We must take politics out of education
I feel safe in stating that public school education is high on the list of concerns of the majority of Bermudians. I also feel safe in stating that there is broad agreement that the business of educating the children of Bermuda must be looked at in a holistic way. The Government, mainly through the Ministry of Education, school principals, teachers, students, parents, businesses and the wider community must be included in the mix.
On the heels of the appointment of a new Minister of Education — No 12 since 1998 and the fourth since the election of the present Government — we need to be asking ourselves some serious questions. The much talked about and delayed appointment of a Commissioner of Education should have us reaching to ring the alarm bells. The state of education and the physical plants should have us almost ringing our hands in despair.
The forgoing statements are not to give the impression that nothing good is happening in education. We are certain that there are individuals in the ministry, school principals and teachers who are giving their best efforts in spite of the conditions and uncertainty that exist.
The big question is, “Where do we go from here?” A wise saying is that we cannot do the same thing in the same way and hope for a different result. I wholly concur. So, what do we do?
I cannot take credit for most of the following ideas, but I certainly agree with a different approach:
1, As much as practical, remove politics from education
2, Disband the Ministry of Education in its present form and replace it with three school boards: East, Central and West. These boards should have a broad base of former educators, business leaders and a parents component, and could be elected or appointed. My preference is election, thus ensuring that the members are responsible to those who put them in place
3, The role and function of the education minister would be similar to that of the tourism minister now that we have a tourism authority.
This letter is not intended to provide the answer to all of our concerns. However, I hope that it provides food for thought. The future of our children and Bermuda, as a whole, are at stake.
CHARLES H. JEFFERS