Log In

Reset Password

Simons defends government education funding

Education minister Cole Simons (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Cole Simons defended the OBA Government’s record on funding education, citing multiple investments included in the 2017-18 Budget.

The Minister of Education accused the Progressive Labour Party of “providing misinformation” by claiming that the OBA is not committed to the development and education of young Bermudians.

Simons said: “The truth is that the Bermuda Government has made, and continues to make, great investments for the benefit of our teachers and students.

“Do we have it right 100 per cent of the time? No, but the investments we have made represent the optimal commitment given the fiscal pressures we face, particularly with the massive debt burden we carry, now costing more than $180 million a year in debt interest payments.”

Mr Simons referred to the 2017-18 Budget estimates, which included increases in salaries and wages for substitute teachers and paraprofessionals, school maintenance and investments in several school properties, and listed the following achievements:

• $2.318 million in salaries and wages increased by 3 per cent and 6 per cent respectively due to substitute teachers and paraprofessionals;

• $850,000 capital grant for campuswide capital projects, including building upgrades; health, safety and security enhancements, technology improvements at Bermuda College;

• 50 per cent increase in Bermuda College financial aid budget;

• $3.283 million for the Department of Public Works for school maintenance;

• $1.078 million capital grant for works at CedarBridge Academy;

• $500,000 capital grant for school bathroom renovations;

• $1.128 million capital acquisition for computers, IT and furniture;

• $1.737 million for teacher training, scholarships, mature student awards and grants to external bodies;

• $35.6 million investment in preschools, primary schools and the Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy;

• $16.95 million investment into middle schools, including Sandys, TN Tatem, Dellwood, Whitney and Clearwater;

• $24.367 million in senior schools;

• $2.639 million on curriculum and assessment;

• $1.84 million in early childhood education;

• $15.481 million Bermuda College Grant.

Mr Simons said: “As Minister of Education, I can confirm that the education of our children is fundamental to producing educated, productive and positive citizens.

“Education is fundamental

to the future of the Island,

setting the direction we want to go.

“The education system, therefore, must be one that ensures students are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a rapidly changing society.

“Their progress in learning is strengthened when parents, teachers, principals, support staff and the broader community have a clear understanding of what must be done and what is being done to achieve Bermuda’s chosen future.

“Our investments this year support the Ministry of

Education’s mission to provide strategic leadership, supervision and policy direction that supports effective teaching in an inclusive and progressive learning environment that improves learning and achievement for

every child.”

The Royal Gazette will be checking assertions throughout the 2017 General Election campaign.


June 20: Bermuda Trade Union Congress said that Bermuda for a number of years had been experiencing a “declining Bermudian workforce, high levels of youth unemployment, wages below the low-income threshold [and] deteriorating quality of life due to stagnant wage growth … ”


The Bermudian workforce has declined, according to the most recent data available from the Department of Statistics.

The June 2016 Employment Briefs showed that the number of jobs filled by Bermudians fell from 26,187 in 2011 to 23,576 in 2015. That amounts to 2,611 fewer jobs held by Bermudians — a decline of almost 10 per cent.

The youth unemployment rate is far higher than the

overall unemployment rate, which was at 7 per cent in 2015.

The youth unemployment rate improved between 2012 and 2015, according to the preliminary Labour Force Survey of 2015.

In 2012, it was at 36 per cent, compared with 23 per cent in 2015. Back in 2010, under the Progressive Labour Party, it was at 16 per cent.

A 2008 report from the Department of Statistics gave the low-income threshold as $41,132 per annum.

The 2016 Employment

Briefs showed that the largest group of employees on the

island were also the lowest paid: service workers and shop and market sales workers. There were 6,699 of them in 2015 (out of a workforce of 33,319) and they had a median income of $38,138.

The median incomes of those in the other nine major occupation groups (i.e. the remaining workforce of 26,620) were all above the 2008 low-income threshold


The Employment Briefs showed that the median gross annual income decreased between 2014 and 2015 by 0.4 per cent.


June 27: Progressive Labour Party leader David Burt claimed the OBA had expanded the divide between the “two Bermudas”.

He said: “We are here because we are a team that will build a bridge of opportunity between the two Bermudas and close the gap between the haves and the have-nots, building a more fair economy by reducing the cost of living that is crushing so many families.”


Changes in the levels of inequality are hard to

measure, given the lack of official statistics on personal wealth.

However, in terms of employment income, data from government surveys confirm that the gap between the highest and lowest-paid workers has indeed widened since 2009.

Senior officials and managers, the best-paid category in the Employment Briefs survey, had a median annual income of $103,940 in 2015, the latest year for which statistics were available.

This was up by just over 16 per cent from the $89,404 they earned in 2009. Service and shop workers, the lowest-paid group, earned $38,138 in 2015, up nearly 5 per cent from

the $36,352 they earned in 2009.

Inflation rose by about 14 per cent during the same period, meaning that the higher-paid group kept pace

with increases in the cost of living, while the lowest paid did not.

This gap widened under both PLP and OBA administrations.