Simons: Private sector could boost education
Business leaders could be used to boost the ailing schools system, the Shadow education minister has said.
Cole Simons said that a proposed independent education authority could benefit from the insights of the private sector, backed by education officials.
Mr Simons said: “Right now we have various senior people in education who are educators — world-class educators, some of the them — very confident in education.
But he asked: “Are they providing the leadership that's required to make it work?
“And that's why I think people are considering having an alternative.”
Mr Simons said that a body headed by a leader with a business background would “provide continuity” and that its direction would not change “with the whims of the political agenda of the day”.
He was speaking after Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, called for the creation of an independent education body in the Reply to the Throne Speech last week.
Mr Cannonier said that removing politics from tourism had “brought results”.
The One Bermuda Alliance leader added: “We believe that an Independent Education Authority would do similar great things for our children.”
Mr Simons said that he had spoken with teachers, parents and educators over the past several weeks.
He added: “It is their belief that the only thing stopping the progress of education is the politics of it all.”
Mr Simons said that delivery on the recommendations of a number of “good” education reports completed under different administrations — including the Hopkins report and Plan 2022 — had faltered.
He explained: “A new minister comes in and changes direction — so nothing is brought to completion.
“None of the programmes are as fruitful as recommended.”
The former minister of education said that the OBA government had been “gathering information” on the idea for an independent education body while it was in power.
Mr Simons added: “It was something that we were pursuing. It was on the radar, and research was under way.
“We didn't go into the election saying we're going to do this — it was something that evolved based on the information gathered while we were there.”
He said the idea for the board was a “work in progress”, and said that he would like to see more research done into the feasibility of an independent education authority.
Mr Simons added: “We are speaking with educators, we are speaking with business people, we are speaking to the national training people to see how they feel about it, and how best we can structure a programme that will provide some autonomy and secure the leadership that education needs.”
In addition to forming an Independent Education Authority, Mr Cannonier said that an OBA government would create an independent standards board as “the education equivalent of the Auditor-General”.
He said the board would “provide independent and objective reports on schools and overall student performance”.
Mr Cannonier also pledged to reduce school holidays, extend the school day, incorporate computer coding into the curriculum, and explore same-sex schools for schoolboys.