Log In

Reset Password

OBA criticises education leadership over school delays

Ben Smith, the Shadow Minister of Education

The One Bermuda Alliance has criticised leadership in public education after teachers expressed “grave concerns” over schools facing delays at the start of the academic year.

Ben Smith, the Shadow Minister of Education, said the leadership had already received a “failing grade” from educators, noting comments from the Bermuda Union of Teachers.

“There is no reason for any school on the island not to be ready and fully functioning this year,” Mr Smith said.

“The education minister has been discussing the transition to parish primary schools for a while. He knew what had to be done, so there should be no excuses.

“Students’ summer break has been the same length for decades. Plain and simple, this is another example of a poor leadership.”

Purvis Primary School, one of the first two primary schools to move to the new parish primary school model under education reform plans, was highlighted by the BUT as facing “dire conditions”. Francis Patton is the other new parish primary school.

At the start of this month, the Ministry of Education said construction delays would not stop the two primary schools from reopening with all others on the island.

In a statement, the ministry said “logistical challenges” had prevented the construction of new classrooms at Purvis and Francis Patton from being completed this summer, saying contingency plans had been put in place, although it declined to say what those plans were.

Mr Smith added: “Thankfully there is minimal disruption for students at Francis Patton Primary, but it’s unacceptable for the students and teachers at Purvis Primary School above Year 1 to spend the week ‘experiential learning’.”

Mr Smith described the plan, which has seen students taking part in off-campus activities, as a “Band-Aid fix” and that teachers and students would pay the price.

“To add insult to injury, the Minister of Education, as usual, is reading the room wrongly and glossing over the problem by extending his warm and fuzzy ‘thank you for your hard work’,” he said.

“Based on the BUT’s recent statement, the thank you is falling on deaf ears. The teachers want better and, rightfully so, are demanding it.

“It’s time for the Government to do better. Our children deserve it. When students don’t complete their assignments on time, there are consequences. Who is holding the Ministry of Education accountable?”

The comments come after the BUT expressed “grave concerns” over public schools facing delays and called for a “thorough and immediate assessment of leadership in the public education system”.

A letter from Dante Cooper, the BUT general secretary, said that as recently as September 7 some classrooms were still undergoing renovation works and were unsafe, and teacher contracts have been delayed.

It added that there have been last-minute curriculum and assessment delays, and that there are facilities issues including non-functioning bathrooms and “filthy” classrooms.

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said the ministry was proud of the work undertaken but that it was important to note that the reform of the primary schools had been “a mammoth task”.

He said Department of Education back-to-school protocols would be assessed with changes supported by the ministry and added that at no time has heavy construction prevented students from being in the classroom.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published September 13, 2023 at 9:20 am (Updated September 13, 2023 at 9:20 am)

OBA criticises education leadership over school delays

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon