Curriculum information remains on hold

The Ministry of Education has enlisted the help of a local public relations agency to promote the new curriculum being implemented in its primary schools, but so far little information on the programme has been released.

The ministry hired Massive Media on 13 Aug. Records show the ministry paid the agency $31,000 on 9 Sept. “to produce a campaign to educate the public on new education improvements/enhancements such as the new curriculum implementation”.

The payment, a spokeswoman said, is meant to cover the entire 12-month period of the campaign. In addition to direct expenses, the amount billed to the ministry included 187 hours at $150 per hour.

The spokeswoman said this is not the first time the ministry has employed an outside public relations firm. Other ministries, including tourism and financial services, have also hired such agencies.

So far, Massive Media has produced two videos, at a cost of $2,200. It also put out a press release providing an overview of that meeting, which, unlike past years, was not open to media coverage. News agencies were given access to a video of a teachers welcome-back meeting in August, the week before schools resumed.

In early September, Massive Media officials contacted the Compass, requesting consideration of materials outlining the new curriculum. However, those materials were never received.

On Tuesday, an official with the company said it remained “on standby,” awaiting feedback from the ministry before it could release the information.

The ministry announced plans last year to revamp the primary curriculum. A group of officials took two trips to England to observe and gather information on the curriculum being used there. That curriculum is being used as a model for Cayman.

In an April address to the Legislative Assembly, Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly detailed some of the anticipated changes.

“Children are expected to learn more at an earlier age,” she said, such as mastering their times tables by age 9. More emphasis will be placed on spelling, grammar and handwriting. Students will learn to write computer code.

In science, she said, “There will be a shift toward hard facts and scientific knowledge.”

A mandatory second language, Spanish, will be introduced in Key Stage 2.

Social studies, she said, will incorporate a strong local component to educate children about Cayman his- tory and culture.

The ministry also invested an undetermined amount of money to ensure that every primary teacher had a laptop computer to help implement the new curriculum.

The spokeswoman at Massive Media said she did not have an expected date when information on the new curriculum might be available.