Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Bermuda closing eight primary schools

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HAMILTON – Bermuda is set to close eight of its government-run primary schools as part of a major overhaul of the public school system because of dwindling enrolment numbers.

Minister of Education Diallo Rabain said on Thursday night that the cuts would mean there would be just a single primary school in every parish, apart from the densely populated Pembroke which would have two.

He said the closures will be “phased in over three to five years”.

Rabain said that declining enrolment numbers meant there was no longer any need to have 18 primary schools in an island with a population of 64 000, and that resources could be used more effectively if they were concentrated on fewer schools.

Bermuda currently has 2 074 primary school pupils in government-run facilities – 1 086 fewer than in 2002.

The Education Minister stressed that the decision to move ahead with the overhaul – first outlined last December – was made only after extensive consultation with parents and other stakeholders.

However, there has been fierce opposition to the closure of some high-performing schools like the aided St George’s Preparatory School, which is one of the highest-scoring primary schools.

A report released in March by the school’s parent-teacher association stated: “We believe wholeheartedly that school closure decisions should be driven by academic performance…in alignment with academic research, and that we should be examining our current successes and replicating where we can.”

Minister Rabain said Bermuda’s education system had never been equitable, in part because of racial discrimination.

“As a community, we have a challenge before us – one that will not be resolved by maintaining the status quo or tinkering at the edges. The plan for parish primary schools will ensure that every child will attend an outstanding primary school, regardless of where they live, their background, or what strengths and needs they have.

“This critical investment not only sets up success for young people but also provides essential elements to help our economy and society to thrive,” he said. (CMC)

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