NASSAU, The Bahamas — The Government of The Bahamas intends to double the nation’s investment in education and training by giving particular focus to 10 crucial areas.
These include the hiring of new teachers, the transformation of schools into technological centres, advancements in pre-school and special education, the creation of career path academies for, the re-tooling of the After-School Programme, the transformation of the Bahamas Technical Vocational Institute (BTVI) into a four-year technical degree programme, in addition to plans to facilitate the establishment of the University of The Bahamas.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology, the Hon. Jerome K. Fitzgerald said the Government has already addressed one of those 10 “crucial areas” with the hiring of almost 200 new teachers for the new school year. Those new hires have already been posted “to schools throughout our archipelago” ahead of the 2012/2013 school year.
“I wish to thank my cabinet colleagues for agreeing to provide an additional one million dollars to ensure we have the sufficient compliment of teachers for the upcoming school year,”: Mr. Fitzgerald added.
Minister Fitzgerald said the Government’s plans to transform schools into technological centres through the significant international and national linkages forged between The Ministry of Education, the International Development Bank, (I.D.B.) and Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation (BTC).
He said The Bahamas will experience a major transformation in the area of Special Education as the government is “acutely aware” of the existing challenges with respect to the lack of special needs personnel coupled with the lack of resources.
“The Government, before the end of the year, will make an announcement and reveal plans unveiling the way forward for our visually, audio and mentally challenged students,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.
Minister Fitzgerald said ninth grade students will be administered a Career Interest Competency Test during the month of October, 2012, as part of the establishment of Career Path Academies, that will identify the technical inclination of those students.
“Once these inclinations have been identified, select students, upon entering the 10th grade next year, will be placed in programmes based on competency and interest for the relevant technical programmes.”
Mr. Fitzgerald said the Department of Education will re-tool the After-School Programme to cater to the needs of the whole child. Within such a programme, academic support for National examinations, the B.G.C.S.E., B.J.C. and G.L.A.T., in addition to, organised social programmes such as athletics, speech competitions and debates, and cultural dance and many others will be emphasised.
He said the Government will also re-introduce The High School Diploma that will establish standards or benchmarks in student achievement and social development that reflect a high school graduate’s preparedness for the world of work, college or university. This year’s grade nine will likely be the first cohort to benefit from being awarded the diploma.
Efforts in restructuring BTVI to a four-year degreed tertiary institution will also continue. Mr. Fitzgerald said the expansion/restructuring of BTVI as an accredited institute to accommodate more advanced courses of study, leading to Bachelor degrees in varied aspects of Trade, is already underway.
“This year the Ministry of Education will continue to support this restructuring exercise. It is hoped that with improved training and instruction, BTVI will become the accredited trade school of choice for Bahamians,” Minister Fitzgerald said.
Efforts to transform the College of The Bahamas to The University of The Bahamas are ongoing.
“Every great city has an exceptional university and Nassau will be no different. The College of The Bahamas will become the University of The Bahamas. The government expects that this university will be the catalyst to generate more nationally based research and innovation, which will lead to more informed decisions and programmes,” Minister Fitzgerald added.