Loans for trainee teachers announced by Minister
Study loans of about $15,000 to trainee teachers to tackle staff shortages in public schools are to be set up, the education minister announced today.
Diallo Rabain said the teacher’s certification bonded loan scheme would help ease the cost burden of teacher training for Bermudians.
Mr Rabain said: “The purpose of this loan is to provide financial support to Bermudian residents who are enrolled in an approved distance-learning teacher certification programme.”
He added: “Considered applicants must be currently enrolled in an approved distance-learning teacher certification programme and must be currently working in the public school system under exemption status as recommended by the BEC exemption committee and who are on track to successfully complete their teaching certification programme.”
Mr Rabain said: “The 12-week teaching practicum is considered a period of study, not employment, that parallels that of an overseas student who undertakes a teaching practicum programme.
“Therefore, during this period, exempted status persons are not remunerated.
“This has become financially challenging for persons enrolled in the teaching certification programme.
“The Board of Education was tasked to create new pathways to help enhance the recruitment and development of new teachers."
The programme is open to Bermudians only and was designed to increase their numbers in the teaching profession.
Mr Rabain said there were shortages of qualified teachers of music, drama, physical education, maths, English and foreign languages.
A Bermuda Educators Council exemption committee allows some people to teach these subjects despite not holding the required qualifications.
Mr Rabain said there were 12 exempted teachers in Bermuda.
He added: “While exemptions are provided to persons to teach in the education system, it is vital that we have fully-qualified educators”.
Laurel Burns, a member of the Board of Education when the policy was drawn up and a representative of the Bermuda teacher induction programme, said: “I can confidently and happily say that the loan opens the door for many of my colleagues to cross the proverbial finish line and become fully qualified.
“The committee was determined to recommend a fair and viable bonded loan agreement.
“It was essential to ensure that teachers in training could focus on their practicum experience and achieve success.”
There are two certification programmes teachers in Bermuda often take to get teaching certification through distance learning.
Bermuda College, in a joint effort with the University of the West Indies, has a programme for maths, English language, information technology, science, modern languages, history and social studies/geography.
The UK’s Sunderland University also offers programmes in several specialisations.
The loans are valued at up to $4,800 per month for three months and are available only during the 12-week practicum teaching period.
Applicants also have the option to apply for a prefixed loan and will be responsible for the repayment.
The scheme is open to Bermudians who are resident, aged over 25 and already enrolled in an accredited long-distance teaching certification programme.
They must also be looking to qualify in subjects where there is a shortage of qualified staff.
The loan programme will start in September and guidelines for applications are available at forms.gov.bm.