Video: Ministers Hold Press Conference

November 9, 2023 | 0 Comments

[Updated] Minister of National Security Michael Weeks and Minister of Education Diallo Rabain are holding a press conference today [Nov 9] to discuss their Ministries’ initiatives outlined in the 2023 Throne Speech. We will have additional information later on, and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update Nov 9, 1.40pm: Minister Weeks’ full statement follows below:

Today, I am happy to talk about some of the initiatives for the Ministry of National Security as outlined in the 2023 Throne Speech.

In last year’s Throne Speech, our Ministry focused on developing early plans for an island-wide CCTV system, enacting legislation that governs staffing levels for our airport firefighters, and drafting legislation pertaining to cyber security.

As highlighted in this year’s speech, under the theme ‘Serving the People,’ human and technology resources continue to be an essential element of keeping Bermuda safe.

Our main priority is getting the new island-wide CCTV network implemented before the end of the fourth quarter of 2023.

Starting in the first quarter of 2024, the Ministry of National Security and the Bermuda Police Service will implement phase two of the initiative by conducting a number of pilot studies relating to traffic infractions. This phase will include the implementation of speed cameras.

These studies will determine how the new CCTV network can aid in more rigid enforcement of traffic laws, promoting safer driving and safer road use. I will provide further updates on the full implementation of the CCTV network and on the phase two developments after the planned pilot studies. The CCTV network is another tool that will be used to keep our citizens safe.

Introducing a cyber security bill to the legislature continues to be a priority for this Government. I am pleased to say that we are closer to finalising the drafting process and tabling a cyber security bill in the House of Assembly.

The bill will be revised to incorporate the necessary statutory enhancements recommended in response to September’s cyberattack on the Bermuda Government.

The cyber attack underscored the critical need for robust and adaptive cybersecurity measures in our country, and that is why this Government is determined to ensure the safety and security of Bermuda’s digital landscape.

Once the cyber security bill is drafted and approved by the legislature, the legislation will not only address the evolving cyber landscape but also incorporate the valuable lessons learned from September’s attack.

A cyber bill is more than just laws and regulations; it is a safeguard for our national security, the protection of sensitive data, and the continued functioning of our critical national infrastructure. It ensures that we have in place secure technology systems and frameworks in which to conduct our business.

As we chart a course for the upcoming year, we must address the human resource challenges identified within our uniformed services. We are resolute in our pledge to create opportunities for more Bermudians to contribute to organisations that make up our uniformed services, recognising the importance of diversifying and strengthening our ranks.

Therefore, the Ministry of National Security proudly announces the forthcoming implementation of the Uniformed Services Cadet Training Programme.

This initiative will serve as a beacon of hope and opportunity for our young Bermudians, setting the stage for promising careers in Bermuda’s uniformed services.

The Uniformed Services Cadet Training Programme will offer foundational training, equipping successful candidates with the skills, discipline, and knowledge necessary to excel in the diverse and challenging roles of our uniformed services.

Through this programme, we will empower young men and women with the tools they need to succeed while instilling a deep sense of civic duty and responsibility.

Strengthening the ranks of our uniformed services is something that we are focused on year-round. The public will recall the graduation in September of 23 Bermudian recruit firefighters who completed a grueling training programme in the UK and are now operating at the airport.

Last week, nine recruits began their foundational training course within the Department of Corrections, supporting our ranks of Corrections Officers. We will be releasing details of their training course soon and there is another recruitment course planned in the near future.

Another legislative priority for our Ministry is to explore legislation providing additional safeguards for our young people – particularly our young women.

Sometimes, when discussing national security, we often focus on policies dealing with our young men. However, we also need to focus on protecting our young ladies.

I was pleased to hear compelling presentations from the Family Centre’s Youth Leadership Academy on various issues affecting young people and our families.

One issue that was addressed during the presentations was our culture of ‘catcalling’ or street harassment, in which men regularly target our young ladies on the street by shouting out harassing comments, which are often sexually suggestive, threatening and demeaning.

This presentation showed that this issue is more prominent than some may realise. It was clear to me, especially as a father, that street harassment can be particularly traumatising for its victims.

Sometimes, the victims of this harassment are school-aged girls. This behaviour is abhorrent and simply unacceptable in any decent society and we are committed to taking measures to eradicate such inappropriate behaviour.

Legislation already exists to counters this type of harassment; however, I believe we need to explore ways to enhance the protection of our young women to ensure that they feel comfortable and safe while walking our streets.

Thank you.

Update Nov 9, 1.40pm: Minister Rabain’s full statement follows below:

Good Morning.

It should come as no surprise that in the opening remarks of the Throne Speech, the very first statements were focused on education reform and highlighted the critical role education reform plays in ensuring our country makes genuine progress.

Her Excellency highlighted, “The 2023 school year marked a milestone with Francis Patton and Purvis Primary Schools transforming into the inaugural Parish Primary Schools. This change reflects our commitment to equitable, high-quality education for all. Though reform takes time, its significance in nurturing community growth is undebatable. Education underpins societal success.”

In September 2022, CedarBridge Academy and The Berkeley Institute welcomed the first cohort into the Signature Learning Programmes [SLPs]. After one year, and based on recent surveys, our findings are promising:

  • Approximately 75% of Signature Learning Programme students report enjoying their studies, which is crucial since enjoyment fosters motivation and, consequently, academic success.
  • Approximately 70% of students believe Signature Learning Programme courses help them to build on their talents and capabilities. This is significant as the courses have been structured so students can have strengths-based, personalised pathways where we move away from a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • Approximately 70% of students believe Signature Learning Programme teachers and coursework challenge them to do their best. This matters as an appropriate level of challenge is one of the strongest predictors of academic performance.

This ongoing monitoring and evaluation is combined with reports from both Principals that students are engaged, resulting in fewer examination re-sits and re-submissions of late assignments than non- Signature Learning Programme courses.

The Throne Speech also outlined the Government’s ongoing commitment to education reform, specifying the establishment of transformation teams for the next two Parish Primary Schools – Elliot Primary and Harrington Sound Primary – and introducing new signature programmes in hospitality, tourism, and education services at Sandys Secondary Middle School.

The Education Reform Unit has recently advertised to recruit the next set of School Transformation Teams and is seeking dedicated educators and community partners to join this transformative initiative.

The School Transformation Teams will be responsible for supporting the unique Bermudian-led process for redesigning signature schools and parish primary schools that will form Bermuda’s transformed public school system.

The responsibilities of each School Transformation Team include:

  • Collaboratively designing the parish primary schools for Elliott Primary and Harrington Sound Primary, utilising the 10 features of parish primary schools.
  • Continuation of the Year 1 and Year 7 curricula at Francis Patton and Purvis Parish Primary Schools, along with the development of the Year 2 and Year 8 curricula.
  • Ongoing development of the Hospitality and Tourism along with Education Services Signature Learning Programme at Sandys Secondary Middle School.
  • Expansion of the Signature Learning Programmes at CedarBridge Academy and The Berkeley Institute to include new strands in Arts and Culture, and Sport and Leisure Management, respectively.

This legislative year, we will present a bill to establish an Education Authority, following the Bermuda First’s recommendation. This will introduce a new governance structure to effectively manage and advance the public education system.

Key to the success of public education is the introduction of a new governance and management structure and culture. The Ministry engaged the Education Authority Working Group [EAWG] to develop a multi-year implementation plan.

The establishment of the Authority is an ambitious, complex and wide-ranging undertaking that will involve numerous legal entities, public and private acts, aided schools, various unions and bargaining units, employment rights and property rights, in addition to affecting over 1000 Department of Education employees and school staff, and over 4000 students and their parents, the Ministry determined that specialised and dedicated legal advice was required to provide proactive strategic direction and to respond to both anticipated and unanticipated legal issues uncovered during the development and implementation of the Authority.

The Government’s commitment to advancing education reform is unwavering. We are here to support and uphold the interests of the students of Bermuda today and for future generations.

Thank you.

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