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Public education pride

Two students from Canterbury Boys High School share their pride in their school and public education at the Minister's and Secretary's Awards for Excellence.

This speech was delivered on Wednesday night by Min Joung and Samy Rahman.

Min Joung: Good afternoon distinguished guests, fellow award recipients, parents and educators.

Thank you for attending the 2017 Minister's and Secretary's Awards for Excellence.

I am Min Joung School Captain of Canterbury Boys High School. I am joined by Samy Rahman, our school's Vice-Captain. We are proud to be two of the 35 students here today acknowledged as recipients of the Minister's Award for Excellence in Student Achievement.

We are truly honoured to be presenting the Vote of Thanks in front of dignitaries and guests. On behalf of all the award recipients, we would like to thank and acknowledge:
*    The Honourable Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Education
*    Mr Mark Scott, Secretary of the NSW Department of Education
*    Mr David Hetherington, Executive Director of the Public Education Foundation

Hearing the reflections from the Minister and Mr Scott was indeed inspiring.

Samy Rahman: We would like to firstly congratulate all award recipients. What a great event that has acknowledged the outstanding achievements of students, teachers, parents and schools.

My public education journey started at Hampden Park Public School in 2006, where I fondly remember my first day at Kindergarten; partly because I was crying most of the day. But for the most part, from that first day, what struck me the most was Hampden Park's advocacy of cooperation which they firmly implanted into my character, as we sung the school song "A Circle of Friends" every week and upheld the school's motto ‘Learning Together'.

Fast-forward to 2012 and I am a small Year 7 student walking through the gates of Canterbury Boys High School. At our school there are over 40 languages spoken, making it in many ways a microcosm of the government system, where there is a strong value placed on diversity. Like so many schools, Canterbury Boys recognises its students as individuals, catering for their individual needs and talents.

Public education has empowered me to express my social views through White Ribbon Day, become an active community member through volunteering at BUPA Aged Care and understand the skills I will need to participate in university and the workforce. And so, I can proudly say that NSW public education has allowed me to become the best version of myself and has provided me with the necessary skills to tackle the world after high school and make a real impact.

I would like to share the character traits of an inspirational teacher that has helped me achieve feats I thought I was incapable of. This was my economics teacher. He was a strong advocate of ‘leaving no student behind' and took great lengths in striving for this. He created an official Facebook page for any inquiries and even a Twitter page tagging all students to contemporary economics issues. This fiery passion of a teacher, and their ability to truly make a difference in a student's life represents what I know to be true: that public education provides an education that cannot be matched.

Min Joung: We are proud to be the product of a system that supports over 800,000 students across New South Wales. It provides both academic and extracurricular opportunities for every child including those sick in hospital, newly arrived migrants, and those pursuing selective opportunities. In its essence, it is about providing the best opportunities to all students, no matter their background, ability, wealth or gender.

As a migrant myself, I can proudly say that I am a prime example of our system's focus on equity. My family moved to Australia in 2008. I knew little to no English when entering Year 3 at my first primary school, Austral Public School.

I attended five different NSW public schools in areas including Leppington and Carlingford. Through all the hardships associated with immigrating, public education recognised my leadership potential and allowed me to grow into the person I am today. From my role as vice-captain at Roselea Public School, participation in our school Student Representative Council and this year as school captain.

Without wanting to repeat anything Samy said previously, Canterbury Boys High has provided me with opportunities for me to grow as a leader, as an active member of both the school and wider community in events such as Australian Constitutional Convention, Secretary For A Day program, White Ribbon Day and a multitude of volunteering opportunities. My school has also recognised my artistic talent and provided me with performance opportunities, performing in local community events and teaching local primary school students to play instruments.

On behalf of all of the award recipients, I acknowledge how the Minister's Award for Excellence in Student Achievement launches our journey into much greater success; providing opportunities for us and also reflecting the hard work and dedication throughout our school years. It is the spirit of hard work and diligence fostered by public education that provides a brighter future for both Australian communities and communities worldwide.

Thank you to all the parents for your support, and school staff and teachers for providing a quality education. Lastly, I would like to express our gratitude to the Public Education Foundation and the dedicated guests for their continued support of public schools.

Thank you.

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Mark Scott

About the Secretary

Mark Scott is Secretary of the Department of Education. He has worked as a teacher, in public administration and as a journalist and media executive. He is committed to public education and learning environments where every child can flourish.

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