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Lister lets rip over school year legislation

Independent MP Terry Lister showed his ire at Government's shortening of the school year by tearing up the legislation in the House of Assembly.

The cuts, which took five days off the 200 teaching days in the current school year, were made as part of a broad two-year deal with trade unions requiring public officers to take unpaid days off.

But the wording of the Education Amendment Rules 2013 caused Mr Lister to exclaim “What is this rubbish?” before ripping the bill up.

The offending phrase said the school years starting this month and in September 2014 would be “not less than 188 teaching days”.

Government Minister Grant Gibbons protested that the wording meant “up to 188 days — this gives the Ministry leeway. They haven't sorted out where they are for next year; that's under discussion.”

Mr Lister responded: “What I think I just heard is that, next year, it could be 12 days.”

The Sandys South MP added: “Our children are going to be short changed.”

The overall agreement between Government and the Trade Union Congress meant public sector workers would take an unpaid day each month.

Teachers work ten months out of the year but are paid over 12 — and since the academic year commences halfway through the fiscal year, five days were taken off the present school year.

Speaking during the Motion to Adjourn, Mr Lister also branded the appointment of US educator Edmond Heatley as Commission of Education “a foolish, foolish move”.

Since Bermuda follows a British educational model, he questioned how Dr Heatley could be expected to understand it.

“He probably knows as much about the GCSEs as the children who started this year,” Mr Lister added.

He then attacked the new Bermuda Government Scholarship Regulations, which imposed a $35,000 cap on the grants — but also resulted in four new scholarships awarded last month.

“It was always eight scholarships a year — it's been that way forever,” Mr Lister said.

Although he had backed the legislation when it came through the House in June, Mr Lister called the reduction in the scholarships' number “amoral and improper”.

“We took away four scholarships worth $140,000 because we're on an austerity drive.

“This is the time to increase the number of scholarships and people we help.”

Independent MP Terry Lister

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Published September 16, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 15, 2013 at 11:59 pm)

Lister lets rip over school year legislation

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