Education plans aired

A two-day national conference set for September aims to provide a blueprint for improving the education system in the Cayman Islands.

Through workshop sessions involving a broad cross-section of the community, a National Consensus on Education will be drawn up to guide educational programming over the next six to eight years, said Education Minister Alden McLaughlin at a press briefing Wednesday.

‘This is not just an opportunity for people to vent. There are going to be clear actions as a result,’ he said.

The conference is expected to draw more than 500 participants including government officials, teaching staff from the private and public sectors, parents, students and the business community. With the theme Defining Challenges: Finding Solutions – Together, the conference runs 2 and 5 September.

Delegates will be divided into peer working groups to identify critical issues facing the education system and come up with ideas to address them.

The findings will be compiled in the Consensus document, which will be tabled in the Legislative Assembly.

Gareth Long, chair of the conference planning committee, emphasized the conference will be unlike any other.

‘It’s not just a talking workshop,’ he said. ‘There will be a timely, realistic plan for the future.’

Delegates will address issues ranging from teachers’ salaries and professional training to identifying skills young people need by the time they leave school.

Keynote speaker is Conor O’Dea from the Bank of Butterfield, who will talk about what Cayman’s marketplace is demanding from graduates in today’s economy.

Mr. McLaughlin noted not only will curriculum be addressed in the sessions but improvements to administration as well.

‘We must modernise our education system,’ he said. ‘Nothing will be gained by glossing over what needs to be done. I am dedicated to giving education the priority it deserves. September’s conference is one of the first steps towards achieving that key objective.’

Two local firms, Ernst & Young and NCB Consulting Ltd., are co-sponsoring the event.