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Unlicensed teachers are filling 22 posts

The Education Ministry has granted 22 exemptions to unlicensed teachers, allowing them to fill vacancies in the public school system.

Seventeen exemptions were announced in the House of Assembly last week by Education Minister Dame Jennifer Smith.

She did not have a total figure on hand to respond to parliamentary questions asked by Shadow Minister Grant Gibbons last Friday.

Dame Jennifer said all the exemptions granted were for Bermudian teachers. Cabinet approval had been given, she told the House.

The total number was confirmed last night by a Ministry spokeswoman.

Dr Gibbons, who said he had encountered some difficulty in obtaining the total count, charged that: “There obviously is a concern if the number continues to grow. It means that children are being taught by unlicensed teachers, or teachers who don’t come qualified in that particular area.”

By law, teachers cannot take a job in a school on the Island unless they are registered by Bermuda Educators Council although there can be exemptions when there is a shortage in a subject area. In order to be registered, they must hold a university degree or equivalent qualification granted by an institution recognised by BEC. They must also have successfully completed a course of initial training for teachers in schools at an institution recognised by the council.

The order allowing the exemptions was gazetted in November, with an exemption committee presiding over the placement of educators. The teachers were placed in response to gaps in the school system which ranged from positions left unfilled to teachers who did not arrive for school.

Dr Gibbons said he accepted there would be “a certain number of teacher vacancies”.

“We had a bit of a slow start to this school year,” he said.

“Students are not getting the quality they should expect, and this was one of the principle areas that the Hopkins Report stressed. It’s five-and-a-half years later.”

Teacher training was a key recommendation of the 2007 report on educational reform.

According to the Minister, publishing the exemptions would reduce the chance of educators being used outside their approved subjects.

Dr Gibbons said: “I believe they are trying to plug gaps where they don’t have qualified people. An exemption committee is approving them to teach in an area where they’re not qualified.”

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Published February 17, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 17, 2012 at 5:39 am)

Unlicensed teachers are filling 22 posts

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