Today’s Editorial for February 9: All children should get an education

First there was news that a pre-school was closing its doors on Christmas Eve, leaving the parents of 100 tykes wondering what to do with their children during the workday.

Then we got news that a second pre-school is in danger of shutting down, displacing 72 children.

On the heels of that news we learn that First Baptist Church is cutting out grades 7 and 8; a decision apparently made without input from parents or students. The closure leaves the parents of 16 Year 6 students struggling to find a new school to place their children.

It also means that some families will be pulling their youngsters out of the lower grades at First Baptist in an effort to give their children more stability at one school instead of facing the task of finding placement for their children after Year 6.

We have to wonder what expatriate parents are going to do when it comes to the education of their children.

Under the Education Law only Caymanian children are allowed to attend public schools, so expats must use a portion of their income to send their children to private schools.

Government does divvy up $2 million amongst the private schools, but the draft bill of rights for the Cayman Islands does not provide a right to education here.

Instead the draft aspires to provide free primary and secondary education to Cayman and expat children, but that’s not likely to happen any time soon. The Government simply can’t afford to provide education to all children in the Cayman Islands.

But it should grant the right to an education to all children, especially when it is giving private schools $2 million.

Aspiring to provide an education is a far reach from an actual mandate.

If schools keep closing their doors we may see an exodus of expatriates with school-age children from our country.

While some Caymanians may welcome their departure, we have to be careful in realising that when many of them go, they will be leaving behind jobs that Caymanians may not be able to fill.

If enough expatriates exit one company, that company could close its doors or move to another jurisdiction, taking with it money that goes into our public coffers.

The economy is already dismal. Cayman can’t afford to lose any businesses because expatriate children can’t be educated on our shores.

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