Archive for August 6th, 2008

Governor backs Auditor General

| 06/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Governor Stuart Jack has issued a statement of support for Auditor General Dan Duguay following the publication of his report, The State of Financial Accountability Reporting, which states that he agrees with the Auditor General that audited financial statements are important for the accountability of government and hence for good governance.

The report, which found most government entities have fallen short in some way of the legal accounting requirements for reporting government spending as set out in the Public Management and Finance Law (PMFL).

“While there may have been reasons in the past, the present delays in finalising those statements cannot be allowed to continue. The Governor has carefully considered the issues raised in the Auditor General’s Special Report and has discussed them with the Financial Secretary,” the statement reads.

“The Governor welcomes the efforts now underway to resolve this issue. He is pleased that there will be hearings in the Public Accounts Committee. He expects Chief Officers and Chief Financial Officers of all government entities to give the highest priority to quick progress towards meeting the requirements of the law and of financial accountability to the Legislative Assembly, particularly the Public Accounts Committee and the public.”

 

Continue Reading

Cyclist seriously hurt

| 06/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A cyclist was seriously injured in a collision which occurred on North Church Street in the vicinity of Kirk’s Supermarket Tuesday night , 5 August. Following a 911 call at approximately 9:20 pm, police and medics attended and found that a 32-year-old man had been riding a bicycle towards West Bay when a collision occurred with a red Honda Civic driven by a 25-year-old woman which had been traveling in the same direction.

Police have reported that a cyclist was seriously injured in a collision which occurred on North Church Street in the vicinity of Kirk’s Supermarket Tuesday night , 5 August. The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at approximately 9:20 pm from a member of the public reporting that a car and a cyclist had collided. Police and medics attended and found that a 32-year-old man had been riding a bicycle towards West Bay when a collision occurred with a red Honda Civic driven by a 25-year-old woman which had been traveling in the same direction.

The man received serious head injuries and is currently in hospital where his condition is said to be critical. An investigation has begun by the Traffic Management Unit and officers are appealing for anyone who witnessed the collision to come forward. Anyone who can assist should contact the Traffic Management Unit on 946-6254 asking for Sergeant Ivan Wedderburn.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

Continue Reading

Police seek witnesses to armed robbery

| 06/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police investigating an armed robbery which took place on Friday, August 1, at Pet Pro’s on Crewe Road are appealing for anyone who visited the store between 4:30 pm and 5:15 pm to come forward. Enquiries have revealed that a number of people actually entered the store to make purchases while the robbers were there and that some, if not all, were either spoken to or assisted by them as they helped some customers load goodsinto their vehicles.

 Regular customers would not have recognised these men as staff members so frequent customers who attended on Friday should think about whether they saw unusual faces in the store, a press release said.

“We have found out that a number of customers would have seen these robbers in the store,” said DC Gustavo Rodriguez, who is leading the investigation. “You may think that you cannot help or that you have nothing of value to tell us, but what may seem insignificant to you could be vital to us.”

Anyone who attended the store is asked to contact DC Gustavo Rodriguez on 926-0767. The offenders made off with an undisclosed sum of cash after the lone female shop attendant was tied up in a rear office. An updated description of the suspects has also been obtained:

The first man is described as: 6ft to 6ft 2, slim build, brown skin, clean shaven, black eyes, thin lips, long nose but not large, well defined teeth. Aged in his late 20’s and wearing a round hat, green long sleeve shirt with buttons, dark blue jeans pants, and dark coloured shoes.

The second man is described as: Shorter; 5ft 5 to 5ft 6, slim build, brown skin slightly lighter than the first man, clean shaven, thick lips, buffed teeth, small nose. Aged in his early 20’s, and wearing a black mask rolled up on his head, long sleeve white shirt with buttons, long blue jeans pants and white sneakers.

A full area search was carried out following the robbery but the men were not located. Scenes of Crime Officers processed the scene and detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department are conducting enquiries. Anyone who thinks they saw the men, or has information about the robbery, is asked to contact DC Gustavo Rodriguez on 926-0767 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

Continue Reading

West Bay man arrested on ganja charge

| 06/08/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): A 25-year-old man from West Bay has been arrested by officers from the Drugs Task Force (DTF) after five and a half pounds of ganja was seized by the police during an operation carried out yesterday morning, Tuesday 5 August. Officers from DTF were joined by those from the K9 unit in a search of an address in Birch Tree Hill, West Bay. The man was arrested on suspicion of possession of ganja with intentto supply, possession of ganja and consumption of ganja and he remains in police custody.

The RCIPS said that it works hard to reduce the amount of illegal substances in circulation and encourages the community to work with them.  Those with information about illegal drug use or sales are asked to contact the Drugs Task Force on 949-7710, their local police station or their neighbourhood police officer.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

Continue Reading

Bridger calls on community

| 06/08/2008 | 2 Comments

(CNS): As the independent investigation into issues of corruption and misconduct within the RCIPS continues, Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger (left) said that there was still a need for more intelligence to help the team pursue their investigations. Bridger said that wherever the intelligence led he would be willing to follow, but it was important that people within the community and the police service itself continued to come forward to offer the kind of information that they could use.

As the independent investigation into issues of corruption and misconduct within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) continues, Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger (left) said that there was still a need for more intelligence to help the team pursue their investigations. Bridger said that wherever the intelligence led he would be willing to follow but it was important that people within the community and the police service itself continued to come forward to offer the kind of information that they could use.

“I believe that there are other people out there in the Cayman community that have potential evidence about other wrong doing, and I want them to come forward in the same way that others already have,” he said, explaining that the intelligence that he and his team had received so far was all being assessed and absorbed into their investigations.

“I really hope more people can come forwardand I encourage them to do so. While the overwhelming majority of officers in the RCIPS are good people, as with every police service everywhere in the world, there are always some who undermine the integrity of that service, and if the Caymanian people want a dependable and trustworthy police service they need to help us address the issues by coming forward and telling us what they know.”

Bridger said regardless of whom it is about or what the information and intelligence is, he and his team would pursue any credible intelligence in the utmost confidence and that the public could depend on his independence and ability to investigate unhindered. He said sometimes all the team need was to be pointed in the right direction to find the evidence they needed to pursue a line of enquiry.

“So far no one or anything has prevented our investigations from going where we believe they should,” Bridger said. “ I have not been and will not be told what I can or can’t investigate. No one has tried to stop me going where I need to go to find the evidence required and I have had a lot of support.”

Bridger was at pains to stress that his investigations is entirely independent and there was nothing to prevent him for pursuing any allegations no matter what the preconceived ideas of the community were. He also noted that anyone offering information that they honestly believed to be true would never end up on the wrong side of the law. “It is absurd to think that anyone who came to us with information that they believed to be true would end up in court. Anyone who honestly believes they have intelligence that could be related to wrongdoing within the police service is not breaking the law by coming to us, even if those allegations turn out to be entirely mistaken,” Bridger added.

With few avenues of recourse in the past, Bridger’s investigation is presenting a real opportunity to the public to pass on confidential information that they may have felt uncomfortable about divulging in the past to serving police officers. Bridger and his team are in the process of creating a channel by which the community can communicate with them about their concerns. Bridger has also offered a direct ‘Hotline’ to his own personal phone for anyone who has intelligence concerning issues of integrity or conduct within the RCIPS. “I have no problem with people calling me directly at anytime. The number is out there for people to use, and they can be confident that when it rings it will me that answers,” he said.

Bridger’s personal number is 927-2981.

He stressed that the investigation would only be a success if he could take it step by step, based on real evidence and not rumour or speculation. However, without evidence, he said, charges could not be brought against those who may have done wrong. Nevertheless, his team had already shown that with real evidence they could bring charges. Bridger added that because some people had the courage and the confidence to come forward with valuable information the team continued to work towards ensuring the RCIPS improved the service it gives to the people of the Cayman Islands.

Continue Reading

Dixon Faces Common Law Charges

| 06/08/2008 | 0 Comments

http://www.caycompass.com/newsimages/20080328_1_TOPdixonSTORY.jpg(CNS): When Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon appears in court this morning, 6 August, he will be facing four charges that relate to common law offences as oppose to offences under the penal code. Although more details are expected to be revealed in the court room today, Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger confirmed that the charges relate to offences concerning Dixon’s conduct and his role as a public official as opposed to criminal acts under the country’s penal code.

Dixon has been charged with two counts of misconduct in a public office and two counts of doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice.  The charges emerged as a result of an investigation that has been carried out by a team of detectives from the UK’s Metropolitan Police Force.

Since Dixon was first placed on required leave in March of this year and then subsequently arrested, speculation concerning the behaviour of the Deputy Commissioner has led to expectations in the community that there could well be serious charges of a criminal nature brought against him. However, so far Bridger has insisted that his investigation is not concerned with rumour and speculation but with evidence.

Bridger’s enquiry into the Royal Cayman Islands PoliceService began almost one year ago when a small team of undercover officers from Scotland Yard began an investigation as a result of allegations made by former MLA for the Sister Islands, and at the time Cayman Net News journalist, Lyndon Martin against Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis. The allegations suggested Ennis was engaged in a corrupt relationship with the publisher of Net News Desmond Seales. During the pursuit of that investigation Bridger and his team found the original allegations unfounded, but they discovered other areas of concern surrounding issues of integrity relating to police officers.

In March of this year, Governor Stuart Jack announced that Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, Deputy Commissioner Dixon and Chief Inspector John Jones were all being placed on required leave in order to facilitate the Scotland Yard investigation, which at that point was no longer covert. Both Kernohan and Jones remain suspended and neither man has yet been arrested. Bridger confirmed yesterday that Kernohan remains off island due to family circumstances and that Jones has now returned to Cayman. Bridger said the investigation concerning those two officers continues.

Martin was also subsequently charged with various offences in relation to the allegations he made against Ennis and is due to appear in court on Thursday, 21 August, for a Preliminary Inquiry hearing.
 

Continue Reading

Information Commissioner forms in mail boxes

| 06/08/2008 | 0 Comments

Nomination forms for Cayman’s first Information Commissioner were placed in all post boxes this week as part of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Unit’s nationwide drive to get people involved in the selection process.

“It is vitally important that people know the value and benefits of this officeholder. So while the Information Commissioner will be totally independent of the FOI Unit, we are spearheading the nomination and public education campaign to promote residents’ understanding,” explained FOI Coordinator Carole Excell. Accordingly, the nomination form doubles as an information sheet outlining the duties and powers of the Information Commissioner.

“We all must know that this is the person who will be guarding our FOI rights. I cannot overstate the importance of getting involved in choosing the Information Commissioner,” Mrs Excell said. Residents have until Friday 29 August to submit nominations. For those without a mail box, forms are available from the FOI Unit, Building D, Elizabethan Square, or can be downloaded at www.foi.gov.ky.
 

Continue Reading

West Bay man arested after drug search

| 06/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Drugs Task Force (DTF) arrested a 25-year-old man and seized five and a half pounds of ganja during an operation carried out Tuesday morning , 5 August. Officers from DTF and K9 carried out a search at an address in Birch Tree Hill, West Bay and arrested the man on suspicion of possession of ganja with intent to supply, possession of ganja and consumption of ganja. The man remains in police custody at this time.

According to a release from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS), police work hard to reduce the amount of illegal substances in circulation and encourage the community to work with them. Those with information about illegal drug use or sales are asked to contact the Drugs Task Force on 949-7710, their local police station or their neighbourhood police officer.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

Continue Reading

Technology in schools

| 06/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): When Students return to government schools in September, they will find the Cayman Islands’ education system rapidly catching up with available information and communications technology (ICT), a necessary step if it is to fully prepare Caymanian children for the ever-changing and technologically driven world in which they must live and work.

This is the second major attempt to integrate ICT into education here and much has, apparently, been learned from previous mistakes. In 2002, under the UDP administration, then Education Minister Roy Bodden launched ITALIC (Improving Teaching and Learning in the Cayman Islands) for government-funded schools.

This was an ambitious programme that ultimately achieved very limited success. However, a comprehensive review undertaken at the request of the Ministry in 2006 mapped out weaknesses in the initiative – basically, a roadmap of what not to do. It was an expensive learning curve. According to the review, at the end of March 2006 the total expenditure on the ITALIC project for a K-12 school population of 4,322 was estimated at 12 million Cayman dollars. The average expenditure per child per year between 2002 and 2006 came to CI$1,157, compared to CI$ 97 in the UK in the same time frame.

“This phenomenal expenditure on ICT in our schools should deliver extraordinary results for our students, not to mention world-class support service structure second to none! Unfortunately, neither of the claims can be made for the ITALIC project!” the report said. The review, it should be noted, was conducted by former UCCI President Dr Hassan Syed, who left the islands suddenly under a cloud of financial irregularities. However, according to the Education Ministry’s Chief Officer, Angela Martins, the report was based on solid data and the Ministry stands by the its findings.

Although Syed’s report listed some positive impacts, such as raising awareness of ICT, a lowering of student to computer ratios and a high percentage of teachers with laptops, criticisms of the programme in the 105-page report are relentless. It was particularly critical of the reliance on external consultants, as opposed to using and developing expertise within the education system, and the seemingly total lack of financial accountability. Technical support from the consultants, it appears, was woefully insufficient, the network was unstable, and oversight of the programme negligible. But the most damning criticism was that it did not achieve its fundamental objective.

“Although all the associated literature on the ITALIC program emphasized that teaching and learning, rather than technology, were at the heart of the initiative, in reality and especially as the system struggled to recover after Hurricane Ivan, the technology itself appeared, especially to end users, to become the main focus. Operations matters, rather than end-user concerns or teaching issues, dominated the agenda of the Steering Committee.”

As part of a complete overhaul of the entire education system taking place under the current Education Minister Alden McLaughlin, the concept of integrating ICT into the teaching of all subjects is being revamped. According to ICT Teaching and Learning Officer Mark Ray, this includes adding more interactive whiteboards (IWBs) to classrooms to the limited number already in active use, generally purchased through such means as corporate sponsorship or PTAs.

IWBs are already in extensive use in British schools, where a two-year study PDF to evaluate their use with Year 5 and Year 6 students found significant positive impact, concluding, “The observations confirm that there were significant differences in patterns of classroom interaction, both as the teachers learned to use the technology and a year later as IWBs became more embedded in literacy and mathematics lessons.”

There are several different brands to choose from, notably SmartBoard Promethean, and mimio. The first two are very similar in that they include an actual physical board, whereas mimio is an interactive kit that attaches toa standard dry erase board and converts it into an interactive board, says Ray. The latter is significantly cheaper – around US$700 as opposed to around $2,500 for a Promethean or a SmartBoard. What you pay for with the more expensive boards is bundled software that gives much greater functionality, enabling teachers to create interactive multimedia teaching and learning activities in minutes, or go to the brands’ own website and download a pre-created activity. The mimio, on the other hand, is portable and therefore might cut down on the number needed, and it utilizes existing equipment.

Initially, to keep costs down, the Ministry has plumped for the mimio brand and 50 will be installed across the schools system, incorporating existing projectors that will be installed on classroom ceilings with the help of Computer Services. The Ministry will be paying attention to feedback, says Ray, to decide which hardware to go with for the new schools coming online in two years. All teachers have received training on the use of IWBs, but this will be followed up with training in how to develop lessons. The appropriate use of technology in classrooms is encouraged and teachers tend to make use of it according to their comfort level and competence – which in some cases is extensively, Ray says, adding, “We want to get to where technology is no longer remarkable – it’s just like any other tool in the classroom.”

Technology in schools is, as the ITALIC report underscored, not much use without the appropriate support. So for the 2008-09 fiscal year there will be a systems administrator in each the DoES learning communities under the direction of ICT Manager Steven Durksen, whose job it is to keep the whole system running and maintain the educational software, servers, desktops, laptops, interactive whiteboards and other education technology.

“One of the biggest challenges is the stability of network,” he says. However, this will be improved as Cable and Wireless sets up a fibre network between all the schools and increases the bandwidth. Migrations of the school networks to a stable centralized new domain will continue and be completed during 08/09, and the core services will be delivered from a new data centre at Prospect Primary, which has its own generator and is considered the best location, notes Durksen. In addition, there is a back-up site at the Education Standards and Assessment Unit (ESAU) and data is replicated at each school.

All teachers will now have their own email. The pattern is: first initial and last name @ school abbreviation.edu.ky. So for example, John Smith who teaches at Cayman Brac High School will have the email jsmith@cbhs.edu.ky. The principals will continue to have firstname.lastname@gov.ky

The improved infrastructure enables the introduction of a new portal for students, launched at the end of the summer term, called Studywiz, an online space for teachers, students and parents to collaborate in the earning process. Come September every primary middle and high school student have their own log into http://caymanislands.studywiz.com/ , which will provide much more than websites for schools but will be a collaborative space for posting homework, blogs, discussion groups and downloading podcasts, says Durksen.
“Every year, we will be adding a number of computers in the classrooms, making sure there is equity among schools,” he says. Over 500 teachers have laptops, some a legacy of the ITALIC programme, with some of the older laptops having been refreshed. 165 new laptops have been purchased to replace oldest ones, says Durksen, emphasising that this was done by tender. (The ITALIC report noted concern over the lack ofclear documentation of public tendering of the project.)
Technology will also be used more effectively in administration to keep track of student data (such as achievement, attendance and behaviour) with the SIMS management information system (MIS), the most popular student MIS in the UK,which will be implemented across the Cayman system in September. The data, which will have various appropriate levels of access, will reveal, for example, trends in school performance and any particular problems, which will help indicate necessary intervention. In addition, it will keep track of the physical addresses of students – a valuable resource for planning new schools. And, as Durksen points out, the information collected from SIMS will provide a national database, from which national reports can be produced.

And while administrators worry over data, middle and junior primary students might be learning science, engineering, technology and math playing with Lego Robotics, or finding a video in their e-locker to use to produce a PowerPoint presentation for homework – a far cry from their parents’ school experience.

“The majority of teachers are enthusiastic and want to use technology; they generally see the benefits,” says Ray. “We have an ICT curriculum but it can be done in an integrated process with other subjects. We want to be able to use technology to engage students – which goes back to the SmartBoard. Teachers have to have an understanding of what’s available and what’s possible, and then get comfortable with that.”

What’s also needed, given the lessons learned, is continued openness from the Education Ministry in this and future administrations about costs, as well as fair assessments, which are then made public, about schools’ and students’ progress in the information age. However encouraging the signs of advancement in technology in our schools, the $12 million four-year failure can never be allowed to repeat itself.
 

Continue Reading