The Progressive Labour Party reiterated its pledge that education remains its top priority one day ahead of the General Election.
David Burt, Leader of the Opposition, was joined by Diallo Rabain, spokesman for education, and St David’s MP Lovitta Foggo to discuss the party’s plan for short and long-term education reform at a press conference this morning.
According to Mr Burt, students had been forgotten under the One Bermuda Alliance, while frequent changes in education ministers had created inconsistencies and a lack of accountability.
“It is a baffling exercise to imagine what the One Bermuda Alliance had been thinking when they had been wilfully ignoring the needs of our children and our teachers,” he said.
Pointing to Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Mr Burt said: “The disrespect that he showed to teachers who dared to stand up for their students, and their own health, is astonishing.”
Mr Rabain said that teacher and student health and safety must be ensured.
“To that end the PLP will, in its first 100 days of its administration, conduct a review of all school facilities to identify and correct any health and safety issues,” he said.
Mr Rabain reiterated the party’s pledge to put Wi-Fi in all public schools within the same 100 days.
“In the year 2017, it is unacceptable that we have schools that only have two working computers,” he said.
The division of “two Bermudas” widened with funding cuts implemented under the current administration, Mr Rabain said.
He pledged to increase scholarship funding, and implement a low-interest student rate programme to “further increase access to higher education”.
“There is much work to be done, and we intend to hit the ground running,” Mr Rabain said.
Ms Foggo said “concrete plans” on education were needed. Real-time date to measure academic performance was also an “absolute necessity”, she said.
“It is imperative that we prepare our children for opportunities in today’s world,” Ms Foggo said.
Mr Burt also discussed plans to phase out middle schools, the creation of “signature schools”, and the removal of geographical restrictions currently in place to determine what school a child may attend as part of the party’s long-term plan for reforms.
Standards for early education achievement would also be developed, Mr Burt said.
The PLP’s education plan, he said would restore public confidence in the system and ensure accountability.
“Everything that the PLP has said and will do after tomorrow will be to the goal of ensuring that we are putting Bermudian children first,” Mr Burt said.
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