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‘Bermudians must lead education reform’

For Bermuda: Muriel Wade-Smith says that the public school’s redesign must be led by Bermudians, and criticised the Government for inviting overseas organisations for ideas (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The redesign of Bermuda’s public school system must be led by Bermudians, a veteran teacher said yesterday.

Muriel Wade-Smith added that the Government should not have invited overseas organisations to take part in a request for proposals process on changes to the education system.

She said: “There are enough Bermudians here.

“They’re competent, they’re capable, they’re qualified — they’ve had experience, exposure, expertise. And they have lived it.”

Dr Wade-Smith was speaking after the Government announced last month that it had issued a request for proposal for a restructure of public schools.

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said that local and overseas organisations had been invited to submit bids.

He said the RFP would “provide us with the benefit of using an effective, exciting, structured school redesign process that can be tailored to the needs of the Bermuda public school system”. Mr Rabain said that the redesign “means not only restructuring our school system with the phasing out of middle schools, but also redesigning existing schools and designing new signature schools”.

He added: “It is about the structure of our system, the quality of our facilities, and what we envision education will look like for our children.”

Mr Rabain said the focus would at first be on middle schools and senior schools.

But he added: “A holistic approach will mean that ultimately the entire education system will be redesigned.”

Dr Wade-Smith said that overseas experts could play a part in the overhaul.

But she added: “They’re not to be in charge. We have to do our own thing for our own selves.

“We need a curriculum written by us, for us, about us.”

She said that an Afrocentric curriculum must be included.

Dr Wade-Smith added: “Children of African descent need a relevant identity curriculum, with cultural integrity, enthused with the African content and the Bermuda content.

“We’re really talking about world history and Africa is the cradle of civilisation.

“A lot of that is left out — our children don’t know about that. And so they need to be taught that as well.

“We need to be teaching our children and our parents how to be warriors, healers and builders.”

She said that the public school system must be “fair, and just, and equitable”.

Dr Wade-Smith added: “We need these children to be involved in nation building. Education has to be for nation building — one school at a time.”

The deadline for submissions for the RFP is October 4.

Dr Wade-Smith was a co-founder of the Bermuda Christian Deliverance Academy in 1994 and later opened other schools in the Caribbean.

She apprenticed at the Berkeley Institute in 1960 and later went on to work at a primary school.

Dr Wade-Smith received her first degree, a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Miami University, in 1971.

She completed a Master of Education three years later and later completed a PhD in elementary school administration and early childhood education.

It was announced last week that her dissertation A Survey to Identify and Prioritise Goals for the Bermudian Education System would be made available to the public in digital form at the Bermuda National Library, Queen Street, Hamilton.