I am pleased to see the Minister of Education is considering an education authority. This is something the One Bermuda Alliance has suggested before and it was included in our Reply to the Throne Speech.
Education should be a bipartisan effort and I am grateful to the minister for considering all options equally. Education needs the politics taken out of it, and for it to be placed in the hands of capable professionals in the field of education.
Our Westminster style of government does not provide the stability needed for an education system to flourish. The changing of government, or ministers, causes education policy to change direction based on whichever government or minister has a “bright idea”.
An authority creates continuity in structure and direction, free of political grandstanding. I urge the minister to vigorously pursue this option, as a shift in our education system is badly needed.
I wish to go a step farther regarding education reform and put forward a few suggestions.
We need to employ behavioural specialists within our public-school system to properly diagnose behaviour issues and learning disabilities.
They collect data on the behaviour patterns of students, create behaviour plans for students with behaviour issues, and monitor those plans effectively. It would provide much needed support to the counsellors and teachers who find themselves dealing with unruly behaviour.
This would also allow proper and logged files for children in learning support and plans to improve their learning experience. I would also recommend that, along with signature schools, we reintroduce trade schools for students who have an affinity for trade work.
There is always demand for Bermudian tradesmen — let’s empower our population again in this career sector.
These classes need to be available in all four years of high school, not just in S4. Our curriculum needs to be geared towards the job market available in Bermuda.
Last but not least, we need to have suitable education options for those with autism and other learning disabilities within the public-education system. Many parents are referred to private-education options that can range from $11,000 to $12,000 per child.
All children are owed a suitable education. Parents should not have to shoulder such a high financial burden to ensure their child receives suitable education, just because they have a disability.
I eagerly await the direction the Government goes with our education system.
• Dwayne Robinson is an Opposition senator with the One Bermuda Alliance