Video: Education Minister Press Conference

February 13, 2019

[Updated] Minister of Education Diallo Rabain is holding a press conference this afternoon [Feb 13] to provides a status update on the Ministry of Education. We will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 18-minute replay is below

Update 1.56pm: Minister Rabain said, “Thank you for joining us for this month’s status report on the work being done and the being made within the Bermuda Public School System. This update and the subsequent updates are part of a promise I made to ensure that the Bermuda public were informed on the progress made within The Ministry and Department of Education. Today I will provide progress reports on:

  • 1. IT improvements;
  • 2. Facilities;
  • 3. Union Meetings; and,
  • 4. The strategic plan for public school education – or, Plan 2022.

“Let me start by stating that since taking office, the Government has endeavored to improve access to technology in our public schools. During the month of January, the IT Section in the Department of Education conducted a comprehensive IT Audit of all 18 primary schools, and assessed the network bandwidth and usage in each school for potential upgrading.

“Technical officers of the IT team visited primary schools to assess the current state of IT functionality within each school. This entailed ensuring the existing technology at each school was working as expected and any equipment not working or having issues were marked for repairs.

“During the audit undertaking, those primary schools with higher counts of issues were Port Royal, Victor Scott, and Francis Patton. The issues comprised of aging Cannon Multifunction devices, and non-working Smartboards and Smartboard projectors. The audit also revealed that a total of twenty-eight [28] workstations needed replacement. The IT team will now go back to the schools over of the next 2 weeks, to remediate the problems found.

“In addition to the IT School Audits, the IT Team spent time reaching out to local vendors to request assessments of schools with the aim of evaluating the possibility of providing and delivering fiber optic connectivity and increasing bandwidth to all schools within our system. The IT Team is also working on finalizing a solution for reducing the response time of PowerSchool, the Department’s internal communication platform for parents, teachers, principals and students.

“Let me now provide an update on how the Department of Education is progressing with Plan 2022 – the five-year strategic plan for public school education.

“There are specific strategies in Plan 2022 that underscore the importance of ensuring parents are well-informed and connected to their schools. To execute on these strategies, the Commissioner of Education met with the Parental Involvement Committee on January 24th 2019, where Members were updated on Plan 2022. Members were also given a presentation on Standards-Based Grading and then consulted about potential changes to the Education Act.

“The Commissioner of Education also met with PTA Presidents of primary and middle schools for the first time to discuss a strategy for how PTA’s can be more involved with their individual schools and how they can effectively work with the Department to improve schools. Commissioner Richards reported that the PTA Presidents were indeed passionate about their schools and are committed to helping children succeed. Meetings with PTA Presidents will continue to take place on a monthly basis.

“The third area of updates covers union activity. I previously stated we are determined to hold regularly scheduled joint meetings with our union partners. On Monday, January 28th, I held my regular quarterly meeting with the Bermuda Union of Teachers [BUT] Executive. The meeting was very productive with healthy discussion that focused on collaboration with the Ministry and identifying areas for transforming the public school system.

“Additionally, as suggested when I met with the BUT in December, to enhance the working relationship with the BUT, the Joint Consultative Committee [JCC] meetings resumed with the BUT and the Department of Education. The first JCC meeting was held on January 15th. During this meeting, several concerns that were raised by the BUT in December were discussed and resolved.

“These included:

  • Providing the BUT with a series of dates for JCC meetings for 2019.
  • Providing the BUT with a series of dates for training sessions for teachers in the Multi-Tier System of Support.
  • Informing the BUT new telephone systems were obtained for Prospect Preschool and Dalton E. Tucker Primary School. The pre-installation of the system at Dalton E Tucker has started and should be completed by mid-February. The Prospect Preschool installation will commence during the first week of April 2019.
  • Advising the BUT that fire alarm upgrades at specific schools had been installed and completed, with other upgrades scheduled later in this term.

“However, there are still a few outstanding concerns that will not be addressed at a JCC meeting. The BUT instead requested to resume discussion meetings with the Department of Education but with the assistance of the Labour Office. Items they identified as areas where resolution is still needed include the placement of allocated substitute teachers in primary schools, and the hiring of some teachers on yearly contracts. This meeting will take place next week Wednesday, February 20th.

“As it relates to the work-to-rule by school principals, the Permanent Secretary, Commissioner of Education and technical officers have held ongoing meetings with school principals and have made meaningful progress in working through the issues. Of the twenty-four [24] issues that were initially submitted, there are only three matters that remain outstanding. These include: matters relating to Student Services, the School Improvement Plan and Standards-Based Grading. Talks resumed with the school principals last week Tuesday, February 5th with the intent to bring closure to this industrial action. We are now waiting to hear back from the Principals.

“With regard to the matter of Prospect Primary school that the Department experienced last month. School teachers reached out to the Department to seek support with meeting the needs of some of their students. To address this, our Students Services staff spent time at the school assisting staff with the Multi-Tiered System of Support [MTSS], a process required by all schools to identify interventions when addressing student needs. The initial concerns have been addressed and the Student Services staff will continue to work with Prospect Primary as matters of student needs arise.

“Finally, I want to briefly provide an update on the status of school websites. There is an initiative in place that will transform the current digital platform of our Ministry website. A second tier of this initiative will deal with individual school websites. Each school website will have a designated owner and all owners will use the same process and procedures for updating the site content. As it stands now, there are variances in each school website due to the fact that some sites have designated persons to update them and some do not. These changes are due to launch in May of this year.

“In closing, I want to reinforce that steady progress is being made. The Ministry and the Department of Education remain committed to supporting students and staff while creating safe, productive school environments. Collaboration, cooperation and communication among stakeholder is part of that commitment. The Ministry and the Department of Education are strengthened because of it and we are further along the path to an Education System that better positions our children to participate and lead in Bermuda’s 21st century economy. Thank You”

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  1. trump supporter says:

    Must be a day of news conferences to deflect from something, bitcoin!