect the growing need of cultures, nations and individuals to remove the artificial boundaries that were built through history.
English is a global phenomenon. It is the phenomenon which enabled globalisation.
It is not a foreign language but a means of communication. It is not a school subject but a gateway to world education. English is a basic life skill, and for many young people around the world, it is a way of living. Without English, a person may feel a little lonely in the world of digital communications where English is the lingua franca.
But also, English is an adventure.
You, the English teachers, know this better than anybody else.
At the same time, English plays a key role in the economic growth and competitiveness of every country and its ability to engage with the world. This is especially true for Montenegro. Economic development of Montenegro and its successful integration in the world family of nations depends on the quality of its human capital and the quality of its education system. And that’s why, you, as English teachers have a critical role.
It’s almost as important as a mother’s role making sure her child grows into a healthy, happy and capable adult. You, the teacher, are key to your learners acquiring the skills which will enable them to find employment, become successful professionals, in order to lead a normal life and integrate into different cultural communities.
The Montenegrin educational system faces many challenges today: changes brought about by reforms, a demand on the teacher to acquire a multitude of new skills, economic crisis but then again, ambition to align with international standards and become part of the European family.
Therefore it is crucial for Montenegrin education system to have teachers who are committed to their learners’ success, teachers who are highly motivated, and most importantly, who never stop developing professionally in order to keep their performance at a high level, to stay attuned to the technological changes and provide the best possible education for the learners.
Therefore, I am very pleased to see so many of you today, on a Saturday, wanting to learn, to share and to be part of a professional community; so many of you, showing your commitment to excellence because today, in the globalised world, excellence is the only option.
I encourage you to keep your zest for continuous professional development, you hunger to constantly improve, because as we know, a mediocre teacher tells, a good teacher explains, a superior teacher demonstrates, but the great teacher inspires.
But I cannot leave this audience without a quote from Shakespeare, 400 years after his death. It is a melancholy one where in the words of the Prospero in the Tempest, as he lays down his staff, Shakespeare is laying down his quill pen at the end of his working life.
…But this rough magic
I here abjure, and, when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their sense that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book…
Prospero did put down his staff, but Shakespeare’s books refuse to drown.