OBA pledges to set up education authority
The One Bermuda Alliance pledged this afternoon it would take politics out of education if elected with the creation of an independent education authority.
Cole Simons, the Shadow Minister of Education, said the initiative was one of several that the OBA would introduce within two years if they are elected into power on October 1.
Mr Simons said: “A good education provides the solid base which allows our youth to succeed and prosper — to grow into fine members of the community and be our future leaders.
“The OBA strongly believes that the best way to achieve this is to take the politics out of education.
“We will establish an independent education authority, with professionals managing our education system, providing objective assessments of schools and student performance to ensure that education is the cornerstone for life.”
He added: “We have seen how successful the Bermuda Tourism Authority has been since the politics was taken out.
“The OBA believes an education authority can have the same positive impact.”
Mr Simons also said the OBA would introduce foundational counsellors to schools to help students, expand the childhood development programme and create a national fitness programme to the island's schools.
He added the party also intends to introduce measures to support teachers through the establishment of a continuing professional development centre.
Mr Simons said: “Teachers continue to use their own money to buy essential supplies. That is unacceptable.
“The OBA will therefore ensure a per term budget for teachers to provide supplies and equipment for children in their classrooms.
“We will also continue to support Plan 2022, which is the culmination of a public consultation process which began under the previous OBA Government.”
Mr Simons also announced that the OBA would “better align the school day with working hours” to support parents and give students time to benefit from after-school sports, arts and educational activities.
Mr Simons said the initiatives could be introduced within two years of the election, noting that the creation of the Bermuda Tourism Authority took about 18 months.
Nicky Gurret, OBA candidate for Sandys South Central, said the Government would introduce an integrated technical and arts curriculum with a focus on STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
She added that an extended school day would allow a greater emphasis on arts education.
Ms Gurret said: “I have seen first-hand how beneficial the arts are to young people.
“It creates lasting friendships, it gives young people confidence, it draws them out of themselves and gives them the freedom to play. It makes young people act as a team.
“These are all attributes that will help them when they leave school and enter a competitive jobs market.”
Dwayne Robinson, OBA senator and candidate for Warwick West, said education had been a priority for many voters on the doorstep.
Mr Robinson said: “It is crucial to get it right otherwise we are letting down generations of young people.”
He said the OBA would work to streamline the transition between school and work by aligning education with job opportunities.
Mr Robinson said: “An OBA Government would continue to develop business-led jobs guarantee schemes to ensure Bermudians are trained for jobs that actually exist and jobs in developing industries.”
He added the OBA would create economic development scholarships and art education scholarships to provide greater assistance to students.