The following statement was issued on Monday night (Feb 15) by the Minister of Education, Diallo Rabain in response to the Op-Ed by the Shadow Minister and Opposition Leader in the Senate, Ben Smith – One Bermuda Alliance…

If we are to listen to the Opposition, we would continue to have a system that has us tinkering around the edges, with cosmetic changes that crumble away once the newness wears off.  We are determined to reform education holistically and that will require us to stop pandering with political statements and make real and equitable change.  As Minister I have reached out to MP Smith and MP Jackson to sit and discuss education reform since the last election and both have not found the time to have that conversation, instead opting to publish op-eds that are factually incorrect and that help no one. 

I have said repeatedly that “If Education Fails, Bermuda Fails.  We all need to be on the same page Government, Opposition and the public”.  We will not be deterred and we will not play around with the future of our children or Bermuda, wasting time responding to the attempt by the Opposition to rewrite history.

Below is a timeline of our education reform and you can clearly see that the Parish Primary School proposal was the last of the four things we are working on to be announced to the public.  Issues that had been discussed when we briefed the Opposition in March 2020. 

1.   In March 2020 as part of the stakeholder group updates, a meeting was held with the Opposition to discuss education reform.  Covered in that meeting was:

a.      The need for us to revise how education is delivered

b.      Improvement teaching standards needed

c.       The removal of Middle School and introduce Signature Schools

d.      The revision of Governance with an Education Authority being an option

e.      The current state of our buildings, and;

f.       The desire to have an internationally accredited school system

2.      The Team to address research into an Education Authority was publically announced in October 2020 and work began 

3.      Learning First, the part of reform that addresses teaching and learning in the classroom, teacher professional development and signatures within the school, was launched last year in October 2020. The Bermudian Redesign Team of 54 persons comprises:

a.      16 teachers and education support staff (i.e. paraeducators and allied professionals);

b.      12 community/cultural members (not for profit, community leaders and school board members);

c.       9 school leaders (principals, deputy principals, teacher mentors);

d.      9 members with education system experience (curriculum, education and policy officers);

e.      6 parents and/or family members; and,

f.       2 industry/business partners (private sector).

4.   In October 2020, the method to remove middle schools and convert to a 2-tier system via legislation was announced and work began with legislation to achieve this scheduled to be tabled in the next legislative session.

5.   In December 2020, the consultation for Parish Primary Schools began with a process that will continue into April 2021. 

Contrary to both MP Smith and MP Jackson’s comments, there is a policy within the Ministry of Education to ensure that our teachers and school leaders are updated prior to talking to the general public.  Their dedication to our students is well known and acknowledged consistently.  Instead of making factually inaccurate statements, I urge both MP Smith and MP Jackson to accept my offer, to sit and discuss education reform.  This way, both Opposition Legislators can have accurate information to relay in their Op-eds in the future and we can live up to the moment of working together to transform our public education system.”