“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” — Nelson Mandela

One of the OBA’s pre-election promises was to implement the Hopkins’s report recommendation to “Provide greater autonomy at the school level by creating local school boards for each school.”  

OBA’s revised post-election proposal?  

Drop the promise to implement boards and replace it with a Memorandum of Understanding outlining a commitment to improve communication with PTAs.  

We have not forgotten the vague OBA promise to the unions in their MOU not to cut the size of the civil service. Apparently a MOU it isn’t much of a promise. 

Parents that lead the original protest regarding the involuntary transfers of its principal in the Supreme Court last year are vehemently opposed to this. Victor Scott Primary School PTA head Azuhaa Coleman said: “As a tax payer, I feel cheated. Having a board of governors allows PTAs to be consulted on major decisions that affect our children’s education.”  

The head of West Pembroke’s PTA Renee Dill said that involving PTAs with school boards would have been “correct, and the right thing to do” — Royal Gazette, September 20. 

A spokesman for the Bermuda Parent Teachers Students Association stated: “The 2012 PTA Court decision reaffirmed the PTAs legal right to be consulted about matters that affect the education of their children. We believe the government should embrace the decision and partner with parents to improve the educational system instead of trying to do the opposite. Any attempt to legally reduce the involvement of parents in their students’ education is both ill conceived and counterproductive” — Royal Gazette, Sept. 21

Bermuda Education Network (BEN) head Becky Ausenda, said: “The PTA system is good, but it’s not as good as a system involving wider representation from the community — including alumni, businesses and other education groups that want to support schools” — Royal Gazette, September 21.

Within the first year under the OBA, we have seen:

n Appointment of controversial Dr Edmund Heatley as Commissioner of Education in August;

n Resignation of  Warren Jones, Permanent Secretary of Education in October;

n Removal of Sen. Nalton Brangman as the Minister of Education in December; 

n Appointment to the Ministry of MP Dr Grant Gibbons who will now wear two hats; the Minister of Education and the Minister of Economic Development.

Forcing Education to have to compete for the attention of its Minister with Economic Development is a clear indication of how much OBA values education and our children. Combining these two ministries runs contrary to the SAGE recommendations which clearly earmarked both to remain separate.  

Insuring that our children are equipped to actively participate in our labour market is one of the most important roles of our government. Failing to do so will add further justification for the continued mass influx of expat labour.  This will leave our children as second-class citizens in their own country.  

The OBA has remained tightlipped over Education for far too long; it is time to hear the vision for Education and the plan to implement the vision.    

Reveal your soul, OBA. 

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