The Ministry of Education Budget has been increased for the next fiscal year to facilitate the ongoing process of Education Reform in Bermuda.

“The Ministry is progressing with Education Reform and the transformation of the Bermuda Public School System from a three-tier to a two-tier system,” said Education Minister Diallo Rabain.

Speaking at a joint post-Budget briefing yesterday, he said “funding $5.6 million has been allocated to support the Education Reform capitol development projects, including continuing the current ongoing works at our first two parish primary schools, Francis Patton and Purvis”.

“Work will be completed to provide upper-level classrooms on the newly developed classrooms at Purvis for the Year 7 and Year 8 students, and additional work will be completed at Francis Patton to complete the Lyceum Preschool Building on the site and to support the parish primary school curriculum. 

“Funds have also been allocated to commence the foundation work for our two new Parish Primary Schools: Smith’s Parish Primary School at the Harrington Sound Primary School site and Devonshire Parish Primary School at the Elliot Primary School site, and the third Signature Senior School at the Sandys Secondary Middle School site where the offerings will be Hospitality and Tourism and Education Services Signature Learning Programmes for entering S1 students.”

Mr Rabain noted that “this reform isn’t just structural; it’s about creating a nurturing environment that caters to our students’ diverse needs and talents. 

“This fiscal year, we will continue laying the groundwork for our next generation of leaders, thinkers, and innovators,” he said.

“In September 2023, we celebrated a significant milestone with the opening of the first Parish Primary Schools in Warwick and Hamilton Parish, marking the beginning of a new chapter in our education reform journey.

“The path has been one of learning and growth, with its fair share of challenges and triumphs. We are acutely aware that not everything has unfolded as we envisioned,” he added.

“To that end, we have allocated funding for the continued development of programs and ongoing professional development for our dedicated educators at the Parish Primary Schools.

“Additionally, work to continue the education reform development needed to open the Smith’s and Devonshire Parish Primary Schools along with the Signature School at Sandys Secondary Middle School in September 2025. 

Overall, the Department of Education has been allocated $117.5 million, which will finance a range of educational programmes and services, including the staffing of all schools. 

“The Department will continue to provide our Bermuda Public School System students with equitable access to holistic, high-quality instruction that is culturally relevant and empowers them to reach their full potential.

“The Department of Libraries & Archives has been allocated a $3.2 million budget for the 2024/25 fiscal year, marking a $160,000 increase from the previous year. This budget will support modernization efforts, such as the creation of a new website and digital repository, improvement in records management, digitization of significant historical records including the Royal Gazette microfilm project, and the acquisition of equipment for scanning historic documents and photographs, enhancing the Bermuda National Library and Archives.

“These enhancements will not only safeguard resources and government records, enriching Bermuda’s cultural, educational, and historical landscape, but also lay a foundation for future research and exploration,” said Mr Rabain.

“By focusing on the digitization and preservation of cultural heritage, the Department aims to foster a deeper sense of pride and identity among Bermudians, promoting a greater understanding and appreciation of the island’s rich history, thereby enriching the community’s access to archival information for genealogical research and educational purposes.

“We are not just preserving our past; we’re making it accessible for all, continuing to transform our library and archives into a beacon of knowledge and pride.”

Additionally, he said: “We have budgeted over $2 million in 2024/25, an increase of over $1 million since 2017.

“The Ministry will commit $30,000 to providing a scholarship for up to 3 years for either undergraduate or post-graduate students at the University of the West Indies and fund the Further Education Awards and College Promise Programme, $500,000 and $450,000, respectively. 

“As a reminder, the College Promise Programme, provides public high school graduates with a GPA of 3.0 or higher the opportunity to attend Bermuda College tuition-free.

“This program was created in 2020 and has provided Bermudians access to cost savings of being able to complete 2 years of schooling in Bermuda, tuition-free. A tremendous savings alternative allowing parents paying for two years vs four years of schooling, making higher education a reality for more Bermudians.”

The Minister also noted that “discussions around the number of male teachers in the Bermuda Public School System and the significant impact as role models for our children have taken place”.

“As an outcome of those discussions, this year, the Ministry will provide three awards of $7,500 to assist males in funding teaching practicums to encourage male teachers to consider joining the Bermuda Public School System,” said Mr Rabain.

Meanwhile, the $14.6 million grant to Bermuda College remains the same as last year.

“The Bermuda College will continue to receive a $300,000 tuition grant to assist students with financial needs in the academic and APACE divisions. In 2023 134 student benefitted from this grant and 155 have benefitted to date in this school year. A comparative number of students is anticipated to be assisted with the 2024/25 grant,” he added.

“Through a $350,000 grant for capital funds from the Government for the safety of their students, Bermuda College will carry out much-needed infrastructure repairs to their campus.”

As the Ministry embarks on the fourth year of Education Reform, he concluded: “Our resolve has never been stronger.

“With the continuing to advance the 3-tier to 2-tier plan with parish primary school rescoring process to be completed in the coming weeks and the tabling of the necessary legislation in this parliamentary session to begin the process of forming the Education Authority, we are laying the foundations for an education system that is inclusive, quality-driven, and lifelong.

“We see that the hard work of our staff, community members, and change partners to date, has set a strong foundation for continuing the implementation of our strategy for a 21st-century learning environment in the Bermuda Public School System.

“I thank all who have participated to get us this far and look forward to continued support for the benefit of our children. 

“I encourage all to tune in when the Ministry of Education’s budget is debated, where I will elaborate on all areas of the total budget.”