Tonight is a big night for Bermuda. We are about to discover at last who is to follow the illustrious Dr. Brown as Premier of Bermuda. What better night than tonight then to discuss Education, one of the most important issues as Bermuda goes forward. perhaps our new Premier will be more inclined to take discussion in the community on board than the outgoing one and actually arrive at a satisfactory solution or perhaps we're in for more of the same. Who knows?
Either way, here's my wish list for reform:
Firstly, employ the best teachers available, Bermudian or Non-Bermudian. Education is not the place to play immigration politics.
Secondly, introduce British GCSE (or IGCSE), A Level and BTEC external examinations for all students.
Thirdly, ensure that any student who is unable to pass an end of year exam in both Math and English every year is made to repeat the year and provided with extra support so they won't fail it twice.
Fourthly, stream students beginning at GCSE level into 3 groups: Top, Middle and Bottom. Call the streams what you like but, make it happen whether it be internal to schools or a situation where each level is at a different school. Ensure that the ability to move between the streams exists for students that show an improvement (or decline).
Fifthly, consider offering vouchers to parents who wish to send their children to private/boarding schools for an amount equal to the spending per student within the public education system (with the rest of any costs to be funded by the parent).
Sixthly, eventually remove all Government involvement in education beyond paying for it.
Seventhly, ensure that all students public or private participate in a Critical Thinking and a Citizenship class. The first to teach rudimentary logic, the construction of arguments, the difference between fact and assertion, the ability to infer information and identify assumptions behind a text etc. and the second to teach the political system in Bermuda and other major countries in the world as well as to discuss alternatives that have been suggested/tried in the past.
Those are the things that I would like to see as part of any meaningful reform of Bermuda's education system.
If wanting that kind of reform isn't Wishful Thinking (given the PLP's past record) I really don't know what is.