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‘Take politics out of education’

Education should be depoliticised to make it “about the children, not the adults”, according to outgoing minister Wayne Scott.

An independent entity similar to the Bermuda Tourism Authority should be considered to stop politics getting in the way of progress, the former Minister of Education told The Royal Gazette.

In a wide-ranging interview, the One Bermuda Alliance politician also hinted a Bermudian was in line for the education commissioner role which was turned down by non-Bermudian Paul Wagstaff last month.

Mr Scott resigned from Cabinet last week, with Cole Simons taking over as the island's 12th education minister in 19 years.

Critics say the “hot potato” nature of the role has been a signal of chronic failure to take responsibility and get the job done.

Sharing his thoughts on how education can move forward, Mr Scott said: “We have never had that discussion but we need to depoliticise education. We have to get to a point where we recognise that education is about the children, not about the adults.

“Politics gets in the way and it is a disservice to our children. A board similar to what was done with the BTA should be considered — it is not something that has been looked at but what an interesting idea.”

Mr Scott has been a strong advocate of having a Bermudian education commissioner, and said he had hoped to announce a local in that role before his own resignation.

“The one disappointment about stepping down when I did was that I won't get to name the new commissioner, which should be happening soon,” he said.

“For the type of advocacy I have put forward for a Bermudian it would have been nice to be the one to have ultimately made the announcement, but I look forward to hearing that information in the coming weeks from the new minister.”

Asked whether his advocacy may have influenced the decision to hire a Bermudian — after Dubai-based Mr Wagstaff turned down the job for personal reasons — Mr Scott said: “I wouldn't disagree.” He continued: “The reality of it is, as the minister we are not directly involved in personnel decisions but I have let my thoughts be known and there is no question of what my views are.

“At the same time I have never wanted to go and make a decision that was not mine to make.

“We have to be frank — we want the best person around for our children but we have to be honest with ourselves — there are certain types of requirements that we might put forward that are not even possible to attain in Bermuda before you do something like this.

“We are a small place so we have to recognise our limits because not everybody in Bermuda has the opportunity to study and work abroad.

“The Premier and I had discussed this many times — if it were the case that someone was coming in [from overseas] we would have tried to make it a requirement that something be put in place to have a Bermudian trained to eventually take over.”

Mr Scott also spoke on the need for consistency in the curriculum. “There are a lot of things we could be doing better — in terms of our curriculum, we need to stick to the wicket because constantly changing the curriculum around will guarantee that you are kicking the can down the road,” he said.

“We have Cambridge and have been sticking with it. Look at Bermuda College: the last couple of intakes the children have needed less remedial work which shows you are kind of getting there.

“We have done standard-based grading and provided a lot of professional development.

“We have been providing the tools and we need to have consistency. We need to do two or three things really well and stop trying to do 15 things.”

When appointed education minister two years ago, Mr Scott pledged to remain in place until the next General Election.

Asked why he stood down from his position prematurely, he responded: “My intention was to continue to stay but you have to evaluate things on an ongoing basis.

“I am not disappearing. I still plan on continuing to work in the background for the betterment of Bermuda.

“I'm at a period in my life where I have to look to maintaining my career in IT.

“I have been out for five years and that is an eternity. The main thing is that I still plan on working in the background to move things forward.

“Cole Simons is someone as a person who deeply cares about his country and I believe that he will work hard to ensure that our children continue to get the services they need.”

Ideas: outgoing Minister of Education Wayne Scott. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 03, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated March 03, 2017 at 6:24 am)

‘Take politics out of education’

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