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Teachers’ union head gives Budget a passing grade as education is spared from cuts

Education has been spared budget cuts, with $145 million set aside for the year ahead.

Bermuda Union of Teachers head Mike Charles gave this year’s Budget a passing grade.

“We need all we can get,” Mr Charles told

The Royal Gazette.The figures allocated in the latest Budget differ from previous years: the Island’s libraries and archives now fall under the purview of Education Minister Nalton Brangman.

With the spending tallied to include the roughly $3.7 million for those facilities this year, and $3.9 million in last year’s Budget, Education is up $7.4 million, from the $138 million awarded in the 2012/13 Budget.

The actual figure spent by the Ministry over the last year was given as $150.6 million.

Describing teachers as “overburdened”, the BUT head added: “The fact that we don’t have any substitutes in our schools means that teachers are being asked to cover classes on a daily basis.”

The year ahead appears to show allocated spending for teacher substitutes rising considerably: $378,000 was the original figure on the 2012/13 Budget — up to $1.3 million. However, the funding still falls well short of the actual spending on substitutes in the year just ended: $1.48 million.

Mr Charles said lack of substitutes continued to put great strain on the Island’s teachers during the ‘flu season, when surges in sick days spelled misery for those well enough to work.

He also called for more money to be allocated to teacher training and professional development.

“We haven’t seen any money going to these types of programmes for a while.”

At the ministerial level, last year’s modest $20,000 grant for training is cut by 75 percent to $5,000.

However, at the Department level, last year’s $3.9 million set aside for training jumps to $5.14 million.

Teacher Training Awards by the Ministry got slashed by a whopping 90 percent, from $350,000 down to $35,000.

Asked to make sense of the different spending streams, Mr Charles cautioned: “We’ll need clarification from the Ministry as to exactly what these figures mean. But in terms of professional development, the Ministry has done very little of that in recent years.”

Shortly after taking office, Senator Brangman gave a guarded pledge that Education would not be cut — and Mr Charles was heartened to see funding preserved.

“The thing we all know as educators is, you can’t skimp on it,” he said. “If you do, you reap the benefits at the other end.”

Colours of education: Bermuda school ties (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published February 23, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated February 23, 2013 at 12:18 am)

Teachers’ union head gives Budget a passing grade as education is spared from cuts

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