The Democratic National Alliance is gravely concerned that the Minister of Education is playing a shamefully dangerous game with the publicly funded educational system by refusing to release, in its entirety, results of the 2011 national examinations. The Party joins a growing number of persons in the Bahamian public who is calling on the Minister to put aside petty politics and release the results of this year’s examinations, in its entirety - as was done with past national examination results under previous government administrations - so that the public can judge the successes or failures of the institutions that it funds.
“Of late, this government has made it a custom to change up the rules as it continues to hide and justify its obvious failures. But this is political season,” DNA Chairman Mark Humes says, “We understand that this administration is trying to save its job in the face of mounting social failures. It is no wonder that the Minister of Education would prefer to tell the Bahamian people that there have been improvements in national grades. At this most critical stage in fading life of this administration, what else could we expect? However, the Minister should understand that proof should be in black and white for all to see, not to be told. Let’s stop the "political hogwash.”
The Chairman says that the Minister’s failure to prepare and have documents by which the media could have verified and substantiated his reports further throws a cloud of suspicion over his presentation last week. He says, “If all is as the Minister says, he should have been more than happy to have copies for the media to take for their own analysis and reporting. At this stage in the game, there is almost nothing about this government and its spokespeople that the Bahamian people can trust. And now, for the Minister to release the results to the public later, when he could have easily have done it at the time of the presentation, is going to further make us suspicious.”
The Chairman is concerned that, not only is the Minister playing politics with the education of the nation’s youth, but he takes exception with the recent results, because they do not give a clear indication of how the public school system and its students – for which the Minister is particularly responsible – are performing.
“As it stands, these results include both private and public schools students,” Humes says. “By presenting the results the way he does, the Minister makes it appear as if these are primarily public school improvements, and that he and his people are making strides. Maybe they are and maybe they are not. Maybe this is another reason why he does not want us to have the information for ourselves. How different would these results be if we were to take out the private school factor?”
Humes says that generally private school students do well on these exams, and therefore, he feels that if we as a nation are going to hail our public school students’ improved performances, we would, as a nation, need to know specifically how they have improved. “The Minister should not be covering up information on our students,” Mr. Humes says.
He goes on to say that real improvements in the national exams will come when government stops “nickel and dime-ing” the system.
“How can the Director of Education say that ‘we’ve had any one of our Math teachers who are not necessarily trained in Math teach that subject because they tried to assist where we had no math teachers’,” Humes questions. “What non-sense is that? No wonder our students are failing Math and English. If the teachers are not trained in teaching Math, then the teachers should not be teaching Math! If we have problems with students understanding Math and English, spend more money and hire or train more teachers who know English and how to speak English and who can do math. That would be one obvious solution, no? We want to continue to nickel and dime and then expect exceptional results. I will never happen!”
The Chairman feels that this government, neither the Progressive Liberal Party government - whose dismal record in educating Bahamian students now have them silent and unable to confront this administration over the lackluster examination results - will not be able to do anything meaningful to turn around this ailing system.
The DNA recognizes that in order for education to serve as the catalyst for the nation’s growth and progress the system must be transformed into one that is, on all levels, inspirational and engaging. Humes says that the DNA’s platform and policies on education will provide that transforming framework by which the nation can begin the process of developing and nurturing a community of lifelong learners who will help our country become competitive in a global economy, while at the same time contributing to and driving national and worldwide development.
He notes that the DNA will further discuss it's proposal for transforming the educational system at an educational Town Hall Meeting scheduled for mid-September at the BCPOU Hall, the third in a series of Town Hall meetings the party has been holding on its national development platforms and policies.
“It is time for The Bahamas to recognize that if we continue to do the same thing over, and over, and over again and expect different results, it will not happen,” Chairman Humes says. “We need to do what is best for our children, their children, and their children to come.”