Minister voices concern for teachers

Education Minister Roy Bodden has voiced his ‘grave matter of concern’ that four months on from Hurricane Ivan many teachers continue to struggle with accommodation and transportation issues in Grand Cayman.

The concern was brought up during the Minister’s status report on education in the Legislative Assembly Thursday afternoon.

He pointed out that while some teachers are receiving relief through Government’s trailer home initiative, it will not be a solution for all.

‘Like many others in the community, many of our teachers are facing increased rents or paying rents in addition to a mortgage while their homes are being repaired.’

He said his Ministry is reviewing options for providing some short term tangible support for teachers, and looking towards the longer term to establish incentives that will allow the Ministry to continue to attract quality teachers.

‘While we may say that this is not the only group that is suffering, I would remind you that these are the persons who are teaching our children, often in less than ideal circumstances at school as well as in their homes, and from whom we expect many things.’

Minister Bodden also told the House that his Ministry has just received Cabinet approval for proposals, as part of a long-term plan for the redevelopment of high school education and educational facilities in Grand Cayman.

Approval has been given for the restructuring of all high schools as 10 plus to 16 plus schools (incorporating both junior and high school phases). Approval has also been given for the provision of three high schools at strategic locations in Grand Cayman: West Bay, George Town and North Side, over the period 2004 – 2009.

The Ministry, he said, is also actively pursuing improvements for the Cayman Brac High School.

‘One major initiative is the Ministry’s plan to begin work on a new school hall in Cayman Brac before the end of the financial year. We will also be considering, as a longer term option, the re-siting of the Cayman Brac High School to a location on the Bluff.’

The Minister also announced that Government schools in Grand Cayman will close 8 July, the closing date set before Hurricane Ivan.

‘This decision has been made in light of the good gains made in our students’ learning and the curriculum time gained by the various other strategies implemented by the Ministry.’

Minister Bodden said they are also concerned about the impact of a longer school year on the morale and well being of teachers, many of whom still have difficult personal circumstances.

He said the Education recovery team is exploring options for summer school programmes.

The Minister pointed out that the Ministry is to lead the way in developing a Disaster Preparation, Response and Recovery Plan for education.

‘Despite the many other pressing tasks facing us in the coming months, we are aiming to complete this before the onset of the next hurricane season,’ he said.

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