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Further delays to rescoring decision on school closures

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Ministry of Education has apologised for further delays in the announcement of a decision that will determine which primary schools will close.

The History and Legacy Committee was formed by the Government after education stakeholders insisted that the scoring methods it used to determine which of the island’s 18 primaries should close were inadequate.

Stakeholders, including the pressure group West End Warriors, which is fighting to save West End Primary School from closure, argued that the history and legacy of a school should have been included in the original criteria.

This week the group branded the delay “ridiculous” and, along with the Opposition, questioned why more information on the procedure was not made public.

Last July, the ministry pledged to rescore 15 public primary schools, giving “enhanced consideration for legacy, specifically for parishes with more than one school”.

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, originally said that the committee’s work was due to be completed at the end of last November.

He later said there would be an announcement at the end of March.

That deadline was later extended to mid-April.

Now that mid-April has come and gone, the ministry issued the following statement: "The Ministry of Education has concluded the history and legacy component of the parish primary schools decision.

“We are now diligently preparing a report for review. Upon final approval, we will share the decision with our stakeholders and the public.

“We are very much aware of and regret any inconvenience caused by the delays in this process.

“However, we want to reassure everyone that we are very close to completion and an announcement will be made shortly. We deeply value your patience and understanding throughout this important endeavour.”

Ben Smith, the Shadow Minister of Education, spoke in support of West End Warriors and said that a One Bermuda Alliance government would not close the school, which was one of the first in Bermuda to offer an education to Black students.

He said: “The OBA would again like to voice its support for the West End Warriors as they relentlessly fight against the historic primary school being permanently closed by the Ministry of Education.

“The Government is causing prolonged angst by not shedding light on the decision. How can parents’ and students’ minds be settled when their future is uncertain? This is reprehensible. The outcry against the closure has been significant and prolonged, and still that hasn’t been enough for the Ministry of Education to take a decision swiftly.

“An OBA government would not close the school. The community has already shown that this school is the hub of the community. It has a rich legacy and fulfils the requirements of a parish primary school, so it’s mind-boggling that it wasn’t selected from the onset to be one.

“It’s time for the Government make the announcement and stop playing with the West End Warriors’ emotions.”

West End Warriors sent a letter to David Burt this week telling him that mid-April had come yet still no announcement had been made.

Ellen Kate-Horton, veteran educator and former education permanent secretary, said on behalf of the group: “I reached out to the Premier to say, as far as I’m aware, the middle of the month was on Monday.

“It is ridiculous that it is taking this long. This should have been completed by now. The worst part is the secrecy of it all. We still have no idea what the value of the history and legacy component is.”

St David’s Primary School is another school that has opposed the decision to be closed down.

A stakeholder group formed at St George’s Preparatory School also made a case to remain open.

A St George’s Prep spokesman said previously that the primary school reform process was “illogical and deficient”.

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Published April 19, 2024 at 7:55 am (Updated April 30, 2024 at 8:21 am)

Further delays to rescoring decision on school closures

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