Budget savings reallocated at education ministry
Extra cash from cost savings in the Department of Education have gone to finance special programmes, the Minister of Education said.
Diallo Rabain told the House of Assembly that there was no increase in the department’s $114 million budget, but it had found $2.3 million in savings and reallocated the funds.
Extra money has gone to finance autism spectrum education, the continued implementation of standards-based grading, and science, technology, arts and maths programmes.
Mr Rabain said Steam classes have been added to primary schools, with eight more to be added this year.
He added the department would release annual reports on progress on the Plan 2022 blueprint for the education system.
He also told the House work was under way on succession planning for the island’s principals. Mr Rabain said that although the budget for substitute teachers had decreased, the change was offset by increased funding for teaching assistants.
The Minister highlighted the Government’s intention to phase out middle schools in favour of specialist signature schools and promised that a round-table group will be set up to help introduce the change.
Cole Simons, the Shadow Minister of Education, said he was happy to see Government make progress on Plan 2022, and that the budget for the Ministry showed “signs of financial discipline”.
He added: “Teachers have said they are still taking money out of their pockets to pay for supplies for their classrooms.”
Mr Simons said it was a “perennial problem” that had to be tackled.
He added: “We need to somehow support these teachers, reimburse them for any expenses they have to make things better for their students.”
Mr Simons also asked for more information about how many pupils required special needs education and how many high-risk pupils were being treated by school psychologists.
He said: “We need to know the scale of the challenge because these people are our loved ones and we need to give them the support they rightfully deserve.”
Mr Rabain said there were 706 pupils on individual educational programmes.