Education Minister Diallo Rabain announced a new teacher’s certification bonded loan scheme in a bid to tackle staff shortages within the public school system and help to lighten the financial burden to cover the costs for training.
Tasked to create new pathways to help enhance the recruitment and development process for new teachers, he said the programme is open to Bermudians only and designed to increase their numbers in the teaching profession.
Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday (June 2) said: “The purpose of this loan is to provide financial support to Bermudian residents who are enrolled in an approved distance-learning teacher certification programme.
“Considered applicants must be currently enrolled in an approved distance-learning teacher certification programme and must be currently working in the public school system under exemption status as recommended by the BEC exemption committee and who are on track to successfully complete their teaching certification programme.
“The 12-week teaching practicum is considered a period of study, not employment, that parallels that of an overseas student who undertakes a teaching practicum programme.
“Therefore, during this period, exempted status persons are not remunerated.
“This has become financially challenging for persons enrolled in the teaching certification programme,” he added.
At this point in time, the Mr Rabain said there were staff shortages of qualified teachers in math, English and foreign languages, in addition to music, drama and physical education.
He also noted that the Bermuda Educators Council exemption committee allows some people to teach these subjects without the required qualifications.
Application Process & Loan Details:
The loans are valued at up to $4,800 per month for three months and are available only during the 12-week practicum teaching period.
Applicants also have the option to apply for a prefixed loan and will be responsible for the repayment.
The scheme is open to Bermudians who are resident, aged over 25 and already enrolled in an accredited long-distance teaching certification programme.
They must also be looking to qualify in subjects where there is a shortage of qualified staff.
The loan programme will start in September and guidelines for applications are available at forms.gov.bm.
It was also noted that “the loss of a salary while completing a 12-week teaching practicum has become a roadblock for persons who have decided to change professions and pursue a career in teaching”.
“By affording a bonded loan to cover living expenses, persons will be able to focus on their teaching practicum experience and successfully complete their teaching certification without financial impediment,” said Mr Rabain.
The Minister was joined by Ms Laurel Burns, a “former member of the Board of Education when the policy was developed and a BTIP (Bermuda Teacher Induction Program) representative, and a former Mentor Teacher in the Department of Education”.
In closing, the Minister emphasized “that this initiative is to support our Bermudians who are committed to the education of our children, and are pursuing a career in the teaching profession”.
“Therefore, we encourage those persons currently exempted to teach in the public school system and who may need the financial support during the undertaking of their 12-week practicum to take advantage of this initiative,” he said.
“We look forward to continuing efforts to support the Bermudianisation of teachers in the education system.”