PLP pledges no politics in education
A Progressive Labour Party government will ensure the end to political interference in the education system, the shadow of the portfolio says.
Diallo Rabain said the PLP would ensure the education minister has an “arm's-length oversight” of the system.
“It is time for us to ensure that educators and administrators that have been recruited are able to do the job that they are supposed to do free from political influence,” the PLP MP said during a press conference this afternoon.
“For far too long, successive governments have allowed political interference to affect the performance of those we have trusted to ensure our education system does what it is supposed to do — produce quality graduates.”
Specifics on what the new structure could look like were not provided.
“That is the direction we plan to move into,” Mr Rabain said when asked for more details.
Educators must also be equipped with “adequate resources”, including Wi-Fi and updated technology, he said.
Mr Rabain also reiterated promises made in the response to the Throne Speech in 2014 to remove social promotion, the consolidation of preschools and primary schools, and the phasing out of the middle-school system to return to a two-stream model.
Fellow MP Rolfe Commissiong said teachers had been exemplary during a time of “wilful neglect”.
“For the last five years, our teachers have worked without raises as the cost of living in Bermuda increases, and they have worked without a new collective bargaining agreement,” he said.
Teachers, Mr Commissiong said, have been asked to do their jobs “with both hands essentially tied behind their backs”.
Further to a statement released yesterday, he said teacher protests were justified.
“By not caring for our teachers, the One Bermuda Alliance Government is not caring for our students,” Mr Commissiong said.
Asked if he would commit to teacher pay raises, the MP stopped short of promising.
“My view is that it's long overdue,” he said.
“We'll have to deal with those issues as they come before us.”
He contrasted subsidies for the America's Cup and the airport redevelopment with the lack of needed resources for the public school system.
“It just can't be considered right by anybody out there,” he said.
“I think Bermudians know where our hearts are at.”
Senator Tinee Furbert said the Government had broken promises made without excuses or apologies, including the implementation of technical education, the expansion of preschool spaces, and the extension of the school day, among others.
“Education has not gone forward under the OBA — it's gone nowhere,” she said.
The party will be organising a town hall event to discuss education at Elliot Primary School on Wednesday night at 7pm.
The free event, open to all, will be moderated by Constituency 10 candidate Ernest Peets.