Column: Reevaluating Current Education System

December 7, 2015

[Opinion column written by Senator Diallo Rabain]

Being a parent and first time PTA President changes ones perspectives and priorities like nothing else. It makes you want to ensure your child has the best upbringing and opportunities possible.

This has been true for my wife and I, and providing the best for our child is undoubtedly a responsibility I hold as a high priority.

This desire is what should be at the heart of our education system, the desire to give our children a chance at a bright future. We have arrived at a time where we must do the work and make the bold decisions necessary to make this possible.

Diallo Rabain 151207

This work begins with reevaluating the position we are in with our current education system, and embracing the necessary changes that we must make.

In the Reply to the Throne Speech, Opposition Leader Marc Bean outlined the way in which the next PLP government plans to address the inefficiencies our current system creates.

Transitioning from the middle school concept, while maintaining it’s benefits, allows us to create a framework that better suits our needs and culture, which will in turn better set our students up for success.

A curriculum that transitions students from primary straight to secondary school accommodates a better learning experience and enhances engagement in a more specialized curriculum. Although a large undertaking, with this plan our sole aim is to give our children the foundation that they so desperately need, but are currently without.

I encourage everyone to look out in the weeks and months ahead as the Opposition Leader, Shadow Minister of Education and I continue to lay out our vision and generate feedback from stakeholders.

- Diallo Rabain

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Comments (41)

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  1. Nanabarbs says:

    Mr. Diallo Rabain

    Explain to me “What is the Middle School Concept? and, What benefits?

    Now this I agree in..
    A curriculum that transitions students from primary straight to secondary school accommodates a better learning experience and enhances engagement in a more specialized curriculum.

    • This was attempted already. Politics needs to stay out of the political arena. Too many changes in to short a time. Do remember, public school students are just as clever, or even more clever, than their private school counterparts. Leave the public system ALONE and quit changing the philosophy over and over again. Too many Ministers for Education in too short a time period!!
      Our students will do better if changes are not made .

  2. Kim Smith says:

    Education is one of the areas in desperate need of improvement here in Bermuda. Very pleased it is being raised again.

    • Ms. Poli Tician says:

      Want to improve education?
      1. Get the politicians out of the mix – NOW
      2. Create a diverse (Principal, parents, teachers, psychologists) Board for every school
      3. Allow the Principal and the Board to run the school
      4. Make parental involvement in school activities mandatory
      5. Fire teachers who underperform (and there are plenty of ways to measure performance)
      6. Make the Department of Education 1/10 the size it is now

      That’s just the starting point, but you see where I’m going with this, right? These are concrete, defined deliverables, quite unlike the vague drivel in Mr. Rabain’s speech.

    • Terry says:

      Bulls***.
      It starts at home.
      Anyone home?

  3. Preparation says:

    Looks like he’s getting ready for Constituency #13 bye election…

    • watching says:

      I hope he is! He is very effective in the Senate and I expect he would be an asset in the House of Assembly. I would be very pleased if the PLP run him in this bye-election.

  4. Would the Senator care to tell us what the PLP did in 14 years for the education of a generation of young Bermudian children? Would the Senator care to make a statement on the Auditors Report and Special Reports? Highly unlikely.

    It looks like he is the chosen candidate to represent Marc Beans philosophy of the PLP. My wager is that he will regain his Senate seat after the bye-election. This is one by-election where independent voters (and PLP voters) should be prepared to send the PLP a message for failing a generation of Bermudian children and failing to protect the public purse. There is too much damning evidence in the public domain for blind loyalty.

    • lowe says:

      What did the UBP/OBA do? Screw up public education completely?

      • Double S says:

        You mean provide a world-class facility like Cedarbridge (at the time of its opening at least)?

        You are too young to remember the previous setup (i.e. pre-middle schools) which was still producing poor results that we achieve today.

        What did the PLP/BIU/UBP do to fix the so called system?

        More money is spent on public education, on per student basis, than the highest tuition for local private schools.

        Either way at some point students and parents will have to take personal responsibility for their educational shortcomings. But much easier to pass the buck I guess.

        Everything is someone else’s fault in Bermuda.

      • hmmm says:

        huh?

      • 100%correct. The ubp/oba has virtually destroyed a healthy education philosophy over the decades. Leave the public students alone and allow them to excel.

        • hmmm says:

          14 years of the PLP…..thanks for Clarifying….

          What changes did the OBA make that ruined it since the PLP ?

          • impressive. says:

            The “OBA” haven’t made any significant changes that has made Education any worse. However, the former “OBA” under its old BRAND ie The UBP implemented a policy under the late Clarence Terceira and then completed under Gerald Simons, which destroyed a perfectly good system that was producing well educated and well rounded individuals. However this was heavily impacted when the UBP decided to adopt the middle school format, following programs in North America which where inferior to the system that was functioning quite good at the time.. Now the question should be, Why did the UBP decide to change the system in the mid 90′s????????????

            Yes, the PLP where the government for 14 years as their tenure began in 1998, however after the former government had invested so much funds in reshaping the public education system not long before them becoming government. I guess they thought it would be prudent to give the system a chance to work, given the resources that went in making the change. I really don’t know why the PLP didn’t change the system back, and its something that pisses me off until today, similar to the anger that I feel when I think how the system was messed with in the first place.

            • A few queries says:

              I suggest you read news archives the of pre-middle school era regarding school results.

              They were just as poor as they are today with the then opposition railing against the system.

              If I remember correctly the then opposition also criticized heavily the ‘colonial” Cambridge curriculum and the lack of Bermudian teachers. The Givt acquiesced to both demands and the downhill slide began. This was pre-Cedarbridge might I remind you.

              Why can’t anyone answer the simple question as to how the middle school set up somehow destroyed the learning abilities of public school children? What changed so drastically that caused these poor results?

              Do you honestly think that by reverting back to the old system and implementing the Caribbean curriculum as proposed by the PLP will somehow produce improved results? It will be the same teachers, under the same Ministry, teaching the same children.

              • Impressive says:

                I wish I could answer that question in a manner that explains the downturn in detail, but I can’t. I will have to research the first point you made and come back to that point. I graduated from high school here in Bermuda in 1988 and went abroad to University in the United States where I graduated Cum Laude. There seemed to many Bermudian students excelling around me, but maybe it was just in the circles that I was in, who knows.

            • Spit Bouy says:

              In fairness the changing of our education system was in direct correlation to the ‘mindest’ by our decision makers & the prevailing anti Colonial attitude of many Bermudians that we needed to get rid of all things British & all things US was the preferred choice.

              When you consider that many of the decision makers would have completed their further education in the US & the anti British attitude that has become ingrained it’s no surprise.

              We were hell bent on tearing down a proven system of education and training that though may have needed tweaking had served us well for generations. Sadly we replaced it with one that was inferior and failing IMO.

              It also became a political football where we had to be seen to be doing the right thing rather than actually do the right thing. As such we hired more education officers and apparently focused less on the classroom and more on the boardroom. Sadly little has changed under either of the recent governments tenures.

  5. For real says:

    This is just jargon….yawn

  6. Primary to Senior says:

    I may not agree with everything the PLP says but this surely is one of them. Middle school system is not feasible for Bermuda and should have been gone over a decade ago…

    • Primary to Senior says:

      Although it may not be gone, I do applaud suggesting to make it a much more sensible transition for students

      • hmmm says:

        Since you seem to know so much about it, care to explain the differences.

  7. Who Cares? says:

    Why should we pay for your child’s education? If you can’t afford kids, don’t have any!

    • Yes says:

      You obviously haven’t thought this through.
      If there is one single thing that the Bermuda Government can do to make life better for it’s citizens, to improve employment for Bermudians, to increase the wisdom in our debates and to grant us more control over our destiny it is to make the public education system a really good place to get those crucial first parts of your education up through high school.

      Unfortunately practically every government in living memory has made the system worse or maintained its failures. Bermuda has failed its children for well over fifty years. Everyone involved is responsible. Both political parties, the parents, the teachers and the unions are all disgracefully guilty of selfishness and myopia and their goals almost never had anything to do with creating a better education for the kids who pass through the system. We should be ashamed but instead our politicians go about blathering as if they know something about education.

      If Bermuda wants a better education system we had better start making all that money do something better. Raise the hiring standards of the teachers, let those teachers go who don’t measure up and don’t be afraid to hire from away. Make this one sacrifice! Hire foreign teachers and expose our children to the world while they are still here so that Bermudian culture is instilled in them at the same time. Do that and those children will grow up to be Bermudadians who are able to get scholarships, are able to be employed, who are repected and wiser than us, and actually able to persue their dreams rather than just be told that they should. Make this one sacrifice. Do it for everyone’s children.

      Or don’t do that. Promise the moon and wish you could provide it. Bow to the unions and the PTAs and the petty motivations of politicians in election mode. Fifty years from now nothing will have changed.

      Now taking odds on which one we do.

  8. Triangle Drifter says:

    In 1998, along with many other promises, the PLP was going to fix education. They even had the very best MP to do the job in their ranks. The no nonsense Dale Butler.

    What happened? Dale Butler stayed on the back bench. The DOE continued as usual, getting bigger & bigger, spending more & more, while student levels dropped as parents who could sent their kids to private schools.

    Here we are 17 years later & pass rates in the public system are nothing at all to be proud of.

    Now all of a sudden the PLP has answers. You had your 14 year chance. You blew it. You had your reports on this & reports on that but all you did was talk & hire on more people at the DOE.

    • Terry says:

      Because Dale wanted to include us all.
      You will get it.
      Shalom.

    • educator says:

      Don’t mean to interrupt your tirade with some facts.

      1. Triangle Drifter, the DOE has shrunk in the last five years and is smaller than it has ever been.

      2. Politicians have ruined the system through their flip flop interruptions, disrepect for Bermudian education leaders, and in ability to see things through for the benefit of children.

      3. Don’t confuse state of economy with state of education. Finland, largely regarded as one of the top systems in the world is battling through its worst unemployment rate ever at 10%.

      4. Continuing to underfund the development of children, teachers and programs is now coming to bear on the system.

      5. Children are not widgets.

      6. Private schools are not accountable for the numbers of students that DON’T complete their programs, are expelled, or asked or encouraged to leave because of ‘special needs’ or financial difficulties.

  9. hmmm says:

    Redefining primary Middle High to Primary High makes NO DIFFERENCE.

    Without buzz words I’d like to hear exactly how the syllabus changes in each of the years that would have been defined as Middle school.

    The fundamental prep for High School will be the same probably.

    WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN TO FIX THE EDUCATION SYSTEM WILL NOT BE FIXED BY A SHUFFLE OF DEFINITIONS !!!!

    • Sickofantz says:

      I agree with you Hmm. How does this actually change the teaching? How does this move improve results?

    • lowe says:

      Did you actually transition through a Middle School in Bermuda? I did and it was an awful experience. I was set back in life because I attended public school in Bermuda.

      • Double S says:

        How do you know it was an awful experience if you never experienced the former structure?

        Serious question…

      • hmmm says:

        What years were you in middle school?

  10. Give it time says:

    I believe that the education system is on the right track of being improved and it should be left alone so that it can settle and the children can get familiar with the current curriculum. I went to public school all throughout my life and then went away to university in order to further my education. People were talking about education then and how things were not working. A lot of it has to do with each child and the goals that are set to achieve success. Not all kids will take their own initiative to succeed at any means necessary but kids can succeed if they have the will and drive to do so. The education system is working and does not need to be changed to drastically because children need stability, it is the chopping and changing all the time that can be hard to deal with. I currently have a child in public primary school and she is doing great. Please think about the children before you inadvertently make their lives more unstable. Leave the education system alone.

  11. Cow Polly says:

    Funny how the Senator only now is focusing on education, because it affects him personally! Wish he’d had this insight for the thousands of kids who went through the system whilst his party was in power.
    Why couldn’t he have wished for all the kids in Bermuda to have the best upbringing and opportunities possible. Isn’t this why we elect our politicians?

  12. Yourjoking says:

    This is a pretty easy fix……teach English and Math only until the kids are about 12….hammer it home so they have a good base…if they fall behind make mandatory summer classes. With a strong base they will be able to comprehend further subjects in Senior schooling.
    Have teachers constantly monitored and evaluated.
    Or just copy the private schools where Mr Rabain attended.

  13. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my thirty years of teaching: schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions. Although teachers do care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic — it has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to a different cell where he must memorize that humans and monkeys derive from a common ancestor.
    John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

  14. Walk in their shoes says:

    I’m a bit disappointed in this article, I thought the senator was going to speak from the pov of a parent, or even a PTA rep, but instead goes with the typical political angle.

  15. Interesting says:

    If anything let’s talk about lack of technology in the school system for the 21st century classroom…particularly primary schools. Mr.Rabain should ask about the state of technology intergration at the school he is PTA president of…he may get the shock of his life.

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