Column: Victoria Cunningham On Education

August 24, 2022

[Opinion column written by the OBA's Victoria Cunningham]

Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom – Oprah Winfrey

Much has been said about the Governments plans to reform education in our High Schools…however, little, if anything, has been done.

For several years, the One Bermuda Alliance has been calling for the creation of an Independent Education Authority with professionals, not politicians, managing the education of our students.

We are pleased that the Government is considering this move, but with the new academic year merely days away, where are the Signature Learning Program plans for CedarBridge Academy and The Berkeley Institute. These were promised for the 2022/2023 school year.

We need to ensure that our students and young people are qualified and prepared to join our labour force and have the opportunity to participate in the benefits of our society.

The most recent Labour Force Survey Report noted that the unemployment rate for persons aged 16 to 24 years was 32.1%. Almost one third of our island’s youth was not working in 2020 – that is tragic.

21.3% of residents with no formal High School leaving certificate were unemployed – these individuals account for only about 5% of the total workforce. Meanwhile, those with technical, vocational or bachelor’s degrees account for two thirds of the workforce and just under 2% were unemployed over the same period.

Less educated residents are more at risk from unemployment.

Our high school students need to understand the opportunities available to them should they decide to pursue further education beyond the boundaries of our public education system. Getting a technical or vocational diploma will result in a median income of almost 40% higher than those with no formal education certificate…and a degree will provide median incomes in excess of 100% more.

Technical and vocational training is key to many of the industries we have in Bermuda yet how many employers actually provide on-the-job training? Can employers get tax breaks for offering these programs? How will the new Signature Schools provide the necessary foundation for these students?

How is teacher training being conducted to deliver the essential skills and knowledge required to teach the Signature Programmes?

What measurables have been put into place to ensure the highest possible learning outcomes?

While STEM is predicted to be one of the biggest growth sectors globally, how is the Government seeking to attract foreign investment to our island to generate future employment opportunities?

How will the schools be held accountable?

Who is setting the curriculum?

These, and many others, are questions that need to be asked of Government leaders…and now, before we jeopardize any more years of learning for young Bermudians.

We need to ensure our educators, job creators and the government are pushing to inform our students of the opportunities available, and the career paths they can take, to be successful in the future and contribute to the economy of our island; otherwise economic suffering will continue.

- Victoria Cunningham, Deputy Party Chair. Candidate for Constituency 13, Devonshire North Central

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Comments (2)

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  1. Nicky says:

    Education is the key!

  2. Nothing new says:

    The UBP is strong in her.