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We can’t take this lying down

Dear Sir,

It was very disconcerting to read the headline in today’s paper — “Nine primary schools face axe” (December 21, 2020). I would urge all parents and potential parents to make their voices heard and take action against the insanity being pushed by the Government.

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, plans to consolidate primary schools to one per parish (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Unfortunately, it is not just this present government but also the One Bermuda Alliance and the United Bermuda Party who are responsible for the dire state of education in Bermuda.

The Technical College, which created a lot of Bermuda’s tradesmen, was closed many years ago resulting in many young people losing out of an opportunity to further their education. Not everyone wants to be a lawyer, accountant or obtain some degree that requires going to college for a number of years.

Maybe, the Government needs to listen to some real experts who have proved their ability to educate young people. They do not have to go overseas, just gather a small group of people from Somersfield Academy, Bermuda Institute, Bermuda High School, Saltus Grammar and Warwick Academy. Not only are these successful schools, but they know how to keep their schools clean and mould-free, unlike TN Tatem school in Warwick.

To be talking about building yet another school when we have so much debt shows total fiscal irresponsibility. If nine schools are to be closed, what will happen to those buildings? It is apparent many government buildings are left to deteriorate for many years, only to be abandoned and eventually destroyed.

This happened to HMS Malabar, and when renovated, it cost more than a million dollars. The Parsonage on Ireland Island, was renovated at Ed Harris’s expense — to the best of my knowledge — and his lease was not renewed. The last time I passed by, it had fallen into disrepair. Both of these places are part of Bermuda’s heritage. Should Bermuda have a surplus, which is not going to happen in the next 100 years, maybe one would not be bothered by such an experiment, but it would still require a great deal of consideration when one is dealing with the outcomes for our young people.

I happened to be the president of the Sandys Grammar PTA during the late 1960s through early 1970s when there was an amalgamation of that school with Boaz Island school, becoming Somerset Primary. At that time, more room was required to accommodate the increase in the number of students and the Government wanted to build two or three classrooms at the back of the existing school.

There was land to the north of the playing field, of which the government of the day was unaware. We also wanted some upgrading of the existing school, which did not appear to be acceptable to the Government. The PTA meetings were very well attended and I was instructed to get plans drawn up for renovations and the building of the junior school.

At a cost of about $1,000, plans — which were paid for from PTA funds — were presented to the Minister of Education. Meetings were held with the minister, the Chief Education Officer, the Permanent Secretary of Education and the spokesman for education in the House when we presented our case. While we did not get everything requested, we certainly got a lot more than what was originally planned by the Government.

We ended up with a school we could be proud of and a facility that made the education of our children more amenable, both for the teachers and the pupils.

Come on parents, make your voices heard. A lot of the nine schools suggested for the axe have histories that need to be preserved. This will lead to larger schools, which are not necessarily conducive to better education. In my opinion, the idea is ill-conceived and should be rejected.

Unless action is taken, you will be paying for this experiment for many years.



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Published December 23, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 22, 2020 at 2:51 pm)

We can’t take this lying down

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