The new Progressive Labour Party administration will develop a strategic plan to “phase out Middle Schools and return to a two-tier system”, after public feedback by next September.
That was one of several education initiatives announced by the Governor in the 2017 Speech From The Throne on Friday “to transform the quality of education” in Bermuda.
Led by the new Minister Diallo Rabain, the Department of Education will host three town hall meetings and use public feedback to have the two-tier system back in place in September 2018.
According to Governor John Rankin, it’s all part of plans to grow Bermuda’s economy and improving “outcomes in our public education system” to “equip the next generation of Bermudians to fill the jobs of the future”.
“During the election campaign, the Government made clear its intention to phase out middle schools and return to a two-tier system” said Governor Rankin.
“The Government has embarked upon a new strategic planning effort to transform the quality of education. This approach will create a vision for education that is developed by Bermudians, for Bermudians.
“As the consultation process reaches its final stages, to ensure that all stakeholders have an opportunity to provide feedback, the Department of Education will host three town hall meetings in September. The Department of Education will use this feedback to finalise and move into the implementation design phase of the strategic plan. The new plan will be completed and in place by September 2018.”
A Ministry spokesperson said: “Over the past several months, the Department of Education has embarked on a new creating strategic plan for public schools, it included public consultation and assistance with writing the new plan. The meetings to be held next week will be hosted by the Commissioner of Education and will give the public an opportunity to provide feedback on the strategic plan.
“The plan for phasing out the middle schools was a long-term objective and not expected to be implemented by September 2018, however, the new strategic plan will be in place by September 2018.”
Other education initiatives include the installation of Wi-Fi throughout the public school system.
“In 2017, it is unfortunate that most Bermuda public schools do not have wireless Internet. In the last seven weeks, this Government has moved aggressively to fulfill its 100-day pledge to commence installation of Wi-Fi in public schools,” said the Governor.
“When students of East End Primary School and Purvis Primary arrive at school next week, wireless Internet will have been installed. The Government will complete the installation of Wi-Fi in all primary and middle schools by the end of the school year. This implementation will be complemented by an IT strategy for public schools that includes teacher training.”
And plans are underway to expand the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) Academy programme to narrow the gender gap.
“The Government will concentrate on the development of S.T.E.A.M. in our primary schools. Therefore, the Government will ensure that all primary schools have the resources to integrate S.T.E.A.M. education in classrooms by September 2018 to provide students with equal access.
“S.T.E.A.M. education initiatives have yielded excellent results worldwide, and there is much evidence to suggest that engaging girls in S.T.E.A.M. at an early age can serve to close the gender gap in later years, especially in disciplines where girls have traditionally been side-lined.
“The Government will ensure that lifelong learning and access to education and educational resources are available to all Bermudians of all ages,” said Governor Rankin.
“In keeping with its commitment to hit the ground running, the Government has already delivered one of its 100-day pledges by investing in Bermuda’s future by providing the opportunity for 15o Bermudians to further their education at the Bermuda College.
“The Government will create a National Workforce Development Plan, in collaboration with our key stakeholders, to ensure that Bermudians are properly prepared to take advantage of both current and future job opportunities. The plan will include a National Skills Policy for employers to address chronic skills shortages across different occupational groupings.
“The plan will also offer more training programmes at the College to provide more opportunities for Bermudians to retool their skill-sets. Additionally, the Government will conduct a pilot programme to assess the provision of child-care services to working parents to enable them to attend night courses at the Bermuda College,” he added.
He also stressed that education reform “and improving our public education system will yield better outcomes in the future”.
Said Governor Rankin: “Poor educational attainment and the lack of economic opportunities are the main contributing factors to anti-social behaviour and violence.”
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