PLP PRESS CONFERENCE REMARKS: MONDAY, MAY 29th 2017
MP DIALLO RABAIN
PLP Spokesperson for Education, Diallo Rabain
Good Afternoon and welcome to the members of the media.
I am joined today by my colleagues, MP Rolfe Commissiong, PLP Spokesperson for Labour and Workforce Development and Senator Tinee Furbert, PLP Spokesperson for Disability Affairs the PLP Senate member.
It goes without saying that a quality education can lead to solutions for many of the ills we see today in our society with our youth. Yes, it is of paramount importance that we get education right and the hardest thing about something as big and important as public school education is that there is no one size fits all plan that will work for everyone.
For years and through multiple plans, reports, strategies and Ministers, we still do not seem to be as close as we should to getting it right. The minor victories we have with the occasional shining star leaving public school is just not good enough. The percentage of the highflyers is still too low.
We need a Public Education system that instills confidence in our parents to trust their children to attend and one that provides the all the facilities and programs necessary for all students to achieve their maximum potential. For far too long, successive governments have allowed political interference to affect the performance of those that we have trusted to ensure our Education System does what it is supposed to do, produce quality graduates. The long line of successive Ministers and their influence, whether positive or negative, over the system is proof of our need to start there with reform.
The next PLP Government will look to remove that traditional political interference by ensuring the Minister of Education will retain an arm’s length oversight of our educational offerings. In other words, it is time for those educational professionals that are in place to bear the responsibility and accountability to ensure our education system is performing as it should. It is time for us to ensure that educators and administrators we recruit are able to do the job they are supposed to do, free of political influence.
Another area of paramount importance is the provision of teachers with adequate resources to ensure they are able to be the best teachers they can be. This is not limited to ensuring schools are equipped with the modern necessitates for today’s student such as Wi-Fi, adequate school supplies and updated technology. Utilising the Bermuda College, a Teacher Training Institute to address annual and continuing training for our teachers and also providing an avenue to assist teachers needing to be certified will be established.
In addition to the envisioned new hierarchy just mentioned and more teacher resources, our dedication transforming education has not waivered since our 2014 reply to the throne Speech. We still intend to see the following:
- Remove Social Promotion at all levels
- Develop ways to strengthen parental involvement which includes a revisit of the Hopkin’s Report recommendation of the establishment of School Board of Governors
- Provide Principals with more Autonomy to run their schools
- Introduction of additional ability to study for and sit exam certifications such as CXC, IB, RSA, and City & Guilds.
- Continue to consolidate pre-schools with Primary Schools and introduce a mandatory foundation year for the final year of pre-school
- Inclusion of Bermuda history as mandatory with all registered school systems
- Realign our current curriculum to provide a national standard from Pre-School to High School
- Create Signature Schools that will provide additional resources beyond what will be already offered at all schools and removing the geographical restrictions to allow any child to attend the school best suited for their skill set and interests regardless of where they reside or where the school is located.
- Tap into resources already found locally by using retired teachers and specialty area professionals to help develop school programs
- Strengthen the Bermuda College to offer more 4-year degree offerings in partnership with overseas tertiary institutions
- Full examination of how our children are being taught to address today’s and tomorrow’s employment opportunities: S.T.E.A.M, for example, and align the Ministry and Department of Education to be more closely aligned with the Department of Workforce Development.
- In consultation with industry and relevant stake holders, introduce exposure to Technical Education for today’s world as early as the first year of what is the current middle school education track.
The PLP is still committed to initially re-purposing the current middle school system with the signature school concept but with the eventual phasing out of middle school system to return to the previously successful 2-stream system. Statistical data has shown that there is a severe lack of trust in the current Middle School System and one thing that is paramount is to restore trust in the Public-School System. In order to avoid as much disruption as possible, the transformation of the current 3-stream system to a 2-stream will be not rushed and will be done in such a way to provide a smooth and orderly transition that will have minimal effect on students and teachers alike.
The PLP are confident that:
- once our educators and administrators have more creative control over the system they work within,
- once our educators are provided with the necessary resources needed to ensure quality delivery of learning and
- once parents are confident their children will have the best possible exposure to the things necessary to have a truly rewarding and productive school career from pre-school to high school,
We will see our Education System move beyond where it is currently to being the first choice for all of Bermuda’s parents. Education is critical and needs all of Bermuda to get behind the need to get it right.