Set for Charlotte Street South from 3 to 8 pm, the block party with a cause is part of an increasingly vocal campaign for a Freedom of Information Act. It is being organized by Save The Bays in partnership with a combination of diverse business and civic groups including the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, Citizens for a Better Bahamas and the Coalition for Responsible Taxation with numerous sponsors including Van Breugel’s Restaurant, Bristol Wine & Spirits and Sands.
“The momentum demanding passage of a Freedom of Information Act is gaining strength every week with more individuals and groups signing petitions, talking about transparency and urging legislation that will prevent all governments – not just this government, but all governments — from engaging in secret deals in which the very public being affected do not even have the right to participate in decision-making that will impact their lives,” said Joseph Darville, Education Director for Save The Bays. “The public has a right to know and to participate in the public’s business.”
Darville’s claim of growing momentum in the demand for transparency is supported by the activity Save The Bays, the Chamber of Commerce and other groups have experienced. More than 6,000 people have signed the online petition at www.savethebays.bs calling for passage of a Freedom of Information Act, an Environmental Protection Act and other measures and Save The Bays’ Facebook page has set a record for a local non-governmental organization with more than 17,000 friends and fans.
Chamber Chairman Robert Myers said freedom of information is one of the basic tenets of the Chamber’s platform.
“The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation is proud to support the efforts of civic society and the private sector who strive to promote open, transparent and accountable governance,” said Myers. “It is through the legislation of a Fiscal Responsibility Act that includes freedom of information, whistle blower and ombudsman acts, and the enforcement of the rule of law that The Bahamas will attain the kind of open governance and stability required to provide real progress and opportunity for its people and the country at large.”
The party, free and open to the public, will feature performances by The Bahamas’ best-selling musical artist, KB and the Rhythm Band. In addition to music, there will be food, drinks, t-shirts and other entertainment.
According to Save The Bays CEO Lindsey McCoy, interest in legislation bringing government into the sunshine has mushroomed since the first demonstration in March in Rawson Square.
“The day of the demonstration we had a terrible downpour and yet even that did not dampen spirits,” she said. “When we counted the groups and how many people they represented – including union chiefs from the country’s largest unions and associations of unions – we realized that more than 60,000 people were represented. And it was amazing to see how many visitors coming off the cruise ships or walking through historic Nassau were interested – most stunned that we did not already have Freedom of Information.”
Proponents of transparent government, particularly in approvals of developments impacting lifestyle, culture and the environment, have consistently pointed to the small number of countries still operating in the dark. Among them are North Korea and Guyana, the latter, however in the process of implementing legislation. Other hold-outs that recently enacted freedom of information legislation include Brazil, El Salvador, Malta, Mongolia and Yemen.
“The Bahamas is in the company of a diminishing few outliers,” said McCoy. “We hope that all this attention will bring results and make it possible for all informed citizens to take part in the processes that impact them.” She also encouraged
Because of tight security at both the north and south ends of Charlotte Street, which will be closed off for the block party, numbers will be limited for any given hour. Vendors are being invited to take part and offer food, crafts and t-shirts supporting the cause.
Educational Aids Strengthen Learning Experience for Provo Students
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands: Scores of students in Providenciales will benefit from back-to-school supplies donated by Sandals Foundation Ambassadors at Beaches Turks and Caicos resort, strengthening the instructional process in four schools at the start of the new school term.
More than 2,000 students from Ianthe Pratt, Enid Capron, Oseta Jolly and the Thelma Lightbourne Primary Schools were presented with a generous supply of educational materials including notebooks, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, knapsacks, reading material, sports gear and musical instruments from members of the philanthropic arm of the family all-inclusive resort. While sharing the gratitude for the gifts received, the leaders at the various institutions lauded the efforts of the more than 20 volunteers on hand.
Neekimo King, Principal of the Ianthe Pratt Primary School shared, “Beaches Turks and Caicos and the Sandals Foundation over the years have adopted our institution as their own. These reading books will go a far way in increasing our library stock and improving literacy among the students while the physical education and the guidance counseling units have received lots of materials to bolster the learning experience for our students.”
Sophia Garland, Principal of the Enid Capron Primary School was equally elated as she expressed how beneficial resources will be for the teaching and learning process.
“These supplies, including the books, will definitely aid in increasing literacy amongst the students and the many teaching aids that we have been received will create an environment that is conducive for teaching and learning.”
In sharing with the schools, James McAnally, General Manager at Beaches resort noted, “Sandals Foundation and the resort remain committed to the development of the education of our children, the environment and the communities in which we operate. These four government operated primary schools were identified for these supplies to help in fostering their academic and extra-curricular growth.”
McAnally continued, “A big thank you to the Sandals Foundation Ambassadors who came out and helped with making these distributions possible.”
Vice principal of the Oseta Jolly Primary School, Diana Dean, also expressed gratitude noting, “With these tools, I am sure the students will be excited about learning and the teachers will be better equipped to deliver the lessons.”
The Sandals Foundation and Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort have long been supporters of education and community development in Turks and Caicos, donating to a number of schools and youth sports programmes. Since 2011, the organisations have been assisting students at Ianthe Pratt, Enid Capron Primary Schools and other schools across the islands in their holistic development by providing educational supplies and the opportunity for Sandals and Beaches resorts guests to meaningfully engage with the students through a weekly literacy enhancement programme, hosted in partnership with Island Routes Tours – Reading Road Trip.
Header: Staff and students from the Enid Capron Primary School share a moment for the cameras with members of the Sandals Foundation team as the school received educational items from the Beaches Turks and Caicos and the Sandals Foundation.
Insert: James McAnally, General Manager, Beaches Turks and Caicos (front left) makes a presentation to members of the Ianthe Pratt Primary School recently with sporting gear and educational items looking on are members of the Sandals Foundation team, Sesame Street Character
PRESS STATEMENT: MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
#TurksandCaicos, January 27, 2023 – The Ministry responsible for Education confirms that a recent report of alleged sexual abuse was brought to the attention of authorities at a particular school. For the protection of the child, we will not divulge details of this matter. We do acknowledge that there were issues experienced which resulted in less than appropriate response to the incident.
The Ministry is continuing its investigation of the incident, in its totality and has since requested a comprehensive report on the response from all involved. Several meetings, visits and discussions were held. The key is to ensure that the minor involved is afforded additional counselling and care and that other students within the institution are also afforded the relevant support needed. The Student Support Services has been active in coordinating this response which is currently in operation.
As an immediate further action, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) entities will convene and existing protocols will be reviewed and investigations conducted to determine the consistency of the response, exactly where the established protocols were not followed and the subsequent actions to be taken.
The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Social Services considers its responsibility for the Safeguarding of children of utmost importance. In so doing, the Ministry of Education has instituted a number of measures over the years to ensure that allegations of abuse to children in schools are treated with urgency. The creation of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) was created to ensure that teachers, leaders, Social Workers, and Police can respond to allegations with the child’s safety and protection as the core consideration. Child safeguarding remains the Ministry’s primary concern.
UB Statement: Portia M. Smith Building Under Assessment
#The Bahamas, January 27, 2023 – In response to concerns expressed, University of The Bahamas released a notification on Thursday 26th January 2023 that effective immediately the Portia M. Smith Building at the Oakes Field Campus is closed until further notice as a precautionary measure.
Immediate steps have been taken to engage the Ministry of Environmental Health to conduct a thorough assessment of the building. In the interim, personnel assigned to Portia M. Smith have been instructed to work remotely to maintain the continuity of operations. A further communication will be issued once the assessment has been completed as we continue to provide timely updates.
Please be assured that the health, safety, and welfare of members of the University community and the general public are paramount and we are working with urgency to address this matter.
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