|Overall, I must say I am quite happy with the maiden Throne Speech of our present Premier. I found it relevant to today’s concerns tempered with forethought of the future. It’s the kind of throne speech that Bermudians should have always. Ever the social animal, my comments are on the Ministries of Education, Health, and Youth, Families, Sports and Community Development while also touching on Justice and National Security.
The Cambridge Curriculum, is an important step towards the measurement of student performance and achievement by internationally recognized standards. To date, the curriculum has been introduced in Mathematics, Science and English. To compliment the quality of the new curriculum, the Ministry of Education will introduce Master Principals to model effective instructional leadership which leads to improved teacher quality. This step will be part of a deliberate strengthening of site leadership to support further autonomy at the schools. In addition, Amendments will be made to the Education Act to strengthen the Board of Education and to ensure that the structure for accountability that is to be created by the Board and the Commissioner of Education is holistic and addresses all relevant constituencies. These actions will increase student achievement, our foremost priority.
The Ministry of Education has had so many ups and downs over the years trying to find stable ground after the change school format. It’s more than a little unfortunate because the biggest losers have been our young people. This has dire implications for the future of Bermuda. While I still have my issues with the introduction of a middle school system and still want to revert back to the primary/ secondary system, I suppose I must make my peace and make the best of a bad situation. One of the main problems of the change to a middle school system was not having a relevant curriculum to be paired with. The introduction of the Cambridge curriculum puts us one step closer to providing the students of Bermuda with the education they truly deserve.
It is true however that successful education is not just about the students so I welcome the introduction of the Master Principals model to ensure that our teachers provide this new curriculum in the best way possible. At the same time I do have to wonder what will happen to those teachers found not up to standard? There has been hesitation around the dismissal of teachers, any government worker really, and in these harsh economic times no one wants to hear about people being let go from their jobs but at some point you have to say enough is enough. For the sake of our young people some persons may need to be let go. We must prune the dead branches of the education tree for the sake of our young people that they may bear fruit. We must do what is best for them even if it is unpopular. That is our responsibility as adults and caretakers.
Needless to say Dame Jennifer has a mighty task ahead of her but I am confident of her abilities. She is someone who I have seen truly cares about young people and is a natural teacher. Hopefully under her care this ever so critical ministry will achieve its sure footing and be the strong foundation it is meant to be.
By bringing Labour and Training, Employment, Work Permits and the Bermuda College into the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, a better assessment of the needs of the economy will be possible.
Although this doesn’t fall under education anymore I do find it interesting and worth mentioning the move of Bermuda College under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. I like it. Shows holistic big picture thinking and long term planning. To study a certain topic for three or four plus years only to come home to find out there is no place for them to utilise their knowledge is highly upsetting and something I have heard from too many young people. I would like to see more placements specifically for graduates in the public and private sector however. An apprenticeship scheme, internships or a fast stream such as within the UK government. In this way graduates can achieve the experience they need and businesses and government are able to access and utilise the best minds.
2011 will see changes in regulatory requirements for health insurers and by 2012 more affordable insurance options will be available to the public. With that reform, and to promote dignity in healthcare, the Health Council will reform the minimum health insurance benefit to ensure it is a 21st Century package for our people.
I welcome affordable healthcare and health insurance; I think it is a great thing truly. At the same time I hope the Premier and Minister can appreciate my cautiousness after the introduction of Futurecare. This is not to say that Futurecare was a bad thing. However, it was rushed and caused unnecessary confusion and worry for many people in a very sensitive area; especially for older people. Premier Cox has never struck me as a person who rushes into things or one to distract people with glitz and glamour, so as long as the changes don’t break a persons back so to speak, and provides comprehensive coverage, bring it on! Between the American struggle for universal healthcare and the IMHO dodgy UK standard of care I think Bermudians have a better health care system than we give ourselves credit for. As a centre of international insurance I see no reason why we can’t have high quality health insurance as well.
In conjunction with the Bermuda College and the Ministry of Education, a Health Module will be developed for the senior schools leading to the direct employment of graduates in those healthcare fields for which they have been trained.
I think it great and ideal that graduates be able to get jobs in their chosen field. The health sector has been one of the hardest fields to break into after graduation with employees seeking experience which ultimately starts the oft cited moans of “how can I get experience if they won’t give me a job?” At the same time I think this module should not be limited to health. All ministries, such as environment, engineering and the like should make it possible for graduates to enter the work force. Hopefully within the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry similar modules will be planned for the future.
YOUTH, FAMILIES, SPORTS AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
with strong enforcement must come socially conscious interventions that recognise the symptomatic nature of much of the anti-social behaviour so prevalent in our community. To this end a High Risk Adolescent Intervention Team will be implemented through a realignment of duties within the Department of Child and Family Services.
I like these words. It speaks to an understanding that anti-social behaviour is not the problem. It is a symptom of a bigger problem. As a social psychologist I understand that anti-social behaviours come at the end of a string of factors that contribute to what we see. It is time we got to those underlying factors if we are to truly see change in our community. I’m quite curious to see what this realignment will look like. It is clear that there needs to be some work done on identifying and supporting young people who are at risk for anti-social activities. If the government so chooses they can take a page out of the UK’s book
we must provide support to families and develop community programmes that will help to produce successful youth and families.
The understanding of the term family has changed over the years and as such it is only right that the support needed by families may change. What I would like to see is an extension of the term family to include
We know “it takes a village to raise a child” and considering the way the village has changed over the years maybe the village needs to re-learn how to be a village. Just as the term family has I am a strong supporter of community development
In the area of cultural affairs, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs is developing the National Cultural Heritage Policy Document. This policy will be a major step in demonstrating this Government’s commitment to the promotion, preservation and celebration of our culture, cultural icons and our culture bearers. The Government believes this will foster improved goodwill amongst the cultural communities, artists, supporters of culture and those involved in the entertainment industry.
Oooh! Now this sounds exciting. I personally, love culture, all cultures but I have always been a bit disappointed with lack of information on Bermuda culture and its resulting influence on the Bermudian psyche. I am grateful to people like Dr. Ira Philips and former Minister Dale Butler and others for consistently shining a light on all people, places and things that are Bermudian. Bermuda culture is more than cod fish and potatoes and gombeys. While they are some of the most well known aspects of Bermuda culture, we as a people must dig deeper to more fully understand what it is to be Bermudian. In this way we instil a pride and care for our country that can be relayed into our speech to non-Bermudians and Bermudians alike.
I know I am not the only one who believes that many Bermudians tend to suffer from SIS (Small Island Syndrome). We question our place on the world stage because our island is so small despite the successes we have had. We question the intelligence of our workers unless they have worked abroad. We question our ability to be an independent nation despite having a stable infrastructure and for the most part conducting ourselves as an independent nation for years.
This policy document has so many implications for Bermuda in tangible and intangible as well as short and long term ways. This policy can aid in identifying new heroes for National Heroes Day, increase social capital, instil national pride and improve and strengthen and improve relationships between all persons
MINISTRY OF NATIONAL SECURITY
Ministry of National Security, a Ministry that will be responsible for public safety and for strengthening the professional standards of the Bermuda Police Service, the Bermuda Regiment, and the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service. The Bermuda Police Service has strongly led in the fight against crime and to provide them with additional support, the formation of a second Police Support Unit (PSU) is being considered. This Unit will provide visible, effective patrols to suppress anti-social and violent activity in the areas most in need.
I am in full support of the idea of having more uniformed police officers on the roads in the neighbourhoods and such. The fact of the matter is crime tends to decrease when police officers are clearly visible. Although that didn’t stop some brazen persons in the St. Monica’s road area a short while back, with this information taken into consideration police officers can ensure that they are protected and able to act in any and all situations. At the same time I have to wonder how would this proposed service be manned? This is the time to tighten budgets and although there are many Bermudians out of work I wonder how many would be interested in, qualified for and ultimately pass the application process. Budget cuts in the UK have seen a decrease in hiring officers but I will say this, for it is something I feel very strongly on: any officers hired from outside of Bermuda, regardless of where they may be from should take mandatory cultural immersion classes and be tested on the information presented.
In another vein the police wouldn’t have to work so hard if community members would work with them instead of against. It’s sad to watch police office practically beg for help solving crimes but considering they have no other choice as people do not step forward willingly…maybe the government can look to ways to end this cycle of silence. If it’s not safety, then what?
Furthermore, a Gang Task Force has been formed, comprised of representatives of all relevant stakeholder groups. The Task Force will work with the US Consulate to strengthen the intelligence sharing between our two countries. This coordinated effort will direct its resources to apprehending those responsible for gun crime and discouraging those at risk from joining that destructive lifestyle.
It’s sad that we have come to this but it is most definitely needed. I hope included as a key stakeholders are community groups such a Youth on the Move and the like who seem to have made more progress than anything that has been done so far. With the involvement of the US Consulate I have to wonder if Bermuda will be allowed to have a stop list for those persons who fly in to commit crimes and leave. I believe this was previously frowned upon by the US but I think it makes perfect sense considering the increasing problem of gang violence.
I do not believe that the police are completely unaware of some of the perpetrators of crimes despite lacking the evidence to conduct an arrest. I’ve been running this idea over in my mind after reading an earlier post by Jon and seeing a version of it implemented in London. I don’t know if will cause more problems or not because it can lead to increased harassment and profiling which I don’t agree with. Basically, the police target persons who are known to them to be involved in illegal activities and or repeatedly before the courts on lesser crimes. They then force these persons to take part in a holistic program of education, work, and community service or face increased penalties on their next arrest. I don’t want to see any more profiling and I do believe that all persons have the ability to change for the better so the jury is still out on that one. Feel free to let me know what you think though.
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
In an effort to close the gap between the Courts, Corrections and Probation Services, the Ministry of Justice will now assume responsibility for the Department of Corrections, the Department of Court Services, Alternatives to Incarceration and the National Drug Control Department, in addition to its existing responsibilities.
Justice is and should be a process that begins from the moment of arrest through the courts to incarceration ending after the person has completed their P>>. The move is definitely logical and it is my hope that this government will continue to put more focus into the ATI. I am a firm believer in restorative justice and its ability to act as a deterrent and bring peace of mind to victims through restorative justice efforts and high visibility community service for crimes. I welcome mandatory rehabilitative programs.