Minister achieves ambition

| 19/03/2009

(CNS): His long held and ambitious goal of completely overhauling the country’s education system was achieved this week when Minister Alden McLaughlin’s long awaited Education Modernisation bill was passed in the Legislative Assembly. Underpinning a number of policy changes that have already been implemented during his tenure as Education Minister, the bill addresses all areas of education and learning for young and old alike.

He said the fundamental overhaul of the system had been a long and challenging process but vital to the future of the Cayman Islands and one that had been put off for far too long. Presenting what he called the hallmark legislation to the House, McLaughlin said the far reaching systemic changes were long overdue and part of an overarching programme to deal with every aspect of teaching and learning, from early childhood education, compulsory school and tertiary learning. He said it liberated teachers and educators, put the unique individuality of children at the centre of learning and completely modernised the country’s education system.

“The existing education bill is more than 25 years old and was in desperate need of revision. This new legislation underpins many of the revolutionary changes that have already been made in education over the last four years,” he said, adding that it provided a brighter future founded on increased educational opportunities. “I fear for the future if we were to return to the disorder and mismanagement of the past. The future would be worse, not better, dimmer not brighter, literally as well as metaphorically.”

He asked voters to consider the criticisms from the opposition and from those candidates seeking political office in the forthcoming general elections against what he had already achieved and the plans for so much more, and to ask those would-be members what they would do instead.

Justifying all of the changes and explaining what he said was an overriding need for the new schools, he asked. “What did this minster do wrong with education?” He said the electorate should wonder if the policy changes would be carried forward in his wake or if they would be rolled back and dismantled to the problems of the past.

Speaking about the bill itself, he said it contained 16 parts which dealt with every aspect of the education system, from discipline issues and attendance to additional education for students with special needs, and career and technical education. Obvious changes include the introduction of an extra compulsory school year, the inclusion of non-government schools in the standards and assessments and their registration, the regulation of early childhood learning, the official prohibition of corporal punishment and the overall management of the education system.

The new legislation, he said, formed part of a much bigger picture that would see teaching and learning transformed and new opportunities created for the country’s children. Despite criticisms regarding the development of the new schools, McLaughlin said they were desperately needed not least because of the growing population.

“The stark reality is that the secondary intake for our schools will soon reach 400 per year,” he explained, adding that by 2011 there will be 398 children moving from government primary schools to the secondary schools and there would be more added to that from those children which came into the government system from the private and assisted schools sector. 

He said it would be a tragedy of enormous proportions if the country put into office people who did not understand the magnitude of issues concerning education. The minister said he was very happy that the second elected member for West Bay had offered his support to the legislations and would have been disappointed had he not, as he knew he also had an abiding concern for the future needs of our young people.

However, during the debate Rolston Anglin raised a number of concerns, in particular concerning the issue of an office that would take responsibility for ensuring children of compulsory age attend school. He also said he had concerns about the details surrounding technical and career education.

Anglin told CNS that although the new legislation provided  a framework to work from, there was still much to be done to the new law, and he said while he offered his qualified support he had a number of reservations. The UDP member said he would be awaiting the implementation of the planned regulations, which he said would be the meat on the bones of the law.

During the committee stage, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly raised her concerns that the minister was attempting to remove the mandatory obligation for schools to teach religious instruction by mandating a broad national curriculum in the law but not stipulating that it must include RI. “It may seem like my objection is trivial but I think this is a slap in the face to almighty God himself,” said the First Elected Member for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Despite the fact that the bill had been in circulation for comment for more than four months, the minister said the opposition had failed to turn up to debate the bill or ever seemed very interested in discussing its contents with him or his office. However, he was willing to offer an amendment that he hoped with address O’Connor’s concerns.

The amendment included added the word ‘religion’ to clause 15 sub-section 3 to read:

“The core and other foundation subjects shall include studies related to the history, culture and religion of the Islands ….” enshrining religious study in the curriculum.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    o my sweet lord! what a mess we are in!

    i mean come on! open your eyes……this man had four years ….FOUR YEARS to do something with his "title" rather than sitting down eating cassava cake with Kurt. ANd now because elections are right around the corner ,he jumps up off of his couch to pass a bill that he should of done FOUR YEARS ago!!!!!!!!! I know one thing i will never make the mistake and vote PPM. I personally spoke to this incompetent fool about problems in the school from a youth perspective and told him that i graduated in a class with FOURTEEN teenage mothers and all this man did was raise his two eyebrows shove his hands in his pockets and say "gzzz ..thats a lot"………and nothing was done about it! NOTHING!…..teenage pregnancy is touching topic but it appears to be too touchy for anyone to speak about@! in addition to that… all you people who are oh so sadly blinded by the PPM and their load of lies let me give you a heads up……knives were found at red bay primary school and they requested for security on the school grounds but instead were turned down …WHY? because government has no money!……GHHS can not have a graduation this year, after all the have worked for …..WHY? because government has no money!…..ME, a young caymanian went to look for a summer a job at the hospital to contribute to my future goal in becoming a doctor someday and was turned down along with countless others…..WHY?….because government has no money! and yet the younger generation is the future of our islands right?! now isnt that contridictory for ya?! and Kurt is going to stand on that stage and say "..people know where the money is going and how it is being spent?"…someone please tell me where its going and how it is being spent becasue the only answer i have is that ridiculous amout spent on Hero’s Day….! And whoever it is writing about the IGCSE and CXC and how it was a right move, needs to simply shut up……plain and simple the move was stupid! JGHS now does not offer Biology, CHemistry and Physics as indiviual courses but as a all in one CONDENSE course that offers the basics in each subject….Now doesn’t the future for our future doctor’s look bright?! this will only put them futher behind in learning about the each subject and will be sent into the world feeling like fools when they have to compete with other children from around the world…good luck!…..And finally on my rage, i am voting STRAIGHT UDP! and pray camymanians wake up and be the smart people i know we are and do the same.

  2. Chris Randall says:

    Leaving aside the politics and looking at the last four paragraphs of the above article:  If the proposed new constitution is approved by the voters, and subsequently adopted, this amendment will become null and void.  As I read it, it will then be unconstitutional for any child to be compelled to participate in a religious activity.

    • Anonymous says:

       "As I read it, it will then be unconstitutional for any child to be compelled to participate in a religious activity"

      Religious education is not "religious activity". It could, for example, include comparative religious study. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    The only vote that is a wasted vote is one that is not used.

    If you feel strongly for something, and an independent is the open person willing to take that stance, then a vote and the election of them will speak volumes to the parties who have ignored you.

    Anybody who says a vote cast is a wasted vote does not understand democracy, and probably doesn’t have the intelligence to put an x in the box.

  4. Anonymous says:

    O poey, the Brac has gotten more in the last four years than with the UDP. Of course – the lions run the Government and the lions have a lot of members who are from the Brac. Have a look see who is benefiting in the Brac. Not the average Bracker. So please speak what you know. The PPM has done it all for their own pockets. What a bunch of losers. GET OUT AND GOOD RIDENCE.

  5. Annoymous says:

    i supported the PPM until this mornign when I heard Austin Harris read the news on the Rooster Radio that the Government had just passed a bill or policy to reduce stamp duty for Seven Mile beach by 2% and 1% for all other areas.

    How incredibly stupid of the PPM Government adn whomever gave them this advice to do this.  I can only imagine it is these so called Realtors who have the interest of their rich clients at heart.

    In a recession you DO NOT GIVE TAX BREAKS TO THE RICH!!!  Complete idiots the PPM Government, they got swindled again by these realtors who couldn’t give a hoot about the people of the Cayman islands. 

    Can you tell me how many average Caymanians own a piece of Seven Mile Beach?  Not very many and if they do they were given status in the Mckeeva reign.

    Come on PPM how could you sell out your people and country at the last minute.  I hope that you loose all your seats in this election because you just gave the biggest tax break to the people who can afford to buy Seven Mile Beach properties and pay whatever stamp duty you impose on them.

    Give the Caymanians a break on the taxes not the rich foreigners.

    Sad times for my country when we keep selling ourselves to the rich foreigners……and the PPM thinks the UDP was bad for this country they have done no better.


  6. Owen says:

    PPM is a waste of time. It is so simple! I can’t wait to vote them out. Vote out the PPM. Yipeee.

    • Anonymous says:

      "PPM is a waste of time. It is so simple! I can’t wait to vote them out. Vote out the PPM. Yipeee."

      What a vacuous post.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What kind of headine is that? how can a minister "achieve longtime ambition" just because he maanged to squeeze through an education bill just 2 months before the elections? what about all the other failures in education? does passsing a single bill solve all the neglect on the education curriculm amd teachers since 2005? does it address the fact that despite spending millions, we have nothing to show. no buildings completed. no published high school results since 2007. low moral among teachers. lets get serious….where is the actual result here? a peice of legisaltion that should have been passed in 2006?

    This guy is not only arrogant. but the truth is he has no true performance to show for his attitude. 

    If he had done something for education aside from organising 2 conferences and passing a bill I would vote for him tommorow. But without any results to show or any visible performance. I cannot and will not do that on May 20th.

    I heard that he is planning on promoting the work of his ministry heavily. we should watch that closely. if the ministry abuses its resources for election purposes under the guise of promoting the work of the ministry, we must expose the PPM on that one. After all if they have to cancel a high school graduation due to lack of funding, how can they afford to pay for extra marketing and promotional services leading up to elections day?

    Lets watch that space.


  8. Anonymous says:

    Alden inviting Rolston to switch parties maybe is a good thing. Have him replace Chuckee. Talk about a young inteligent Caymanian wasting their years just being a follower, the PPM is doing it too. Chuckee has Gloria Mcfield more twisted the yarn. At least Rolston isn’t on every flight or pee pee cluck cluck behind Mac. Maybe UDP should invite her over to join them.I Will vote independant.

  9. Anonymous says:

    if there is one thing this man has done was actually focused on education. why don’t you all look back four years ago prior to his taking over this ministry. His predecessor a supposedly advocate of higher education did absolutely nothing to progress education. He had ownership given to him by the UDP and education was in the doldrums. Ask any teacher and i am sure they will agree that when alden came into the picture the ‘relaxed, it can wait til tomorrow attitude’, disappeared. Give mr mclaughlin a break. he is only trying to get our children to think above average. that is the damn problem with this country, we are so small minded that all we see is politics or hell bent on emotions that no one takes the time to look at the evidence. Look at what this man has achieved or at least has aspired to achieve for the country. This is not about alden, the picture is much bigger, its about the overall benefit to generations of children to come. how can you simply ignore this.   

  10. Anonymous says:

    Clearly the parties are having their croonies post stuff here because I can tell you that the MAJORITY of people are NOT for either party. They will not vote straight but will pick the people they are comfortable with and some are independents.

    To say that independents cannot convince someone to run with them is a crock of you know what. They are representing the people and not concerned with the friendship circle you need to maintain within parties. I say that’s the right way to go.

    I will never vote straight.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Can we get something in this legislation that will make sure Caymanian children are taught why they don’t need a real bill of rights intheir constitution?

    • Anonymous says:

      Our draft Constitution does have a real Bill of Rights, better than the UK Human Rights Act. Our children are smart enough to understand the issues even if you aren’t.    

  12. Anonymous says:

    The Party Agreement

    There was a rumour that both parties were concerned that neither might get the majority and that they had already set up the possiblility to have members from either side switch to make up the Government. A sort of chess game with the voters and each other.

    Mr. McLaughlin’s remarks regarding Rolston Anglin clearly indicates that there maybe some truth to this rumor. I understand Rolston Anglin and Scotland may switch to PPM. So would Arden, Moses and Anthony Eden switch to UDP.  Ezzard seems to be UDP all the way.

    I will vote for Independents this time…not all however as some are really party members in disguise. I urge all Caymanians to think really hard before voting for someone. Vote for those that are educated and can make a difference not just those looking for a job or planning to vote with the party.

    Show the parties in 2009 that Cayman is fed up with their politrics. Vote out the parties.



    • Anonymous says:

      Independents a wasted vote!

      What exactly can independents do? who will they work with if elected? All independents do is pull in every different direction – remember the 80’s – It takes 8 votes in the LA to get anything done. What really can an independent do?

      I won’t be wasting my vote – I am voting UDP straight.

      • Anonymous says:

        "I won’t be wasting my vote – I am voting UDP straight."

        That will be wasting your vote.

        Independents can allow the voice of the people (instead of the voice of the party) to be heard. They can do a lot where neither party has the majority they need. Anyone remember Capt. Mabry? 

        However, be careful, some so-called independents are not really independent they are hiding their true colours which will come out if elected. Mr. Miller in NS is not really independent but UDP. Check out John McLean Jr. in EE. Also checkout Theresa Pitcairn in Bodden Town. Whereever the UDP does not have a full declared slate they have floated an ‘independent’.  Pretty cunning.

        • Anonymous says:

          Independents are a joke!

          I agree  – voting for independents is a waste of your vote.

          All of the so called independents are nothing more that PPM or UDP in disguise. I say vote UDP straight.

          Why vote for someone that can’t even convince others to run with him (or her)?

        • Anonymous says:

          See: Moses Kirkconnell

          The people in Cayman Brac voted for an Independent and the day after elections he joined the PPM; that is what independents have to do – join a party the day after elecfions.

          Vote UDP, or suffer another 4 years of PPM

          • Anonymous says:

            But because of this move Cayman Brac has gotten much more in the last 3plus years than in the UDP years. UDP already tried to ruin Cayman by giving away status with NO controls or checks. Prostitues, con-men & criminals alike got status. What would UDP do if given another chance? Could be the the UK would have to suspend the constitution here as well! UDP not worth the risk.

            • Anonymous says:

              Choose the candidates that you trust, personally. That to me is the only way to feel good when you leave the booth. I support UDP, however, it still and always will be my decison at the end of the day, to put the x where I want…This is NOT an advanced party system…Call it what you you want, but as far as I can tell it’s still "teams", so vote your heart…. Big Moses was "independent", remember? He joined PPM right ater election…Thats a true case of going where the wind blows. as I know from personal experience, up till election day, he was trying to broker a deal with UDP to C his A. My point is this….If you vote independent, fine but you better trust that that  your candidate has the fortitude and the conviction to resist outside forces and remain true to himself. I, for one am very disappointed in Moses, I only ask ed for his help once, in 25 years and he  turned his back on me. I could never have anticipated this, but it happened, as soon as he joined PPM. When I called him again , he scolded me as if I was a child…Thanks, Moses, I really thought you were better than that.. My kids send thier love.

  13. Mind your Business says:

    Minister McLaughlin, a small first step, hopefully in the right direction, to right the wrongs which have been done to the education system over the past 20 odd years by succesive Education Ministers and at least the previous two Chief Education Officers.

    The new schools will go a long way to helping but I encourage you to make more of an effort towards addressing the issues of spcae and numbers at the primary school level also. The George Town Primary redevelopment is extremely critical.

    I would also hope that you would address some of management issues that have been allowed to fester over the years. Unqualified, inexperienced and in some cases grossly incompetent persons have been placed in charge of many of our schools. A much needed strong male infulence in the classrooms and in management has been slowly declining. 

    A decision was made many years ago to not allow expatriate children to attend public schools, this not only removed some the element of competition for the Caymanian students, it drove up the cost of Private schooling immensely which has now priced many Caymanians out of the market. CXC exams replaced GCSE exams, why? As much as we are in the Caribbean and very much a part of it, we are significantly different than the other islands, have different industries, etc. Surely there is a better option. Unless we want to be third world of course.

    We have driven out so many of our good teachers, both local and expatriate, by failing to support them.

    I believe it was around 1990 when the first security guards were implemented at the then Cayman Islands High School, society in general has been fallen so far since then. A previous poster mentioned the trouble areas in that school and I want them to know that this is nothing new. As far back as 1990 and I am quite sure before that, there was the "Savannah tree" right next to the office which housed many stolen bicyles in its branches, the "drug tree" where you could get your weed in the middle of the art block, of course "the wall" and "the cistern" who regularly met to fight each other outside the cinema on a Friday night, for no apparent reason.

    So thank you Miniser McLaughlin for caring, I certianly hope you are succeful in your attempts. Yes, you do come across as arrogant sometimes but in all honesty, in order to get things done, you often have to be.


    • Anonymous says:

      A previous writer, in reply to the article on the Education Bill, question why CXC replaced GCSE.  My question is, why not?  How much do you know about the content, range or quality of CXC exams?  Do you have any authority to suggest that CXC exams do not meet the needs of the Cayman Students?  What industries do you refer to when you say that Cayman is different from the other countries?  Do you mean Tourism and Finance?  Well, perhaps you are refering to Finance, but how much do you know about curriculum requirements at the secondary level to support the Finance industry?  Are we referring to Business Studies, Accounting, Mathematics, Information Technology?  Last time I checked, CXC still offers these subjects.  FYI, CXC exams have not replaced GCSE exams.  There is just now a good mix which caters for the various learning needs of our children.  CXC exams are regionally and internationally recognized and accepted as much as is GCSE.   I think the time has come for all of us to look beyond our prejudices, refrain from discrimination on the grounds of race and nationality and live together as one people in a global community. The keynote speaker for the most recent education conference was the Registrar for CXC.  I am sure he was invited by the education officials and not by himself.  Past conferences incorporated Caribbean scholars as well as north Amercian experts. The truth is that whether it be CXC or GCSE, British, American, Canadian or Caribbean teachers, there are merits to a wonderful mix of talent and culture, a benefit for the Cayman people.  Many want to totally eliminate the Caribbean perspective.  Why?  I would suggest that until one can physically move the island into the UK or North America, the Cayman Islands still remains a unique member of the wonderful group of Caribbean Islands.

      • Mind Your Business says:

        You are right, perhaps   should have been more clear. The CXC exams replaced SOME of the GCSE exam subjects. The decision at the time was left up to the Heads and staffs of the individual subject Departments, I believe. I am simply not a fan, as is my right. There is nothing racial ordiscriminatory about that. You can’t have it both ways as many would like.

        The mish mash of external exams offered is further evidence of the piece piece, patch together Education System that has been allowed to continue for far too long.

        Your defence of the CXC is admirable, I am not suggesting that the GCSE is in fact the perfect answer or that there is in fact anything wrong with the CXC, I am  merely asking the question as to where it all started to go wrong and how we can go about starting to fix it. I feel this is one of the areas which should be addressed.

        I certainly don’t think the new National Curriculum, copied almost word for word from a now outdated UK one is necessarily the answer either.

        Also, do bear in mind, like it or not, the Cayman Islands is still a British Overseas Territory.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Caymanian children are massively under achieving for a number of reasons.Some, unfortunately, lack any parental support at home.  When this is compounded with government officials obsessed with their own personal gain rather than lifting the Caymanian children up and the staggering percentage of teachers hired from one island in particular .  They are more interested in securing academic success for their own and implementing their own culture rather than learning and respecting ours.  What do you expect?

  15. Albert Jackson says:

    Change the entire government to what? Mac? WE need new leadership not a puppet master.

    • Anonymous says:

      IF NOT Mac as leader, than who?? Thats what the voters need to know upfront to make their decision. Is PPM endorsing KURT as leader? Because I cannot support that. Nice guy , fun to drink beer with, yes, but he has let his party run amok, doesn’t have what it takes to LEAD, Bobo.

  16. CaymanLeamon says:


    "Complete overhaul of the country’s education system????"


    That’s how I would describe it, and I think most parents and students would agree.

  17. Concerned about education says:

    Unfair criticism

    Reagrdless of individual feelings about political parties it is unfair to suggest that because it is election time that this was the only reason this bill was tabled. McLaughlin has been working on this bill since the  day he took office and creating policy for it that has already been implemented.

    The education level of any country is fundamental to its success and Cayman will never be able to address the issue of massive foreign labour unless it attains far, far higher standards of education than is apprent now. This is a good bill,put togeter by a minister who genuinely beleives in the future of his country and its young people. It is modern and progressive. Currently Cayamn’s children are massively under acheiveing this law will help to change that situaiton and create as he says a brighter future for Caymanians.

    Whether people like Alden or not is irrelevant there is nothing disingenuous about this bill. It is very good and delivered with integrity

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank ‘concerned about education’. People become so partisan around election time that they can’t see or think straight. if Anglin has a bill to protect children at the last moment it is hailed as a wonderful thing, but if McLaughlin does it is trying to trick the people.

      Obviously there is no bill that ever passes it which the politician introducing it can take sole credit. That should go without saying. 

  18. Anonymous says:

    School Gangs however….

     Everyone knows of the sad situation at John Gray where the entire campus is divided into "turfs". One area for West Bay (the science block), one area for East End, (parking lot area), etc, etc.

    Alden, who would have had first hand knowledge of this situation from his Sister and others, has failed to make the school campuses safer for the students. He has failed to deal with the overcrowding at the canteen, has failed to ensure students actually learn rather than just "passing through" school.

    Now on the 11th hour He finally gets through another shamelessly vote-seeking law, leaving the real problems untouched. I will give him one credit…he has had to lead the Government from behind the LOGB and that must have kept him very busy when he was not at his other activities. It is time for a change George Town.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Poor, poor man…his feet are in quick sand and he is sinking fast. Poor little fellow.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Alden is arrogant!

    Alden believes he is the smartest person in the world.

  21. Elizabeth Nigel says:

    I think this is an excellent start, however I do not believe that Alden sould use this as another opportunity to try to gain a vote in. Obviously he did not do this work himself! This was the effort of many qualified and devotedteachers and education specialists that put this bill together and it will be their efforts and duty to carry it out. And since this has seems to have approval on both sides then Alden doesn’t need to worry that it will be "rolled back and dismantled to the problems of the past."

    I will give him his credit for putting these people to work on this very important issue. However, this is not going to do us any good when our children have no place or jobs to turn because HE allowed our Financial Industry and Chuckie allowed our Tourism Industry to burn to the ground! So please do not allow this to make you think that things will only flourish under his/their rule, as they have shown us……it is the worst it has EVER been and will only continue to get worse!

    change this ENTIRE government!

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree this  the PPM plow. They are trying to make you believe in what they are doing now so you can forget where they put us. Why was all these things that are good like this education bill only coming out now when its time for elections. I think that if we put the likes of Alden, Kurt Tibbits and Chukie back in house we will be putting this country in more problems. 

      Please do the right thing and vote no to this constitution and vote out the current government on May 21st. Lets take the time to put in a good constitution and not one that is rushed because the CMA, Alden and Kurt what to make a mark in history….