The following Op-Ed was posted on Facebook on Monday, May 17, 2021, by Ryan Robinson Perinchief, the founder of Future Leaders Bermuda on the recent pledge $25,000 a year to fund private school scholarships for Black students…

Every child in Bermuda deserves a high quality education. And Bermuda has seen success stories from all types of schools, public and private.

It is highly significant that a company such as Clarien has made an explicit undertaking to dedicate funding toward Black Bermudians, but it is even more significant what this step has been made in pursuit of.
 
As a community, we must have a serious discussion about the fact that funds are now being specifically allocated toward transitioning Black Bermudians out of government education into private schooling – not to mention predominantly white institutions.
 
Let me be clear: I have no intention of undermining the generosity of private institutions who wish to engage in charitable giving, and I am grateful to Clarien for highlighting this issue.
 
But something is structurally wrong when the historic trend of funneling Black Bermudians that fit a certain criteria from government schools into private education has now become institutionalised and celebrated as a desirable outcome of charity.
 
Equity DOES NOT look like selecting Black Bermudian students as worthy of transition into the private school system. Not only can this be damaging to the individual child’s self-perception and conceptualisation of the requirements of a quality education, but making this into a formalised practice will inevitably disrupt the learning environment of the school they will leave behind.
 
This prolongs the status quo and prevents systemic change under the justification of saving those deemed worthy of saving. It is institutionalised relief at the expense of the wider goal of system wide improvement. I don’t need the details beyond this article to know what exactly the investment is here and who it benefits the most. This practice has been adopted in other countries – notably countries where Black people are the *minority* – and we seem to be following the trend.
 
The commitment to investing in the endeavours of Black Bermudians is a noble one. But when we are informed by history and we are clear on our goals, we must ABSOLUTELY look a gift horse in the mouth. This one bites – we must nip it in the bud.
 
When we suck those deemed ‘top’ Black students from the system, we must ask what happens to those we leave behind.
  • Mr Perinchief also wrote on Twitter: “A formal practice of funnelling Black Bermudian children out of community schools into private ones on the basis of ‘charity’ is short-sighted and individualistic at best, and detrimental to all those working hard for systemic change in our schools at worst.”