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Chairwoman of committee to document school histories announced

West End Primary School, one of the island’s historic schools, is expected to close as part of an education shake-up (File photograph)

A former director of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs will head a new committee set up to preserve the histories of school scheduled for closure, the education minister has announced.

Diallo Rabain said Heather Whalen would spearhead the move to preserve the legacy of schools, organised after the closure of primary schools around the island was announced as part of major changes to the education system.

But he said the records would also include institutions of the past such as the Bermuda Technical Institute, Howard Academy, Warwick Secondary School, Prospect School for Girls, and the Robert Crawford School.

Ms Whalen, who will lead the “History and Legacy Committee”, has been working with a ministry team to set up the committee.

This has included the creation of “a small, short-term working group” to establish its terms of reference.

The working group will be joined by Alberta Dyer-Tucker, who has been Assistant Cabinet Secretary and senior education officer for early education.

Mr Rabain told MPs last Friday: “The working group's membership consists of a breadth of academic, technical and practical knowledge and experience that is needed to plan and prepare for the work of the History and Legacy Committee.”

The working group is expected to present its terms of reference by the end of next March.

Mr Rabain added that “some or all” members of the group would move onto the History and Legacy Committee.

He said it would have responsibility for “documenting Bermuda's educational history and making recommendations on the best ways to preserve, honour and commemorate the history and legacy of education in Bermuda”.

Susan Jackson, the shadow education minister, said the One Bermuda Alliance welcomed the move.

She asked Mr Rabain what outcome he envisaged for the working group.

The minister said the histories would enable the public, including students, to do their own research on school buildings.

Ms Jackson also asked about pay for the working group.

Mr Rabain said funds had been found in the existing budget, although the amount would not be “representative of the expertise they are bringing” and some of the work would likely be on a volunteer basis.

Members of the working group are Adrian Lodge, an IT expert, Taneesha Ottley, a Ministry of Education policy analyst, Theodore Francis, an assistant professor of history at Huston-Tillotson University, Texas, a historically Black college, Randy Scott, a retired Parliamentary Registrar; Quito Swan, a professor of African American and African diaspora studies at Indiana University Bloomington and Rhonda Woods-Smith, the senior manager of the tourism regulation and policy unit.

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Published December 13, 2021 at 7:32 am (Updated December 13, 2021 at 7:32 am)

Chairwoman of committee to document school histories announced

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