House: Rabain pours scorn on OBA ideas
An Opposition proposal to set up a Cabinet sub-committee to pave the way for an education authority is irrelevant, the education minister has claimed.
Diallo Rabain added that another suggestion for the introduction of an assistant director for maths was made even though pupils already benefited from a specialist in the subject.
Mr Rabain said: “The idea that a Cabinet sub-committee needs to be formed to lead education is laughable if the suggestion wasn't so sad.
“As we are moving to a system that removes political interference in education and introduces educators and persons of that calibre to lead education, I'm literally shocked that we would still have this suggestion.
“But if you go back to their election manifesto of 2017 they said the same thing.”
He was speaking in the House of Assembly last Friday after Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Shadow Minister of Finance, delivered her Reply to the Budget for the new financial year.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said that the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance recommended the establishment of a Cabinet sub-committee to include the Premier and several ministers to “provide immediate active oversight and support” to make sure that Bermuda's educational needs were delivered.
She added: “One of the committee's immediate priorities would be to lay the foundation for the exploration and development of an educational authority, which will remove the politics from education and provide consistent professional and accountable leadership to our public education system.”
But Mr Rabain told MPs: “We have a suggestion here in the book, ‘we also offer a recommendation that the ministry have a dedicated assistant director of math education and a qualified supporting team to drive the delivery in conjunction with the Bermuda Council of Teachers of Mathematics'.
“Guess what? When the One Bermuda Alliance came in, and when someone retired, they froze the post.
“There's an important post within the Department of Education called the educational officer for math, that was frozen for five years under that government.
“All of a sudden now they have the solution, let's bring one of them in.”
He added: “We already have a math consultant here that is improving our grades.
“We have one that ... was originally brought here by the Bermuda Council of Teachers of Mathematics two years ago and he is now on island and he is working with our teachers and our maths grades will show improvement and they're already showing improvement.”
Mr Rabain said the move was made after requests from teachers.
He told the House: “When I see and read suggestions of more committees to study education this just makes me sigh.
“It makes me sigh because this Government is moving ahead with much needed school reform.”
The minister said he was pleased that the OBA backed Plan 2022, the multiyear blueprint for the public school system.
He added: “I will hold them to that statement because I have repeated in this House on several occasions we need to work together to ensure that education gets to where education needs to be because a sound education system supports Bermuda and benefits Bermuda as a whole.”
Mr Rabain said: “We are assembling educational development teams that include non-government persons to move education forward.
“We don't need any more empty political promises that lead to no improvement. We've seen that already ... we're going to do things much differently.
“When they want to extend their hand to say they will assist with education I take them for their word and I welcome them in because we are going to change education in Bermuda.
“We will phase out middle schools, we will return to a two-tier system and we will return the Bermuda public education system to the glory that it showed when I was in school, when all of us were in school and we produced quality graduates.”