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TCI: Overcrowding & Quality Education – one of key focuses of MoE’s Education Sector Plan 2018-2022

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#Providenciales, June 7, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – Ministry of Education Officials explain that the Education Sector Plan 2018-2022 was crafted in response to concerns about overcrowding at public primary schools and the potential risk the overcrowding presented to the quality of education for young children.  ‘Provide equitable access to quality learning opportunities’ is the charge the Ministry has given itself with the support of the European Union (EU).

“Improving education is top priority for both the Government and the EU.   The support from the EU is aligned with the TCI Education Sector Plan and will allow the government to build more public classroom spaces to absorb the anticipated increase in enrolment that is forecasted in the coming years.  It will also contribute to building disaster resilience,” said EU Ambassador, Her Excellency Malgorzata Wasilewska.

The issue of Overcrowding & Quality Education is being more than adequately addressed with construction started on a fourth government-run primary school in Providenciales. On March 28, 2019 the cornerstone was laid for Long Bay Primary School which will add 30 new classrooms and spaces for 550 students.

As far as Overcrowding & Quality Education is concerned  there are two targets identified within the Education Sector Plan,. The first target focuses on improvement to access to quality education for students from ages 4 through to 16-years old while target two is focused on improving students’ access to high quality instruction through the development and implementation of an infrastructure and equipment modernization plan in each school by December 2018.

The pair of powerful storms dealt a harsh blow to the education sector of the Turks and Caicos Islands. At least four public schools were knocked out of commission and some 4,000 students were impacted by the damages which ranged from minor to severe.

The Education Sector Plan outlines the actions to ensure spaces are established and diverse enough for all students.  It aims to increase ideal spaces for early childhood and secondary students; to smartly rebuild spaces lost or damaged as a result of the 2017 hurricanes; to increase capacity at current primary schools; build new classroom blocks to accommodate technical and vocation learning; and to upgrade laboratories for enhancements in the sciences and also for teaching and learning in vocation and technical disciplines. 

The Ministry of Education, within the Plan has highlighted the need for monitoring the rate of enrolment for tertiary education; the number of Infrastructure Modernization and Maintenance Plans developed and implemented; the number of Ministry Staff trained to appraise school construction and building and equipment maintenance; the percentage of students completing at least one CVQ programme; the number of Special Needs children within public schools and the number of additional primary school spaces available in Providenciales.

 “Improving the Education System in the TCI…..Together we can do it”

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Health

Over 75 per cent Fully Vaccinated, Over 800 Boosted says Chief Medical Officer

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#TurksandCaicos, October 19, 2021 – “This week’s COVID vaccine report as of 11th October records a total of 28 529 persons or 82% of the population have received the first dose of the COVID19 vaccine with 26 233 persons being fully vaccinated which represents 75.1% of the eligible population. 4 Importantly, since the launch of the TCIs COVID-19 vaccine booster strategy which was launched on 4th October 2021, a total of 816 persons have received their booster doses.

The Ministry of Health continues to promote the COVID-19 vaccine which is readily accessible and free of cost to residents as a critical defense against COVID19 and a tool which will help the TCI to get back to the new normal amidst the ongoing pandemic.

We don’t have to look far to see what an enviable position the TCI is in as it relates to our access to the COVID-19 vaccine through the UKG. To date, we have received 5 tranches of the vaccine with additional deliveries being arranged in order to ensure that our resident population is protected.

Many countries both near and far are still struggling to meet the demands for the vaccine by their citizens and are experiencing challenges in accessing sufficient quantities of the vaccine to protect vulnerable groups as well as the wider population.

Each country continues to place a focus on the vaccine as a means of managing the pandemic in order to reduce both deaths and hospitalizations. Although we have come far in this regard in the TCI, we can still do better. We need more persons to become vaccinated.

Those who are eligible should get vaccinated to protect those who cannot get vaccinated such as young children below the age of 12 years. We owe it to our fellow citizens to do what we can as individuals to protect the wider community. We still have room for improvement as it relates to persons who would be considered vulnerable as well as younger persons whose uptake remains relatively low.

Pregnant women are another group I would like to highlight as the data around the world has shown that pregnant women who are unvaccinated against COVID19. Pregnant and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared with non-pregnant people. Severe illness includes illness that requires hospitalization, intensive care or illness that results in death. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth and might be at increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19. In the UK, it has been recently reported that pregnant women who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 account for almost 20% of critically ill coronavirus patients in England’s hospitals, in a statement from the National Health Service.

One in five patients receiving treatments through a special lung-bypass machine since July were expectant mothers who have not had their first shots. The vaccine as we have said before, is safe for persons who are trying to conceive as well as women who are pregnant. The vaccine is safe in these groups and can reduce the risk of infection and protect both mother and baby. It can also offer protection to the babies through the transmission of antibodies generated in response to the vaccine.

All pregnant women in the TCI are being encouraged to become fully vaccinated.”

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MINISTRY TOURISM STATEMENT ON TRANSITION OF TOURIST BOARD TO A DESTINATION MANAGEMENT ORGANISATION (DMO)

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#TurksandCaicos, October 19, 2021 – The Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands has for the past few months signaled the intention of the Government to transform how the tourism industry is managed. The vision to establish a Destination Management Organization (DMO) and a Regulatory Authority has consistently been discussed and referenced in presentations and budget speeches by the Hon. Premier and Minister responsible for Tourism Hon. Josephine Connolly since assuming office and the reins of Government.

The KPMG Tourism Strategy report of 2015 recommended a change in the structure of management of the tourism industry. Although not defining what that structure would look like, the Government after reviewing several models has outlined that the DMO and Regulatory Authority will best meet our needs.

To this end, the Government has released a tender for a consultancy to assist with the set up these authorities and to also wind down the existing structure of the Tourist Board.

This is meant to be a thorough and open process as all Invitations to Tenders are. The public would have been notified that a tender was released inviting bidders to respond to the invitation.

In the interim as outlined by the Hon. Premier it is important for the Tourist Board to begin to review its ongoing contractual obligations to ensure that the transition will go as smoothly as possible.

As things change, some things will remain the same. The Tourist Board continues its marketing and promotional activities and will work closely with the consultant when that service is procured. The team will also have membership on the working group/advisory committee that will inform the progress of the consultancy.

This does mean the Tourist Board will not exist as it does currently. In order to progress the work and winding down activities, the Premier and Minister for Tourism, asked that the external offices begin to wind down and close, with work conducted via these offices to be done from the Islands.

These offices were affected by the COVID 19 pandemic and have essentially meant that a lot of its work was conducted virtually. Additionally, the New York Office was managed by the periodic visits of the Director and the direct handling of calls and meetings were facilitated virtually. This method will continue with all offices. All trade and fam trips will continue.

COVID 19 did highlight that there was a need to review their existence and find alternative ways to manage them. This will allow for that work to be done expeditiously.

The Premier when he met to discuss the transition to the DMO to the staff, indicated that and gave his promise that no staff would be displaced nor made redundant. What ever structure put in place would mean redefining of roles and responsibilities.

Reviewing and addressing changes in management, deliverables and new ways of doing things are key strategies for any progressive Government.

The Regulatory Authority would have an enhanced role. This authority will set, monitor and maintain standards for all sectors of the industry. It is important that if we are to maintain our position as a five-star, high end destination that all elements of the industry reflect this. The quality of service and product offered by TCI has to reflect this. The Regulatory Authority will work closely with the planned hospitality institute, the community college and all other key stakeholders to ensure the establishment and grounding of standards all across the sector.

There has not been any talk of redundancies as mentioned on social media and rumors to this effect seems to be an attempt to create mischief. A few weeks ago, the Premier and Minister thought it prudent to meet with staff and Directors of the TB. This was important to help clarify the change process and to allay fears of anyone losing their jobs in the process.

Board members have been consistently updated on the process and subsequently a meeting was held October 2, 2021.  The meeting was constructive and staff were promised that they would be kept updated. Dialogue will continue as the project progresses toward a DMO in the new financial year.

The Premier and Minister firmly established their vision to promote local talent as there is an abundance of talent within the Tourist Board. The time has come however to have the structure reviewed and strengthened to meet the new and emerging needs of a dynamic industry.

Additionally, the Premier and Minister of Tourism has met with the TCHTA, the TB, local and international partners on many occasions since the passing of the budget and indeed early in the life of the new regime to discuss its intentions to transition to a DMO.

As of today, no consultant has been engaged as the tender process is still active. Interested parties/companies may find a copy of the tender at www.gov.tc. and are encouraged to apply We look forward to updating the public as we make progress.

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“Enormous” problem Curtailing Crime says Premier as TCI mourns murder of Alpheus Gardiner

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#TurksandCaicos, October 19, 2021 – It was important that the Premier spoke in a National Address on Saturday (October 16) about the very dark trend of the previous four days; two men, shot and robbed in broad daylight in parking lots in Providenciales by culprits who were masked, armed and trigger happy; the first man survived, the second man did not.

“Today, I feel compelled to come to you to bring you expressions of condolences.  To the family to Alpheus Gardiner and indeed to all families who have been victims of crime, but especially murder and other violent crimes.  This senseless loss of life must stop and it is my Government’s intention to ensure that it does.  Alpheus Gardiner was a personal friend, he was also a teacher and spent many years as a Permanent Secretary.  In short, he has made tremendous contributions to the life and progress of the people of these Turks and Caicos Islands,” said Washington Misick, Turks and Caicos Premier in a live social media broadcast from his Providenciales office.

He called Mr. Gardiner a personal friend who even in his retirement remained active in Turks and Caicos life.

“Mr. Gardiner a career public servant who dedicated over 40 years of service to the public service and people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, joined the public service in 1971 as a Teacher at the Bottle Creek Primary School.

In 1977 he was promoted to the post of Principal of the Bottle Creek Primary School and in 1979 was appointed to the post of Primary School Advisor (Education Officer); a post he held for 3 years before being promoted to the post of Director of Sports in 1982.

In 1992 Mr. Gardiner was promoted to the post of Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Health and Social Security; a post he held for 3 years before being assigned to the Ministry of Police and Prisons in 1995; Works and Utilities in 1997; Health and Social Services in 1999; Communication, Tourism, Transport, Immigration, Labour and Civil Aviation in 2001 and Development, Investment and Tourism in the Office of the Chief Minister in 2003,” informed a Turks and Caicos Islands Government release on the passing of the retired official.

Alpheus Gardiner, 68, died fighting for his life at hospital.

Reports are that he was rushed to the Cheshire Hall Medical Center after being shot in the abdomen by two masked and armed assailants who fled the scene in his white truck.  The parking lot ambush happened around 10 a.m. on Thursday October 14, soon after Mr. Gardiner exited the Royal Jewels store at Arch Plaza on Leeward Highway.

The ambush and shooting of the prestigious retiree who resides in North Caicos, resulted in the country’s seventh homicide for 2021, and it took place mere yards away from the Office of the Premier.

TCIG also said: “In 2005 Mr. Gardiner rose to one of the highest ranks in the Turks and Caicos Islands Civil Service when he was appointed to the post of Establishment Secretary in the Office of the Chief Secretary which held the responsibility for the overall oversight and management of the public service of the Turks and Caicos Islands; a post he held for 2 years before his retirement in 2007.

In spite of officially retiring from the civil service in 2007, Mr. Gardiner continued to serve the public service and people of the Turks and Caicos Islands in various capacities since his retirement, having served as a Justice of the Peace, Notary Public and Presiding Justice on the island of North Caicos as well as a former member of: the North Caicos District Administration Board; the Turks and Caicos Islands National Insurance; Education Advisory and Tourist Board and the Turks and Caicos Islands Public Service Commission, an appointment he recently held until August 2021.”

It was a mortifying crime report, the family in desperation summoned help from the Community requesting donations of blood.  It was said scores of people showed up in support of the beloved North Caicos native.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like for you to remember him.  Reach out where possible to support his family at this very vulnerable time for them,” said Premier Misick.

The Turks and Caicos Premier was supported in the presentation by H.E. Anya Williams, Acting Governor and Kendall Grant, Acting Commissioner of Police.

“In what may be described as a crisis, I understand that it is human nature for you to expect your premier to fix things and fix it fast.  However, in a complex situation like the emerging pattern of violent opportunistic crime, familiar answers, and I am sure there are lots of them, might not work and could even be counter-productive; we have to allow the Police to do their job,” said Hon Misick in the address, “There is no off the shelf solution to the troubling challenges we face, with all the unknowns and uncertainties, we need to remind ourselves that we cannot change the past but we can and we should change how we perceive it and how we look to the future.  Given the totality of the dynamics, the problem is enormous and all 40 thousand plus of us will have to work together to overcome it.”

The Premier wrapped this train of thought in a package familiar to islanders, another request to support the Royal TCI Police investigators with information on this or any other crime.

“We are our brothers’ keeper and when we have information that will lead to the solution of crime we must make sure it ends up in the right hands.  But together we will get through this difficult period… My Fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders and Residents of this beautiful country, I am asking you to take care of each other and I am counting on you to do so.”

Residents who tuned into the national address said they expected more from the country’s leader, adding that he seems to be out of touch.

“It was a lot of mentioning of money, but there wasn’t any mention of the people of the islands getting help with these monies and that is what caused the death of this guy, day before yesterday was it and that is why the Filipino guy got shot. It was all about money. I will say it again, once money is on the streets, if the economy gets stimulated with money, you would not have none of this,” said a Providenciales man who believe another round of stimulus cash is overdue of the PNP Administration.

The first attack happened around 12:30 p.m. in the parking area of the Turtle Cove Marina, an employee of Mango Reef was shot.  His vehicle was also stolen and fortunately, Gary James, a pastry chef at the restaurant survived his ordeal.

The pattern is tremendously disconcerting.  No longer under the cover of darkness, but in the brilliance of the daylight, people are being targeted, perhaps even stalked and caught unawares by assailants who have demonstrated they have no regard for human life.

Though the head of Policing was in the room, the premier had no update on the suspects and no advice for residents.  There was no report on security activities which would take place in order to possibly prevent further attacks, there was however another pronouncement of the financial investments in the force in recruitment, training, equipment and facilities.

“Your government has been proactive; we’ve made huge investments in security infrastructure some of which you’ve heard about in the past.  Expansion to the police force strength from 320 to north of 350 (members); yesterday the 15th October., the (acting) Commissioner swore in five detectives from the United Kingdom, with another 10 detectives to be sworn in over the next 60 days and in addition, the RTCIPF is recruiting 18 local officers.  We are serious about fighting crime.”

The Premier credited the National Security nerve centre, inclusive of the National Security Council as being proactively engaged and driven to establishing a technologically advanced national security strategy and team.

“To demonstrate our seriousness in dealing with the matter, we intend to make Turks and Caicos one of the safest destinations I the world by leveraging our financial strength to do so.”

 

 

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