Teachers should be internationally certified

All public schoolteachers should be internationally certified as part of a proposed sweeping reform to education, a new report has urged.

Inaction to make “radical change” to the education system would be the “most significant missed opportunity” in Bermuda’s history.

The stark warning came in the Future State Report unveiled yesterday.

The 31-page document was created by the BermudaFirst think-tank and is the second phase of its national socioeconomic plan.

The group recommends that an independent authority be created to be “responsible for the performance management of educators and researching and implementing an holistic public education system that is appropriately sized/structured, resulting in a learning environment that facilitates optimum student success”.

Nine specific recommendations for the authority are identified.

They include:

• A requirement that all principals be certified and able to demonstrate innovative thinking

• A requirement that all teachers be internationally certified from a list of institutions screened and approved by the Department of Education. “Bermudians who meet these standards would be given employment priority. Those who don’t won’t be given the job”

• Enact mental health legislation for pupils

In the report the group envisions a “world-class public education system that produces student outcomes where our children can successfully compete in the global marketplace and our citizens are lifelong learners”.

It adds that the reformed education system “must be based on accountability for outcomes”.

The report says: “Despite the best efforts to date, we have underperformed, and one glaring reality is the portion of our population that is unable to compete for existing job opportunities, much less present themselves as candidates for emerging 21st-century work.

“If we fail to act decisively now, our passivity will be viewed as the most significant missed opportunity in the history of the island.”

The group says the Department of Education “is part of the problem”.

The report explains: “A common criticism of the DoE by the many government-sponsored reviews is that the public education system lacks accountability at all levels and that the department lacks leadership, as well as a vision for improving public education.

“It follows that our public education system lacks the wherewithal to address the challenge of preparing our students for further study or the working world.”

It adds: “The existing public education and workforce development systems are not up to the task of meeting the needs of learners in a technologically driven 21st-century Bermuda.”

The report says the authority must be “progressive, agile and based upon accountability for educators and students”.

It adds: “This radical change is required, since tinkering with the existing school system for the last several decades has not — and there is no reason to expect that this approach will produce the results we deserve.

“The ineffective bureaucracy, lack of agility to adjust to externally and internally generated change and the ongoing politicisation of public education all combine to resist substantive progress.

“These root-cause systemic factors are the reason why BermudaFirst believes it is imperative that a radical shift transforming our oversight of public education to an independent authority is the change we must make.”

The group argues the authority would “deliver improved student outcomes, better quality classroom instruction and site-based leadership combining to make Bermuda a globally recognised education jurisdiction”.

It adds: “The authority, with revised hiring practices, a strong focus on performance management and a streamlined accountability structure, would be able to build mutually beneficial partnerships with all stakeholders who have a commitment to enabling our children to achieve and participate equitably in a growing sustainable economy.”

The report says that “turnover in ministerial leadership” must be reversed.

It adds: “We are hopeful that the Government will commit its resources and political will to this challenging task.

“The window of opportunity is now; each day of delay makes the journey of change more formidable.”

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Published Sep 13, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 13, 2019 at 3:34 pm)

Teachers should be internationally certified

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