Rabain: No decision yet on primary school closures
The Government has still to decide which primary schools to close as part of its education shake up, the Minister of Education has said.
Diallo Rabain was participating in a Zoom meeting on Monday about government’s plans for primary schools along with Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, and Tania Stafford, a retired educator with experience in school building planning.
Mr Rabain was answering a question from a member of the public about why Harrington Sound Primary School was not slated for closure given the difficulty in dropping off and picking up pupils - among other considerations.
Speaking on the government’s proposals to close eight primary schools leaving one school per parish with the exception of Pembroke which would have two, Mr Rabain said: “Decisions have not been made – these were suggestions. We are committed to the criteria and taking the best possible school sites within each parish to develop. With Harrington Sound, they are the only school in Smith’s Parish so that is the school we will take and develop.”
Ms Stafford said that she was excited to hear that education reform plans included the redesign of classrooms to accommodate 21st century learning and the use of outdoor space for learning. Above all she was encouraged by the focus on schools becoming central to their communities.
“Let’s bring schools back to the hub of the community. That is what I am excited about.”
Ms Stafford said that school’s must be developed in a way that will protect them from mould – a long-standing issue affecting buildings.
“It is an opportunity to bring in modern lighting and ventilation systems – our schools weren’t built to be air-conditioned and that is why they have mould. We need to start at the beginning and get it right.”
Ms Stafford added: "We are right-sizing the system. You will have children in spaces that are the right size for them, you need to build a purpose built space. I have been in a lot of them and so many have long corridors – they are not safe spaces for young children they should easily be able to be supervised.
“We are right-sizing the system – you will have children in spaces that are the rightsize for them, you need to build a purpose built space.”
Mr Rabain was asked if he would consider seeking development funding from the UK as has been the case in other jurisdictions.
Mr Rabain said: “That has not come up but is something we can look at going forward.”
He said that having dedicated school transportation was an important part of the plan. He said it ensures convenient means for students to get to and from school and also enable children get to locations around the island for educational experiences.
Ms Richards added: “I have talked about Bermuda being the outdoor classroom – we want our children to be able to go outside of the learning spaces to various parts of the island.”