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Work set to start on finalising cost of primary schools shake-up – minister

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Diallo Rabain, Education Minister, (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Education minister, Diallo Rabain, has denied that Government foot-dragging over deciding when eight primary schools will shut in a major shake-up has left parents in limbo.

Ministers first announced the radical reforms in December 2020, but work on deciding a firm date for when primaries will be closed will only begin in the next few weeks.

Parents deciding on where to send their children in the autumn term are still in the dark about when the axe will fall.

Mr Rabain also seemed unable to say how much the project would cost and where the funding would be from.

Asked at a Budget press conference today if foot dragging had left families in limbo, the Education Minister said: “I would disagree with that.”

Despite there being no clarity on when schools would be hit, Mr Rabain added: “These decisions were made very publicly on several occasions.”

Pressed on how the plans would be funded, he said: “We are beginning in the next few weeks to do the inspections of schools and that is not only to develop a plan on how we plan to move forward in the next three to five years, but also to develop a funding policy.

“The work that’s being done this year is to look at what the funding costs will be and how it will be funded.”

When it was suggested that some parents might take it from his comments that the Government does not know where the money is intended to come from for the refurbishment of the ten parish primaries that will remain, the Education Minister said: “That wouldn’t be a fair summary.”

He added: “We will begin to conduct surveys of our existing school buildings in the next few weeks. These inspections are necessary to develop a phased and costed road map for our education reform agenda's building and construction programme component.


“This road map is necessary to pave the path for the opening of some parish primary schools and additional signature schools scheduled for September 2023 and to have a line of sight to the phased approach to opening transformed public schools in the years that follow.”

A survey last September found that more than half of those questions disagreed with the plan to push forward with ten parish primaries.

Mr Rabain also left open the door to scrapping GCSE’s, stating that in a current curriculum review: “Nothing is off the table.”

Despite an increase in the Education Department’s funding of $7.2 million to $135.25 million, Mr Rabain announced funding cuts to grants for the Bermuda College and the CedarBridge Academy.

The move will see the Bermuda College grant slashed by $728,000. No figure was provided for CedarBridge.

The Government has cut its grant to Bermuda College by $728,000

Mr Rabain said: “The idea is for the Bermuda College to become more self sustaining.”

He added: “Despite this overall increase, we have taken seriously the need to review budgets across the board and can report that efficiencies resulting in budget reductions have been found in the Bermuda College annual grant, Cedarbridge’s Academy Grant, the Department of Education, the Department of Libraries and Archives grant allocations to private agencies, and operational expenses, including travel, communications, and professional services.“

Most of the Budget boost will go on salaries.

The Education Minister stated: “The bulk of this increase, some $4.4 million, is a result of the expiry of the 10 per cent austerity measures agreed to by our union partners – $3.1 million, and the salary uplifts agreed to when all Bermuda Union of Teacher posts were regraded in 2019 – $1.3 Million.

“The balance, just over $2.8 million, consists of funds required to continue Bermuda’s Education Reform – $2.6 million – and minor related operational costs – $240,000.”

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Published March 11, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated March 11, 2022 at 7:57 am)

Work set to start on finalising cost of primary schools shake-up – minister

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