Archive for August 21st, 2014

Students pick up experience as government interns

| 21/08/2014 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Civil service bosses said that 90 young people who worked in more than a dozen government departments this summer picked up valuable experience which will help them in their future careers in the private sector as well as the public. With the civil servicefacing an uncertain future and a reduction in headcount it remains to be seen if there will be any jobs waiting for the young people when they finished their studies. However, Franz Manderson the civil service boss said what they learned in the myriad posts they undertook this summer will be useful regardless of where their careers take them.

“The work experience will have provided these young people with a meaningful insight into government services and the requirements of a dynamic public administration,” the Deputy Governor, Franz Manderson, said adding that what they learned in the few weeks they spent in government, “should provide invaluable knowledge and skills that will come in handy whether employed in the public or private sectors in the future.”

The programme which provided summer jobs to Caymanian students, who worked anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months, ran from 20 May and will end on 1 September

The young people were provided temporary jobs ranging from receptionist to office support assistant and computer technician. Others offered support services in public administration, engineering, medical and environmental health, as well as legal and child day care services, or shadowed senior officers at work.

Ranging in age from 16-25 years, the interns are studying a wide variety of subjects at overseas universities, local schools and colleges. One was also enrolled in the Passport2Success programme an employment ministry initiative which helps to better prepare unemployed persons for the job market and workplace. The group included scholarship and non-scholarship students.

Immigration, Computer Services, Education, Judicial Administration, Government Information Services, Legal and Public Works, as well as the Deputy Governor’s Office, Cabinet Office, Portfolio of the Civil Service, Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs and the Ministry of Health, Sports, Youth and Culture provided posts for the interns.

Gloria McField-Nixon, the portfolio of the civil service’s chief officer explained that for the  employers, the work experience provided human resources personnel with an idea of students’ potential employability should jobs become available.

Care was taken, she said, to ensure that the interns derived the most benefit possible from the programme, including slotting students into jobs that matched their areas of study. The aim was to build up their competencies and so boost their confidence, knowledge and skill levels, which would better translate into future job opportunities with government, the private sector or self-employment, McField-Nixon added.


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Parents warned not to make kids sick with lunchboxes

| 21/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Officials from the department of health are warning parents to take care when preparing their kids school meals and have issued a set of instructions to guard against making kids sick with poor food hygiene.  “It is important to keep our children safe from food-borne illness by following the recommended safety guidelines,” said, DEH Food Safety Officer Gideon Simms who told parents to keep food-preparation areas clean and to wash their hands with antibacterial soap and warm water before handling food among other instructions.

See food safety guidelines below

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Local football on the up and up, say officials

| 21/08/2014 | 6 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) has enjoyed a very positive year having hosted a number of youth development tournaments, seen investment in football infrastructure and an improvement in its financials which has allowed the association to increase the prize money given in the local football league and tournaments by 30%.   In the past year the Cayman Islands has hosted the inaugural CONCACAF Boys’ U-15, last August the CONCACAF Womens’ U-20 Championships in January. 2014 and the Girls’ U-15 just this month. It has also focused on developing grassroots youth football but officials said the programme needs more volunteer coaches to keep it going.

At the recent annual Congress CIFA President Jeffrey Webb, who is also the CONCACAFF president and FIFA Vice president highlighted positive improvements in the association’s financial statements, infrastructure upgrading, hosting of international competitions and player development.

“CIFA has made significant progress in the past twelve months, both on and off the field of play,” Webb said. “We have created several opportunities for our players and officials at every level and we continue to see the benefits from these investments.

“The investments in facilities development by the government has helped CIFA in bidding and successfully hosting CONCACAF competitions,” Webb added. He said, “The Championships have provided us the opportunity to engage new sponsors, solidify our long term relationships with Maples and Calder, DART and Foster’s and expand our revenue streams. As a result CIFA has rebounded from difficult financial times. We must remain on this upward trend.”

The clubs are the immediate beneficiaries from CIFA’s improving financial stature. CIFA has increased the prize money for the premier league by 30 percent and provided an additional bonus to clubs in good standing with the association.

Reigning Men’s Premier League winners Bodden Town FC received the winner’s cheque of seven thousand five hundred ($7,500) dollars. In 2015, the Premiership winners will receive ten thousand ($10,000) dollars.

With the objective of improving club participation and performance CIFA will also implement the CONCACAF Club Licensing program in the next twelve months with an aim of bringing local clubs in line with best practices regionally. The Club Licensing programme helps clubs improve their administrative structure and processes which CIFA hopes will impact the quality of play on the field.

In the past year CIFA has engineered a focus on youth player development through the Grassroots Programme. Programme Director Darrel Rankine reported that over 550 children registered in the programme in the last term February to June. Legal firm Maples and Calder sponsors programme, which targets 6-12 year olds and is centered on creating fun and engaging exercises that will encourage greater participation while introducing fundamental technical skills.

“We have made great strides this year, with a steady growth in numbers,” Rankine said, however he warned that the growth would be hampered if more qualified and interested coaches don’t become involved. “We need more young players and coaches interested to usher this next generation of football players into the future. Without good coaching we will not develop good players on the pitch and solid citizens off it.”

The new initiatives reported on at the congress are all part of CIFA’s overall strategic plan.  After months of consultation with stakeholders and the inclusion of recommendations from a task force that reviewed all leagues and competitions; the official strategic plan document was presented to the Congress by Mark Scotland, CIFA’s Youth Development Director.
The main objective of the strategic plan is to provide a road map for the sport’s development at all levels in the Cayman Islands.

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Cops hunt drug traffickers

| 21/08/2014 | 37 Comments

(CNS): Officers from the RCIPS are asking the public to help them hunt down three men involved in drug smuggling after they evaded officers during a drug bust Wednesday. Police said that the RCIPS was involved in a multi-agency operation between local law enforcement and the Jamaican authorities which resulted in a drug smuggling vessel being intercepted and seized on the beach in South Sound near the cemetery last night. An RCIPS spokesperson stated that two local residents were arrested and a significant but undisclosed amount of ganja was recovered, as well as a vehicle. However, threeother people believed to have been crew on the boat escaped the officers.

The men, who are understood to be foreign nationals, are now at large somewhere in the Cayman Islands and a manhunt is underway.

“The RCIPS is asking for the public’s assistance in reporting any suspicious or unusual activity that may assist in the capture of these three men, who will likely be in need of shelter, food and clothing,” said a police spokesperson. “Members of the public are reminded that it is an immigration offence to assist an individual to land or depart illegally from the Cayman Islands” the police added.

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Wild chicken gallery raises money for National Trust

| 21/08/2014 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Local chickens have become the stars in a satirical campaign launched by a local advertising and marketing agency to help raise money for the National Trust and promote what the owners claim is their witty approach to promotion. Massive Media has created the inviting people to name and ‘adopt’ one of Cayman’s famous wild chickens featured in an online gallery. Each time a chicken is named or the website is shared on social media the agency owners said they will make a donation to the National Trust up to a maximum of $1,000.

“We like to come up with unique ways of promoting our work by creating something fun for everyone to enjoy,” said Massive Media’s David Kirkaldy. “We are also keen to support our local community so we took the opportunity to partner with the National Trust for the Cayman Islands on this project. This is our second charitable project of the year following the creation of the Six4Hospice website and branding for Derek Haines fundraising marathons for Cayman HospiceCare,” he added.

Christina Pineda, Executive Director of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, pointed out the struggles the Trust has in order to raise the much needed cash and welcomed the help of Massive.

“Raising donations is a constant challenge for the National Trust and we are grateful for the innovative and entertaining project Massive Media has created to support us. The had us laughing out loud and we’d urge everyone to go and check it out and help raise the $1000.”

The project was also supported by local video production company, CML TV, which created the teaser campaign video free of charge.

Although Massive Media is covering the cost of all the adoption and social media donations people can make their own donation online at or at the National Trust Visitor Centre at 558 South Church Street in the front building of the Family Park.

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Orientation set for kids attending new schools

| 21/08/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS) Updated Thursday: All primary schools will be open for all students on Tuesday 26 August.Orientation at all government primary schools, which takes place the day before on Monday 25 August is for new students only and they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. (See updated attachment below). In the wake of significant concerns about behaviour in government schools among students, the ministry will be under the spotlight more than ever before this school year. Parents will also be watching closely to see what new policies will be implemented and how far the new minister will go with proposals to privatize the system. 

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Financial firm sues employee over leak

| 21/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Citco Trustees (Cayman) Limited is taking legal action against one of its employee. The financial firm claims the worker, who was employed as a trust and corporate officer had access to information which was confidential to the offshore firm and its customers. But in legal documents filed in the Cayman Islands Grand Court the company states that sometime in December last year and again last month Reynaldo Beluso posted confidential information about a client. The law suit doesn’t name the client or give details about what was posted or where it was published and has asked the court to keep the file closed. However, Citco is seeking unspecified damages from Beluso and an injunction restraining him from leaking any more information.

In the suit filed in the court by local attorneys Samson and McGrath on 1 August, Citco states that it has suffered loss and damage but the full particulars will be provided separately.

It appears that Beluso has not yet been fired from his post, despite the claim by his bosses that he has broken the agreed confidentiality arrangement that went with the job.

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Governor has no CIG card

| 21/08/2014 | 21 Comments

(CNS): As the scandal over the use of government credit card continues, an FOI request by CNS to all government entities has revealed so far that the governor does not have a credit card issued by the Cayman Islands Government. However, the Cayman tax payer still foots the bill for the UK representative’s entertainment and some of her travel bills, depending on her reason for travel. Officials from the governor’s office confirmed, however, that Helen Kilpatrick is following the new official travel policy when travelling on local government business and the FCO policy when the British government is funding her trips.

The office explained that Governor Helen Kilpatrick has a set budget for expenditure for her office and Government House but the governor very rarely incurs any extra local expenditure personally and would only do so if a VIP guest is visiting the Cayman Islands and a function is not hosted at Government House for logistical reasons.

A spokesperson said that this had happened no more than three times over the past several years.

As well as not having a government credit card, the governor does not have an expense account as official entertainment is for the most part conducted at Government House and costs are always kept within the budget allotted to hospitality for the specific financial year.
When the governor is required to travel on official Cayman Islands business, an official travel form is completed and approved by the chief financial officer overseeing the governor’s office budget and a per diem allowance, according to the official guidelines, is given.

Officials also confirmed that the governor’s office account has been audited periodically as part of those conducted under the Portfolio of Internal External Affairs and more recently since the changes to official ministries and portfolios under the Portfolio of the Civil Service.

The governor’s allocation for managing Government House falls under the budget for the head of the civil service under CIV 11. This year the running of the residence, the coordination of functions, as well as the administrative and accommodation costs for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff in the Governor’s Office amounted to $770,884, a fraction less than the 2013/14 budget, which was $788,739.

This is in addition to the salary and benefits paid to the governor, which is a figure not readily available. According to the most recent civil service pay scale guide from 2011, the governor’s earnings fall somewhere between $160,020 and $176,628 per annum plus pension and health benefits. However, Kilpatrick may be earning considerably more. According to UK records, when she left her post as Director General at the Home Office she was earning between £180,000 and 184,999 per year, equal to more than CI$250,000.

In the budget document for 2014/15 Kilpatrick’s pay is part of a budget allocation which covers the salaryand benefits of the Governor, the Premier, the Deputy Premier, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, all the Ministers, as well as Elected Members of the Legislative Assembly which totals over $3.25million.

See related story on CNS: Credit card scandal rolls on

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Caymanian killed in Panama jail house ‘accident’

| 21/08/2014 | 33 Comments

(CNS): The family of a local man killed in a Panama jail have hired a lawyer to look into the circumstances surrounding his death. Mark Bodden, who had been arrested in Panama on drug charges in 2011, was expected to return home to the Cayman Islands later this year but UK officials confirmed that he died on Monday afternoon. Bodden’s family told the local television news that they understood that the 37-year-old man had ‘fallen from his bunk’, lay bleeding after hitting his head on the floor, and then suffered several seizures before medics arrived hours after the alleged accident.

The British Embassy in Panama had notified the Cayman authorities of Bodden’s death but the circumstances had not been confirmed. The deputy governor said they were advised by the family that it was said to be accidental.

“We are now awaiting the results of the prison and police investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” he said in a statement.

Bodden’s family, who is now working to bring his body back to Cayman, told Cayman 27 they have hired a lawyer to find out exactly what happened to their loved one. 

At some point during his time in the Panama prison Bodden had access to a smart phone and posted pictures of the conditions inside the Central American jail on his Facebook page.

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Schools’ results celebrated

| 21/08/2014 | 29 Comments

(CNS): Preliminary results for this year’s external exams indicate that the Year 12 students have surpassed last year’s record breaking Level 2 pass rate, continuing the year-on-year improvements in standards, and while the final tally is not yet known, Year 11 pass rates have also bettered last year's. In addition, there has been a dramatic improvement in literacy and numeracy in primary schools, teachers were told by Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler at the Annual Education Professionals' Welcome on Wednesday. However, despite all the indications that the education system is on the right path, in her address to staff Education Minister Tara Rivers noted that both she and the ministry counsellor, who were both backed by the Coalition for Cayman (C4C) group, were still considering privatizing government schools.

Rivers noted that she and Winston Connolly were elected on the principle of public-private partnerships and were continuing to explore the possibility of adopting it in regards to public schools. The minister also announced that there are to be baseline inspections in every government school over the course of the next year.

Celebrating the continued upward trajectory of external exam results, CEO Shirley Wahler told teachers gathered at the Mary Miller Hall for the welcome back event that results for English Level 2 pass rate for the graduating students, “which were so spectacularly high last year”, are even higher, with a preliminary result of 68.5%.  But, she said, “the real story” was the mathematics results, which have jumped more than 9% over last year’s figures to 46.1%.  (See CNS article Numeracy focus in schools)

Pointing to the startling improvements in results in just two years (from 2011 to 2013) from 45% to 70% of students achieving five or more Level 2 passes, the CEO said that level of change took England 13 years to achieve. “The comparison to our Caribbean neighbours is even starker,” Wahler said, noting that the overall benchmark figure for the Caribbean region hovers around 22%. “And our journey is by no means over,” she added.

Before all the results are in, it appears that Year 11 students have once again done well in English and maths results “have shown a significant surge” over last year. For both Year 11 and Year 12 students, Wahler said, the new graduation requirements, which include academic and behaviour criteria, had a “pronounced influence”.

As well as a sustained year-on-year rise in high school results, Wahler said the percentage of Year 6 students who achieved National Curriculum Level 4 “shot up” this year.  Reading results were up 21%, writing results were up 13%, and maths results rose by 8%. 

“In real terms, this means that the standard of achievement in secondary schools can reasonably be expected to continue improving as well, with Year 7 students coming in with significantly higher levels of achievement than in past years.  All of this translates to continued and sustainable success,” the CEO said.

Dismissing “the relentless rhetoric” about Cayman’s “failing schools”, the CEO told teaching staff she was proud of them “and proud to give testimony today to the amazing results you have achieved and continue to achieve as you guide and develop our country’s most precious resource, its children.”

Looking back, Wahler said that for more than a decade before 2007 student results had been stagnant, with only about a quarter of students who finished high school achieving 5 or more O-Level passes. Going back further in time, she noted that the 1995 Annual Report for the Cayman Islands boasted about the historic high performance of students, when 25% of Year 12 students had gained 4 or more passes, “far outstripping the previous high point of 16%, and lauded as the best results in the Caribbean”.

However, she said that “visionary leaders who believed that we could do better, and who refused to remain complacent” spearheaded the turnaround. “It is through that leadership that the process of education reform was undertaken and sustained through successive administrations,” she said. Most importantly, the reforms were about “valuing every student as an individual who has a place in oursystem and offering opportunities for every child to succeed, not just a chosen few,” she added.

“It is important that our students know, that our parents know and that our community know and understand what you, our teachers, through the performance of your students, have achieved,” the teachers were told by their boss.

Turing to the issue of student behavior, an issue that has been the subject of considerable attention recently, she said that overcoming poor behavior would take hard and consistent work on the part of educators.  “It requires the engagement of every school and every teacher,” she said.

“But we cannot do this alone,” the chief education officer told teachers. “Every stakeholder in education, which means everyone in our wider community, has a part to play. Public education is a public good and our work serves not just today’s students but the country as a whole. This is a project for the entire community.” 

But she said the Department of Education Services would be publishing policies and procedures to provide clear and accessible guidance on how to submit and manage complaints and grievances “in a positive and mutually respectful manner that allows us to work together to improve our system. In this way, we create avenues for problems to be resolved in ways that move the system forward, model professional and productive behaviour and ensure that concerns are heard.”

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