Countdown to opening of 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers

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The Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, (centre) is pictured along with Lionel Sands, Director of Education (left) and Donella Bodie, Permanent Secretary. (BIS photo/Letisha Henderson)
The Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, (centre) is pictured along with Lionel Sands, Director of Education (left) and Donella Bodie, Permanent Secretary. (BIS photo/Letisha Henderson)

Nassau, The Bahamas — In less than five days, hundreds of youth, teachers, and stakeholders along with Education leaders from about 50 countries in the Commonwealth and five countries in the region will converge at Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island for the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (19CCEM).

The five day conference will take place from Monday, June 22 to Friday, June 26, and is being jointly organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Government of The Bahamas through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The theme for the 19CCEM is “Quality Education for Equitable Development: Performance, Paths and Productivity”.

During a press-conference on Wednesday, June 17, at the headquarters of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology said The Bahamas will be “the centre of intellectual discussion” when Commonwealth and Global Education leaders assemble for the triennial event which is regarded as the second most important Commonwealth meeting after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

In addition to the principal ministerial meeting, several other meetings and events will take place during the course of the five days including the Senior Officials’ Meeting, the Teachers’ Forum, the Youth Forum and the Stakeholders’ Forum.

Minister Fitzgerald described the conference as “historical” as it takes place at the twilight of the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All Goals and on the dawn of the Post-2015 Education Agenda.

“There is a global focus on education and each country is seeking new and innovative strategies to meet the educational needs of its citizens. This is perhaps the most important conference for the Commonwealth as collectively.”

Quoting Deodat Maharaj, the Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General, Minister Fitzgerald said, “We tackle the tough challenges facing governments in providing quality education and employable skills for young people.”

The Minister explained that over the course of the five day period, leaders will seek ways to build on the work of the 18CCEM Ministerial Working Group on the Post-2015 Agenda. “We will propose educational goals that will cover the gamut of the education spectrum; from preschool to tertiary education.”

The conference will feature an array of local and international speakers who will address topics including the financing of education in challenging times; the underachievement of males in education and educational paths for individuals who have not benefitted from formal school training.

At the end of this conference, Minister Fitzgerald said it is hope that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology will be better poised to address the challenges that face the country’s education system. “We must, and we can create a model that the world seeks to replicate. We have a lot of things right, but we know that things must always be improved and enhanced. Only well performing education systems can contribute towards gains in overall productivity. Functional education, that is knowledge and skills will enable young people to operate in a society; advancing economic growth and development through learning are keys issues and challenges for most Commonwealth development countries.”

John Darville, Technical Officer in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and chairperson of the Youth Forum, expressed excitement about the number of social media platforms that will be provided for the 19CCEM. He encouraged young people to take advantage of the opportunities that will be available to post photographs and comments using Twitter and Facebook.

Reginald Saunders, chairperson of the Stakeholders’ Forum highlighted the “exciting” programmes that have been planned for delegates attending this forum. He said it is expected that the results of the discussions will be used to provide information on changes in education.

Persons interested in attending the Stakeholders’ Forum can still register by calling The Counsellors.

Information on the 19CCEM is available at www.bahamas.gov.bs/19ccem or the 19th CCEM Facebook page, any of the Ministry of Education’s social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

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