Education law not ready

| 27/07/2009

(CNS): Although the new Education Law which was passed in the Legislative Assembly in March of this year was suppose to be effective from 1 September 2009, the UDP government has said that it will be advising the governor that its implementation will be delayed. Education Minister Rolston Anglin said that, given the magnitude of the work needed to implement the law, the September date was far too ambitious. Speaking at the government press briefing on Thursday, 23 July, Anglin said it was a framework legislation that needed regulation to ensure that the details in the law were properly executed.

Despite the fact that the previous minister, Alden McLaughlin, had said at the time the law was passed that many of the policy elements within it were already being implemented by the Department of Education Services, Anglin said there was still a wide range of issues with which professionals and education staff had to be consulted.

“We have a professional standards council and that requires us as a responsible government to ensure those standards receive the necessary thought and consultation,” he added. “With the required underpinning of regulations it is practically impossible to meet the September deadline."

He also said there were issues that had been raised by him when he was in opposition at the time the law was passed by the previous government regarding how truancy issues would be dealt with under the law. From a policy standpoint, he said he may well wish to change the law to enable greater accountability on truancy.

Anglin also spoke more about the situation with the school development projects and noted that he had recently been informed that the new buildings may not even provide enough space for the projected 2000 students that the schools were supposedly built for. The minster described the schools as monuments to excess, and said the People’s Progressive Movement had been irresponsible in the management of the projects and left a crippling financial drain on the country’s resources.

“We needed schools. But did we need schools that will cost us well over $117,573,219.00 in construction costs?” he asked. “Over 10.5 million has been spent on auxiliary costs so far. These are just the hard costs. And then there are the costs we do not know because they have not been quantified: the millions that will be needed for furniture and fittings, maintenance and staffing.”

He again lamented the cost of the kitchen facilities, for which the equipment alone is estimated at $750,000 for each school, and he said although a state-of-the-art "demonstration kitchen" was included, the DoES now says these facilities will not provide them with the stoves and other basic equipment they need to teach home economics and food and catering courses.

“These are the types of excesses you get when you don’t establish a budget, but tell designers and architects to build to meet your "educational vision", a vision of the "future" I am told,” Anglin said.

He noted that the academy concept or school within a school concept was a major contributor to the costs of the new schools. Anglin said that having small groups of students taught together was desirable but he said that the cost was prohibitive.

“Many countries and many of our private schools are not only able to cope with students in numbers greater than 250, but outstrip us time and again in student performance should have been a reality check,” the minister stated.

He said that professionals from within the construction industry have now joined with the project team to look at opportunities for containing or reducing costs but he said there were limits given the stage at which the construction had reached. “We have recently met with the contractors and have presented a cost savings proposal,” Anglin added and the ministry has negotiated a way forward to resolve outstanding claims through conciliation and mediation processes.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I would like to hear from those people in the trenches the teachers students counsellors etc.. We have always had a very poor success rate in our schools and it is ironically getting worse in terms of those that are unable to read write etc. When I went to school the pass rate of 5 or more O’levels was in 20% range but you had a slew of students from the lower sets who had command of the basic reading and arithmetic skills. Now 20+ years later it is still lingering around the 20% range but now  fewer students have command of the basic skills?? So something is clearly not right.

    I believe the current minister is going to take a very thorough review of this law to ensure that it will achieve the purpose it is intended for. The previous minister was an egomaniac and out of touch with reality so I think it is prudent to thoroughlyreview any new laws before our problems are compounded rather than remedied. It is then our job as the general public to put the pressure on this new minister not to completely shelve this bill and put it out of sight out of mind. Now we need to keep this issue in the limelight so that he has no choice but to address it.

    A question that has been bugging me. In terms of the curriculum that is being taught is there some form of Caymanian history taught at all levels and throughout all schools in these islands?? I find there is an overwhelming number of our adults and children who have no idea about who we are as a people. To be perfectly honest the basics I learned was from primary school. I do not remember anything in middle or high school??? My geography class was on the the other islands and my history class was focussed more on the kings and queens of England….I even remember having a VERY difficult time finding maps atlasses with Cayman on it…… This is critical to our development as a people!!!!

    Has this changed??ie are we now teaching about OUR history and OUR culture and OUR people???

    CNS: The National Curriculum can be found here.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Postponing the Education Law is the WORST thing to have done to our young people.  Finally, after the drafts of this law was shelved by the government in power in 2002 (you dear reader can figure that out I’m sure), it was finally resurrected and implemented. 

    The amount of students in our schools with difficulties in learning  would blow your mind.  Newest research is stating that many prisoners, particularly those who have histories of poor behaviour in school are actually people with diagnosable special needs (i.e. dyslexia, reading difficulties, language disorders etc.) – they do not get the help they need and their way of buffering themselves is through poor behaviour (how many of our young people in the alternative education unit, or those who spend their days in detentions all day long can this apply to?).

    This law finally enabled these students, and others with more pressing educational needs to receive the help they need BY LAW.  Now…what are we to do? I pray for our government school children, for they are the ones who will suffer – with no (and I say no, because what is presently in place is INADEQUATE) legislation to protect their educational rights, they will be the ones who struggle through school and will continually struggle through adult life. 


  3. Anonymous says:

    Ok people…I am reading the comments. What do the citizens need to do to get the leaders to take REAL actions (I don’t care if it’s PPM or UDP)? It doesn’t seem an election fixes any of the problems.

    I have never seen a protest here…is it time? Do we have our children take U.S. SAT scores to see how they compare? Or are we just going to complain more and more about how ineffective our leaders are?

  4. Anonymous says:

    is it just me or is UDP delaying/cancelling everything PPM started?

    • Anonymous says:

      The only thing the PPM started was placing Cayman down a slippery slope of debt starting with $74M.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is truly a shame but not surprising.  Any idiot can see that the current education system is failing our kids but rather than moving forward here is the UDP playing politics again.  And perhaps if the UDP Government and previous Governments had done something, anything, about education during their tenures we would not be in this situation of trying to play catch-up with the rest of the world.  Now we have an esteemed LoGB that has no regard for education.  He’s done well for himself without any so this is probably just the first in a series of delays for what would have been the first real education reform in this country’s history.  xxxxxxxxx Most kids will only be able to take up the lower level positions that inward investors consider native Caymanians suitable for to keep their numbers up and for photo opp’s.  At the same time their kids will all be educated at boarding schools overseas. Nice.

  6. Me says:

    I’m saddened to read that the law is being delayed. Education reform has been sorely needed for decades and Alden will be praised for his efforts in the future. I just hope delayed doesn’t mean cancelled.

    • Anonymous says:

      Alden needs to follow Edna Moyle’s example and retire before the people have to vote him out.


  7. VIctor Hugo says:

    "An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise." – Victor Hugo

    Your little Cayman is on a collision course with reality. You have 600 high school graduates coming out of school every year. The quality of the education they receive is suspect due to a true transparency in government about the standards that are used in their lesson plans. I won’t even get into the 6,000 year-old Earth stuff of how jesus rode dinosaurs to work nonsense. So we have a bunch of high schoolers who take school about as seriously as they do abstinence. Then they can get out at 16?  Lots of good opportunities for a 16-year-old Caymanian.

    Then these kids get out of high school and out of 600 only 125-135 can go to college on island? The ten year projection ratio for college educated Caymanians versus high school educated ones does not look too good people. You think you have crime now, watch out. Your government has done nothing for the youth and they will revolt. But not with signs and chants. With crack-cocaine, guns, illiteracy, theft, loitering and prison time. And why not, you spank your kids with paddles when they are biologically grown men. Cram down your old school ways in a new world order and you’ll reap what you sow in good time.

    A strong healthy democratic society must have educated people in the majority or close to it. Or is it that the UDP are truly afraid of an educated society who would cause furious outrage and the back-room-dealings of the LA? Lose the election and your family gets a nice little government paid contract. Fair is fair. People have brought up the word dictator from time to time and it should usually be dismissed or taken with a grain of salt. But now, the debate is going the way of an authoritarian tone from McKeeva. His way or the highway. Its as if the man is reading from Karl Rove’s master playbook, pander to religious right wingers and leave the rest behind.

    And is no one astonished that for an island as small as Cayman the MLA’s make more than United States senators? When you factor in the fact they are paying no income tax its closer to twice that. How insane??? I mean where is the anger from the natives? I’ve met and befriended many and there isa somber reality that many who "came by pain" have surrended the possibilty of change for the better. The country has a debt load that would astonish most major cities in the US or UK or anywhere else, but there is almost no public outrage. People need to take a cue from the Houndurans who needed to get home so they marched to the LA and at least they were heard. Cayman, your giving up your entire future by killing laws like this.

    Alden may be full of his own sheesh from time to time. The schools did not need to be so expensive. University buildings don’t cost as much, but where the hell was the UDP then? Cowards. But I still think there is hardly an educator out there who wouldn’t say that the education law is a much needed first step to getCayman out of the doldrums. Is there not a brave one among you left who will dare to be a true voice of the people and demand your human right to a proper education if the government can afford it? And they certainly can. Their range rovers are your school books. The MLA’s and all you civil servants are what we call in Texas, drilling on a dry well. Be wary Cayman. What will your streets look like in 2019? Think Flint, Michigan.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Legislation which seeks to provide world class education for Caymanians will never be popular with any government which is completely reliant on the votes of the easily misled.

  9. anonymous says:

    One of these days our previous Minister of Education will be praised for his foresight in such an ambitious project….just hope that he’s alive to witness it.  Our future educated generations of Caymanians will be able to think critically and understand the importance of what he has done! Unfortunately, at this time many are too busy with their own ambitions to promote themselves forward and will do so at any cost. 

    Anglin said that having small groups of students taught together was desirable but he said that the cost was prohibitive.’  It this is what is desirable for our children then that is what we should give them….if we (UDP Government) can spend millions on Boatswain Beach we must can find a way to give our children the very best educational facilities.

    ‘The PPM should be never be allowed to do this to our country again.’  We can always find ways to pay off our debt….the economic crisis is not here to stay.  However, what the UDP did to us will stay forever….mass status grants….I’m sorry but that is not something we can ever forget and the UDP should have never been allowed to be in a position to do this to our Country again…but here we are! Once again waiting for the UDP to play with our immigration policies and finish off what they started.

    • Anonymous says:

      One of these days our previous education minister will have to explain why so much money was spent on these schools.

      Alden was disastrous as a Minister – his best contribution to the country was as a back bencher

  10. Anonymous says:

    My goodness, it appears that the previous minister of education simply wanted to build himself a monument.  Such arrogance is beyond forgiveness.  I really hope our children end up being able to actually use these schools before the country goes broke.  The PPM should be never be allowed to do this to our country again.