Teachers in pre-Budget plea for more resources
Teachers are buying basic school necessities out of their own pockets, according to the Bermuda Union of Teachers.
Union president Shannon James called for more help in the Progressive Labour Party's first Budget since it returned to power, which will be delivered by David Burt, the Premier and finance minister, tomorrow.
Mr James said: “There are many teachers using their own money to buy things like reading books, science supplies, and many other basics, from the preschool level right through to high school. This, by any standard, cannot be deemed acceptable and has gone on for too long.
“Many teachers will come out of pocket to add extras, and that is their choice, but they should not be cornered to feel that the basic supplies needed to deliver the curriculum should come out of pocket.”
Mr James said the BUT was also gravely concerned about the lack of investment in providing the manpower needed to deliver, maintain and support proper instruction as dictated by the needs of the system.
“There are too many empty positions, key positions which are needed to support the various initiatives set out by the Ministry and the Department. We do not have the required complement of education officers, content specialists, attendance officers, mentors and paraeducators needed to support optimal learning at all levels.
“We are still concerned about the state of our buildings. Three schools had to close last year for urgent maintenance and that causes major disruption for the students. That cannot be allowed to happen again, and adequate resources must be directed to the timely maintenance of our schools.”
In addition, the BUT believes that Government must position students to compete globally and that access to modern technology and systems of thinking are imperative to the success of a 21st-century learner.
Mr James said: “The Premier and finance minister, David Burt, is a self-confessed ‘techie' who has been pushing the use of technologies like blockchain and the establishment of a tech hub in Bermuda, but what use are these if our students don't have access to the necessary technology tools that will enable them to take advantages of future opportunities?”
He said money must be made available to ensure: an adequate ratio of students to working technology devices; a termly assessment and repair of all interactive devices; a sufficient number of trained technology leaders in each school, and an adequate number of technicians to service the upkeep of equipment and software.
Mr James added: “We have been promised wi-fi access in every public school which is a start, but it is pointless if we do not have the proper hardware to access this wi-fi. More needs to be done to make sure that our students are not disadvantaged when they enter the workforce and find themselves behind their peers in terms of their exposure to technology.
“Technology has the potential to completely disrupt industries. This will have a massive impact on the types and numbers of jobs available and we must have the resources available to make sure our students are properly equipped with the necessary tools that allow them to succeed.
“The BUT is fully aware that everyone wants a larger share of the pie and people are competing for money for different projects they all believe will benefit Bermuda in some way, but there is no greater benefit to Bermuda than well-educated children. Education is the building block for any successful country.”