Parents, pupils, faculty and alumni gathered on a bright morning in Castletown on Saturday 21st May to take part in the annual Founders’ Day. Set in a marquee on the King William’s College grounds, the annual prize giving ceremony is a traditional celebration of students’ academic and extracurricular achievements, and this year featured a presentation by KWC alumni, the Rt. Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, Leader of the opposition, House of Representatives, National Assembly, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Governors’ Chairman, Nigel Wood, opened the ceremony with a brief welcome address before introducing the Principal at King William’s, Martin Humphreys. Mr Humphreys’ speech was particularly poignant this year and reflected on the recent tragic death of sixth form student, Dosch MacLeod, whose family were in attendance, and how strongly the school had rallied around the family and fellow students in their shared grief.
The Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila presented pupils with their awards and followed with an address to the audience. Whilst the Rt. Hon. Gbajabiamila entertained with stories of his introduction to life at King William’s College, he also emphasised the importance of education, stating: “We must as a world put an end to these attacks on education. We must protect the power of transformation that education brings to the world.” Talking about the kidnapping of over 200 school girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram and the story of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who stood up for education, he added: “These two incidents occurred in far-away Nigeria and Pakistan, but they have the potential of wiping away a generation of children that could affect and change the world. In the year 2000, the United Nations made a strong commitment to make sure every child is in education, but this commitment is threatened on a regular basis by acts of terror.” The Rt. Hon. Mr. Gbajabiamila continued, “I have no doubt in my mind that, however tenuous, there is a correlation or nexus between education, or its lack thereof, and poverty, crime and terror. Ignorance is often referred to as a disease. It is the most dangerous of all diseases.”
“As a legislator in Africa’s biggest country, economy and democracy, I have made education one of my top priorities. I have pushed through parliament several education Bills including the establishment of vocation schools for skill acquisition in all regions of the country.”
Bringing the day’s proceedings to a close, Mr Nigel Wood returned to the stage to offer the audience some concluding remarks: “This year in particular, I approach my closing remarks with a heavy heart. The loss of one of us is never easy to bear, particularly when that individual was so young, so vibrant, merely starting their journey in life. It feels so wrong.” Continuing, Mr Wood added. “It is also absolutely right and proper that Founders’ Day is a celebration of your achievement and your success. This is a busy, broad school but at the end of the day the excellence of teaching, the focus on the individual, the breadth of our offering, is what it is all about.” Mr Wood then elaborated upon a series of objectives, including a new Charitable Manx Foundation called Bishop Barrow’s Foundation: “In order to deliver a modern, broad excellent educational product we need to continually invest in our teachers, improve our infrastructure and our buildings. I perceive a change,” he concluded. “We will continue to embrace that change and we are determined to succeed.”