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News from the Turks and Caicos Islands:





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Letter: Save our schools
Published on January 18, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Education in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is in serious trouble!

This purpose of this articulation is to explicitly expose the continuous education crisis that is unfolding within the TCI so that the citizens of these islands and voters alike can come face to face with the facts that will lead the reader to the discovery of the reasons why most Turks and Caicos Islands are finding themselves at the bottom of the “economic food chain” in comparison to their counterparts in other neighbouring Caribbean countries.

Simultaneously, the oxymoron of this situation is that the TCI education system itself, (especially the way it functions under this current PNP regime) plays a vital role in shoving Turks and Caicos Islanders down to the bottom of the “economic food chain.” Turks and Caicos Islanders have now found themselves the victims of the nation’s “skills-gap.” Thanks to a TCI failing education system and dysfunctional curricula.

It is no wonder why the number of private educational institutions has skyrocketed over the last decade within this country. More and more parents are even homeschooling their children to ensure that their child has an accessed opportunity to quality education and curricula. Young voters especially have completely lost total hope in TCI public education.

In addition to this, a number of independent research studies now show that poor education lies at the root of most of TCI problems, including unemployment, poverty, gun violence, intolerance and loss of respect for humanity and inequality. Without a dramatic improvement in education, the crevasses in the society of these islands will continue to deepen.

Can someone please tell Akerria Mary Deann Missick to go on a fact finding mission and she will discover that all the other Caribbean nations are doing everything in their powers to create access to quality education, technical vocation education and of course professional higher learning education because, unlike her, these ministers of other Caribbean developing countries have already established a robust developed understanding that education is the main vehicle that drives the human resource mechanism in any developing country.

Now let us examine what others are doing right in our very own backyard in terms of educational pursuits for advancing their societies:

Bahamas

The government of The Bahamas is working very hard to ensure an improved, expanded and quality education system that will prepare young Bahamians for a prosperous future. This work continues, as I speak. Some recent and ongoing initiatives are stated as follows:

• This fiscal year, the government has invested $45 million in public education including the construction of a new state of the art high school in Grand Bahama.

• With over $17 million spent on scholarships in the 2014/2015 budget, the government has doubled the investment in education.

• The Bahamas High School Diploma Programme sets a standard for graduation. Primary and secondary schools now have an internationally recognized standard for graduation that holds everyone within the education system accountable.

• Mandatory testing in primary schools has been implemented to identify children who would benefit from a different learning environment that is more responsive to their needs.

• Special Education is a top priority for the government in order to assess how each child learns and enable them to succeed. The Marjorie Davis Institute for Special Education officially opened in April 2015.

• $16 million has been allocated for the College of The Bahamas transition to a university. This significant transition will increase the nation’s capacity for research and innovation, and is a significant step forward in stemming the tide of young Bahamians pursuing higher education abroad.

• The Fresh Start Programme has been expanded, which educates and trains youth for careers. The programme has moved to three cycles per year rather than only one, and has also expanded to the Family Islands. Forty-seven percent of youth enrolled in the programme gain employment as a direct result.

• The Bahamas Learning Channel was launched in November 2015. Educational outcomes were significantly improved with over 1,500 students securing grades of A-D in standardized exams, delivering the best scholastic performances in 20 years.

Cayman Islands

Next, let us check what one of our sister overseas dependent territories are saying and doing in terms of education advancements for the people of the Cayman Islands. It is also important to note that the leaders in the Cayman Islands is of the view and determination that the Cayman Islands educational institutions will perhaps one day become a centre of excellence in education.

First and foremost, the Caymanian government leaders are committed to developing a world-class education system that positions their children and young people for success in further learning, employment and life. Here is what the premier had to say in his Budgetary 2015/2016 address regarding education:

“We are a first world country and our children deserve a first class education system that is conducive to effective learning. Therefore, we will invest in the future leaders of these islands by providing the proper developmental infrastructure that offers them the best opportunity for future success. In this regard, Madam Speaker, the government has allocated approximately $6 million to the ministry of education, employment and gender affairs to continue with the construction of the new John Gray High School and to carry out other minor capital works.

“In addition, we are prepared to develop and initiate a new legislative framework for education with full implementation of the National Curriculum and introduce an enhanced governance model for education, which creates new levels of partnership with parents, the community and the private sector with more devolved responsibilities and greater accountability among all stakeholders.

“Government will fully implement the Cayman Islands Early Childhood Curriculum Framework and the Education Council guidelines for early childhood care and education centres (2013) and continue to implement the ‘response to intervention’ approach to support the most at-risk students.

“We will formalize and implement a public-private-partnership strategy for the re-opening of the historic George Town Library building as a cultural centre and promote and grow the School for Hospitality Studies.

“We plan to expand the curriculum of the Cayman Islands Law School to introduce the LLM degree programme in International Finance: Law and Regulation, in order to further enhance the school’s stellar track record as a reputable institution for tertiary education.”

Barbados

Next, let us take a look at Barbados. Word is in the news that the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) board of directors has approved US$7.75 million in financing to improve access to tertiary education in Barbados and to strengthen the business operations of the country’s Students Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF). According to Mr Andre Dupigny, director of the projects (acting), “This financing will help give Barbadians, especially those mostly in need, a better chance of successfully completing tertiary education. Providing access to affordable higher education financing will help Barbados develop a skilled, well-trained workforce equipped to boost the island’s competitiveness and contribute to sustainable economic growth.”

Trinidad and Tobago

Next, let us take a peep at Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago has long begun the process of paving the way for structural reforms within the Caribbean by making dramatic changes to its education system. This country of about 1.34 million people is attempting to reform higher education so that it may increase its economic output.

In fact, Trinidad and Tobago is seeking to educate its students through a major expansion of its vocational and academic programs.

They have invested hundreds of millions in their Universities and institutions of higher learning. These people are very serious about education. Here is what the president of Guyana, Brigadier David Granger, noted in a speech that he gave at the opening of the new US$600 million St Augustine South Campus at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago.

He noted that “Students of higher education should suppress their outdated social and class differences and build a more inclusive political system”. The president of Guyana is also now calling for education reform his country too.

Saint Lucia

Next, let us take a spy on Saint Lucia. The government of Saint Lucia, with the help of a US$12 million CDB funding, will be engaging in curriculum reform, management and teacher training, capacity building through leadership, supply furniture and equipment for primary and secondary schools throughout Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia has also understudied Barbados’ approaches in meeting the needs of special education students in its school system, as a means to be better able to accommodate students with special educational needs. Cleary the goal here is to improve the overall access to education, education reform, education quality and effectiveness of schools in the education system in Saint Lucia.

Suriname

The next country to check out is Suriname. It is a well-established known fact that the board of executive directors of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), approved nearly US$895 million to contribute towards new development projects in IsDB member countries. From this hefty funding, it is being declared that US$30.8 million will go to Suriname to support a secondary and technical education project in that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member country.

In addition to this, the country’s (BEIP) Basic Education Improvement Program will invest nearly US$12 million in developing curriculum and text books in order to improve the level of education. Approximately US$5 million will be utilized to renovate classrooms and build residences for teachers in the countryside, where students are most vulnerable and have the highest risk of dropping out.

Another $2 million will go towards equipment and training sessions and a Center for Continuous Education Improvements that will provide adequate space for training teachers and other professional development activities. Thanks to a loan approved by IADB (Inter-American Development Bank).

Now with all of that being said, one can reasonably conclude that these Caribbean countries are on top of their game plan in regards to educational advancement within their countries. The government and elected leaders of these nations that I have just stipulated so far have displayed that they indeed have a sustainable plan as far as education is concerned. These ministers of education all have a plan for propelling the human resource mechanism of their countries’ advancement via education.

Turks and Caicos Islands

And what is the current minster of education for the Turks and Caicos Islands doing to create access to higher learning? What is being done to close the skill gap that currently exists among Turks and Caicos Islanders? What are the priorities of the government in terms of education? Have we properly costed our education strategic plan to determine the financial resource requirements for achieving the goals set in the plan? If yes, how and how well was the costing done? What is the financial gap between what is required and funds allocated? Did we use benchmarks from other comparable countries? What data is available on the budget execution rate regarding current and investment public expenditures? In fact, do we actually have a sustainable overall plan for education?

Now, ladies and gentlemen of the jury in this court of public opinion, the last time that I shed some light on what is actually going on in this country regarding the state of education, the minister of education for TCI went on a repulsive radio binge spree to address the exposed issues.

It is now apparent to the entire Caribbean region and the global world that this woman is suffering from the “drowning rat” syndrome. Whenever she is presented with the impregnable evidence, it is apparent to all that this is the way she responds. She has spent the last three weeks in the most appalling manner, gloating around on the national air waves, going from one radio station to the next, from one talk show to the next, in her lame, failed attempts to fallaciously justify the failures of her PNP government and their systematically failed leadership.

For one thing, I am not sure how people even can sit and listen to the antediluvian rants of this babbling fool running on about nothing more than the same old, same old empty, monotone, political rhetoric. The people of the Turks and Caicos Islands are fed up to their eyebrows and are literally sick of this woman trying to justify the failed leadership of her administration. She has now become as annoying as a Doberman with dentures!

Akerria Missick circumloquaciously answers questions when responding to the major concerns of the general public regarding education in the TCI. This woman needs to refrain from gerrymandering around issues and get to the main darn point. Voters do not like dishonest people. She needs to be honest to the people regarding the real and true state of education in this country and quit playing political games with the minds of the people.

And also on that same note, with such an important role that she has to uphold in TCI society, if she is spending so much time to respond to an article on the radio airwaves, then it also begs the question, how much time does she spend in her office to get the people’s work accomplished? Her behaviour in general is a mockery to diplomacy, and is a disgrace to the good people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Her Twitter account can easily be confused with that of an addictive alcoholic, binge eater or worse, an indulgent glutton and one who is severely obsessed with multiple weaponry of guns, bullets and all other imageries that are very disturbing and unbecoming of a diplomat and someone with integrity in public life.

I am not saying that she doesn’t have a right to own a gun, because that is not the issue here; the issue here is even greater. When you are a person in public life there are some things that you just don’t do. If you take a look at her Twitter account, then you would see the disgrace for yourself. This woman is a complete disgrace to women in politics. And we wonder why so much gun violence is on the rise in TCI? Ladies and gentleman, are these the type of images that we want to project as our leaders to the world? I say hell no! Ladies and gentlemen and the voting public of the Turks and Caicos Islands, this is not the type of individual that you vote for in the polling stations on election day in 2016!

These Turks and Caicos Islands are now at the mercy of a failed PNP government cabinet consisting of a bunch of anti-intellectuals. These ministers have very little interest in educating the citizens of this country. In fact, it is in their game plan to take the average Turks and Caicos Islander as far as high school and that is it. These people who sit in Cabinet are yet to skilfully combat the education crisis that we face in this country. None of them seems to be on a mission seeking to better the education and training system of this country. The minister of education in TCI especially is completely out of touch with reality.

She is hypnotized and deluded into thinking that building concrete structures are the answers to solving the education crisis that exists within these islands. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, she can erect as many concrete structures as she wishes! Until she can come to grips with a developed understanding of state of the education system in this country and the necessary steps that must be taken to bring about the reform that is so badly needed, we will remain exactly where we are a thousand years from now. And Turks and Caicos Islanders will continue to plummet to the bottom of the economic food chain.

This woman is totally oblivious to what needs to get done to bring about the necessary improvements in the education system. She is in essence stifling the advancement and intellectual growth of the citizens of the TCI. If Akerria Missick cannot handle the job as minister of education for the Turks and Caicos Islands, then it would be in her best interest to return to her original role as secretary for her no good and corrupt PNP party.

In plain words, it is high time for the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands to tell this woman to hit the road Jack and don’t come back no more. For if she does, we the voters are standing ready to mercilessly defeat her at the polls!

T Forbes
 
Reads: 11793





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