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100,000 Students in The Bahamas served with virtual Education; Minister’s remarks

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#Nassau, The Bahamas – House of Assembly – April 6, 2020

MR. SPEAKER:

Today, I update this Honourable House and the nation of the progress by the Ministry of Education is delivering ‘live’ instructions, making educational resources available, and assisting parents, teachers, administrators and all stakeholders in the execution of the online educational system that is now full steam in the Bahamas.

This virtual platform serves approximately 50,000+ public school students, 25,000 private school students, and 25,000 more tertiary enrolled students.

From Bahamas Ministry of Health

As you are aware, Sir, the Ministry of Education closed it school doors on Monday, March 16th, as a result of the pandemic upon us. Before this virus outbreak, the Ministry had launched it virtual school in September, 2019, engaging over 1600 students, primarily those in remote districts in our country. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, the Online Platform was needed to provide instruction for the storm-affected students of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Today, there is a further immediacy and urgency for educators across The Bahamas to deliver online lessons to all students in Grades K-12, utilizing the virtual school platform.

Since the school’s closure, the Ministry’s leadership and Teams of Teachers, Curriculum Officers, Administrators and Technical Officers have met and prepared volumes of material for students for all grade levels, as well as sourced materials rom  available sources around the globe to augment and supplement the Ministry’s Offering.

to produce “e-learning instructional resources” for all curricula, at the various grade levels.

Technical officers met over two days (Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th March. 2020) to develop a plan for the way forward.  As a result, curriculum officers established teams of teachers to develop content for placement on the Virtual learning platform.  An online student registration process was created of which the public was notified primarily using a media campaign engaging traditional and social media. 

By Monday 23rd March, the Ministry’s Virtual learning site was activated with content for students of all grade levels.  About 9,000 students were registered. 

In 2019, Learning Management System, called One n One, a collaboration with the Bahamas Telecommunication Company Limited (BTC),  The Cable & Wireless Foundation and Sandals Foundation was offered to assist the Ministry of Education to provide three (3) months of dedicated remote, online classes for Public School students displaced by Hurricane Dorian, in Abaco, Grand Bahama and other Family Islands. Throughout the period of engagement, students and teachers were engaged in a virtual classroom on weekends on the One-on-One virtual platform, to take them through much needed lessons on the five (5) core high school subjects, including Mathematics and Language for the BJC & BGCSE curricula.

This week, Cabinet will consider a proposal to supplement the instruction being offered via its own Virtual Schooling initiative, by providing remote instructions via the One-on-One platform for all students in Grades K-12 in the public and private sectors, from April – June, 2020.  Covid-19 has created a tremendous learning gap, Mr. Speaker, that if not addressed, can result in a potentially irrecoverable deficit for students in the Bahamian education sector.

Weekend Cabinet Meeting in The Bahamas

There is currently no data available on Private sector students receiving virtual learning, the Ministry of Education has received many requests for general financial assistance, and now increased grant-in-aid subventions since Hurricane Dorian, when a number of the New Providence based private schools took in a number of displaced students, particularly students from Abaco.

Since the COVID 19 Crisis, anecdotal evidence affirms that many private institutions are struggling with the provision of on- line classes, particularly for their students who have no internet connectivity.  In this regard, the One On One proposal for facilitating pre-recorded lessons via Flo TV makes this proposal particularly critical for the Ministry of Education.

This arrangement would enable all teachers in The Bahamas in public and private schools to access live, remote classes with their students for a period of two and a half months, commencing on April 20th, 2020, while exercising social distancing in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

I ask parents/guardians and care-givers to please register their students. Go to www.ministryofeducationbahamas.com, web page. You will see a link that says virtual learning portal, click on that; and register. For those already registered, simply go to your respective grades, and begin your work.  Registered students have received their learning schedules, so they know the times for their classes. The virtual learning space mirrors exactly what the students would be doing in a regular school day – two periods in the morning, a break, two more periods, then lunch. The same thing.

Mr. Speaker, in the midst of this crisis, the MOE is aware of the psycho-social support that many may need to help them cope. Thus, I am pleased to announce that Isra-Aid, a Non-Profit entity, and Ms. Imri Grinberg, The Bahamas Head of Mission, has been invaluable a resource in providing critical ne

They created a series of modules of interactive webinars to reach the entire staff in the coming weeks. Our purpose is twofold: to provide psychosocial assistance to the staff and to give the school counselors and teachers effective tools to support the students. They have been collaborating with the Guidance and Counselling Unit and the Superintendents to coordinate future dates for engagements.

Last Friday, Isra-Aid launched its first webinar “Dealing with Uncertainty” for the school counselors, which was extremely successful. There was very good feedback with 96 unique participants.

Access to Education

With the establishment of the Virtual School, and the paucity of devices of internet services for a significant swath of our student population, they have committed to ensuring that no student is left behind. IsraAID is endeavoring the following initiatives:

1. Procurement of tablets, solar chargers, data packages for students in Abaco. Also planning to include an information toolkit for children and parents with additional activities.

2. Assisting the MOE’s Staff in monitoring the attendance and participation of students in the Virtual School.

3. Helping in the creation of online content including webinars, videos, and activities related to education, hygiene promotion, well-being, and recreation to collaborate and approved by the MoE and added to the Virtual School.

4. Creating and distributing printed content packets for students who currently do not have online access.

Mr. Speaker, our Ministry and Department Teams have been working virtually around the clock to expand the offering of the virtual school, and assist the many thousands of Bahamian students now affected by this pandemic.  I am deeply appreciative of all those technical officers within the Department of Education and the scores of teachers and school administrators who have answered the call ensure that our students’ education does not have to stop because of the Coronavirus.  Proud of Permanent Secretary Mrs. Lorraine Armbrister and Education Director, Mr. Marcellus Taylor, for their stellar leadership in delivery this new platform for our students and teachers.

Whether it was the development of the Virtual Learning platform, production of learning resources, establishing and facilitating virtual learning classes, offering training and support to Administrators, Teachers, parents and students, all of these efforts are appreciated greatly.  We are grateful and the Bahamas is proud of you for your invaluable contribution to the country’s development. 

The Problem, Mr. Speaker, and for which we do not now have the data is how many students in our system do not have internet access? Or if they do, do not have a device with which to access the internet, and thus continue with their learning.

We are advised anecdotally, that there is between 10-20% of our students who may be so deprived. If so, we are looking at 10,000 students in the public sector alone. This, I can assure You, Sir, as noted previously is being addressed.

To that end, the Ministry is now working with our Providers, Aliv and BTC, in designing a platform where internet-deprived students, or device-challenged students   the internet capability, get devices, and alternatively, view their lessons on two dedicated Cable Channels that will be populated with the appropriate content for their use.

That is why, as we move forward, All hands must be on deck to assist in advancing our Virtual Learning activities.  As I stated on March 18 in this Honourable Chamber,

Though Teachers and students are away from Campus, learning and teaching MUST  continue. End of term exams have to be calculated. National Exams have to re-fashioned. Schools all over the world are scrambling to adjust to this new environment, whether it their admission requirements, assessment modules, etc.

This is not a vacation. The school system has already lost precious instructional and learning time due to Hurricane Dorian. We cannot afford a single day further in lost educational time. Teachers and school administrators, while separated physically from their students, will be asked to undertake the following:

Please keep in mind that this is new territory and as we navigate these uncharted waters, we will seek to provide you with the guidance needed to have success. As Prime Minister stated Sunday night in his national update, the Govt’s decisions in this COVID-19 reality are based on the facts and the best medical and scientific information

possible. As he asked the nation, I repeat in my advice to Educators throughout the system, please be guided by health officials and reliable information from credible sources.

Further to all this, Mr. Speaker, is our students of developmental or alternatively learning abilities. They have to be supported and taught as well. We are addressing this as we speak, but it has its challenges.

Remember, we are in this together and when you succeed, we all success and the students and the country are the beneficiaries.  We are one team with one goal!

Rest assured that the Ministry of Education is committed fully to the education of all students in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and we will do our best to provide them with a quality education without regard to the circumstances.  We are aware that some students do not have access to the Internet or devises and we are exploring ways to reduce or eliminate these access to education issues. 

LUNCH PROGRAM

There are some 4200 public school students on our lunch voucher program, as identified by the Dept of Social Svcs.  Recognizing that the need for continued sustenance must be maintained, the Ministry organized a deliver system for the distribution of the vouchers to the affected students and their families. Approx. 55% of vouchers collected in NP and 45% in GB.   Fam. Is. 100% issued.  Transportation appears to be key issue.  Xtra Vaue and Budget had issues with printing od vouchers.  Should be resolved this week.  Team would like to ask security personnel at the various schools in New Providence to assist with issuing the remainder of the vouchers in NP & GB.   Due to the short week and the need to write up 2700 vouchers for NP and 1500 for GB the new vouchers will not be distributed until 15 to 17 April.

PROPOSED REVISED EXAMINATION DATES

The MOE is reviewing our natl exam schedule closely, and guided by the facts and science, will be making announcement as soon as all the data needed to make that decision is available to us.

Additionally, many have called asking about the re-opening of schools.

Mr. Speaker, as the PM just announced, this curfew and intermittent lockdown will continue until the end of April, 2020.

Therefore, schools will not re-open until certainly after that, but not until the Competent Authority – The PM – gives the Order to do so.

Obliged, Mr. Speaker.

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Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis pledges to govern in the interests of all Bahamians

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#TheBahamas, September 19, 2021 – During his ceremonial swearing-in today as the nation’s fifth Prime Minister, Hon. Philip Davis pledged to govern in the interests of all Bahamians and to consult widely with the Bahamian people.

The best way to make progress as a nation is to bring people together, said Prime Minister Davis, who was presented with his instruments of Office in ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Centre, on Saturday 18 September 2021.

Prime Minister Davis was officially sworn in as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on Friday 17 September 2021 at the Office of the Governor General.

“We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that it’s not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people,” said the Prime Minister.

“There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us.”

Prime Minister Davis said that while there are big challenges ahead for The Bahamas, his team has the right vision and policies to take the country forward.

The Prime Minister said the new administration is coming into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before.

The country faces many crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an economy in decline and deeply concerning challenges in education, said Prime Minister Davis.

If everyone works together towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are possible for The Bahamas and its people, said the Prime Minister.

But no government can do great things on its own, Prime Minister Davis added.

“I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people,” said the Prime Minister.
“We are going to listen, we are going to consult widely and we are going to bring people together.”

_
18 September 2021
Office of the Prime Minister
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Contact: opmcommunications@bahamas.gov.bs
Website: opm.gov.bs

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PRESS RELEASE: Prime Minister Minnis Thanks Bahamians for the Last Four Years

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#TheBahamas, September 18, 2021 – Free National Movement (FNM) Party Leader, Hubert A. Minnis thanked Bahamians for the last four years in tonight’s concession speech:

“Tonight I spoke with Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Philip Davis and offered my congratulations to him and his party on their victory at the polls.  I offered him my best wishes as his Government now faces the continued fight against COVID-19, and the restoration of our economy.

I would like to thank the tens of thousands of Bahamians from across The Bahamas who voted for Free National Movement candidates.  I also congratulate the FNM candidates who won seats in the House of Assembly.  I am in that number, and again my gratitude goes out to the people of Killarney for making me their representative for the fourth consecutive time.

I will lead the Free National Movement into the House as the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.  The Bahamas has a proud democratic tradition.  The people decide who serves as government.  Our party presented its vision for the future to Bahamians from the northern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, all the way to the southern islands of MICAL.

The people determined that they preferred the Progressive Liberal Party.  My party and I accept that result.  We are proud of our record the past four-plus years.

During our term we faced the most difficult times in Bahamian history.  In September 2019, Abaco, the Abaco Cays and Grand Bahama were struck by the strongest storm to hit The Bahamas.  Hurricane Dorian was one of the strongest storms recorded on our planet.  It caused generational destruction to our northern islands.  Six months later, we were in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout each crisis my Government worked hard to assist the Bahamian people.  On the northern islands we have had to rebuild roads, water systems, schools, docks, bridges and other critical infrastructure.

In the pandemic, we provided tens of millions of dollars per month in food and unemployment benefits to citizens, along with tax credits to businesses.  We fought hard to secure more than half a million doses of three of the best vaccines in the world.

The FNM has a proud legacy.  We have governed The Bahamas over four terms.  Our philosophy is to use the resources of government to provide opportunity to those who have historically been without.  That is why we invested in free preschool, providing early education to thousands of children. That is why we invested in free tertiary education at the University of The Bahamas and BTVI.

That is why we created the Over-the-Hill initiative to benefit people in grassroots communities with tax concessions and development assistance.  That is why we invested record amounts in Family Island infrastructure.  That is why we created the Small Business Development Centre, extending millions of dollars to help Bahamians realize their dreams.

Our belief in the Bahamian people was also evidenced in the manifesto we ran on in this election.  We pledged a Universal School Meals Program, expanded access to afterschool programs, $250 million to Bahamian small businesses over five years, expanded access to Crown Land, support for the arts and agriculture and fisheries, along with many more policies for the people.

We did not win this time.   But I say to the next generation of FNMs that you should stay firm to this party’s founding ideals.  Always put the people first, and be honest in government.

The people have asked us to be the opposition.  We will ensure the people’s resources are spent properly. We will ensure there is accountability.  We will oppose when necessary. We will agree when the Government’s plans are in the best interests of the people.

I thank my wife Patricia and my family for supporting me during this term, and throughout my life.  I also thank the officers, members and supporters of the Free National Movement for their assistance and encouragement during my time as leader.

And to the Bahamian people, I say a warm and heartfelt thank you for my time being your Prime Minister.  You are a strong, hardworking and resilient people.  Hurricane Dorian did not break you. The pandemic has not broken you.

You trust in the God who has brought us this far.  Trust that He will bring us further to brighter times.  Again, thank you. And may God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

 

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BAHAMAS: PM Philip Davis Swearing In Speech

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REMARKS BY

THE HON. PHILIP DAVIS,  M.P., QC,

PRIME MINISTER

ON THE OCCASION OF

HIS CEREMONIAL SWEARING-IN AS

PRIME MINISTER OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 19TH, 2021

BAHA MAR BALLROOM

 

 

Your Excellency, the Governor-General; First

Lady, Ann Marie Davis, Deputy Prime Minister

Elect, I. Chester Cooper and Mrs. Cooper, Honourable and Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

I wish to thank the Bahamian people who turned out and voted resoundingly for change.

As I said on Thursday night, you voted with brave hearts, and you voted with hearts full of hope for our country.

It was unfortunate that many Bahamians who wished to participate in this election were not able to do so. It was the first time in modern Bahamian history that so many voters were disenfranchised – and I hope it is the last. The right to vote is the essential right in a democracy.

Our new administration comes into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before.

In recent months, as I travelled the length and breadth of our beautiful country, many people shared with me their stories of hardship and need and despair.

Against that backdrop, we face the many crises borne out of the Covid-19 pandemic: tragic numbers of our people are becoming ill and dying; our hospitals in a state of collapse; our doctors and nurses and other frontline workers pleading for support to shore up our healthcare system.

The economy is also in decline, as we face an historically high deficit and debt. The news of the downgrade yesterday underscores the severity of the fiscal crisis and the urgency of moving quickly to address it.

The challenges in education also deeply concern me. Thousands of young Bahamians have missed out on their education during the past few years, first because of the displacement caused by Hurricane Dorian, then because of the way the Covid-19 crisis has been managed.  These are indeed big challenges.

Some have questioned why we want to serve when the problems are so difficult.  But my team and I offered ourselves for public service precisely because these problems are so difficult – and precisely because we believe that we have the right vision, the right policies, and the right team to take this country forward.  We will not fail if we keep the best interests of the Bahamian people as our guiding north star.

As a young boy growing up in Cat Island, I faced many hardships and obstacles.  I know what it is to be poor.

As a young man trying to find his first job, I faced doors that seemed always slammed shut.  I know what it is to feel disappointment.  As a lawyer trying to build a practice, I missed out on many opportunities because I didnt have the right connections.

I know what its like to be on the outside looking in.  In my family life, I know the ups and downs of raising children and sending them out into the world.  I am determined to take the wisdom gained from these experiences and use it to help others.  It is possible to overcome.  It is possible to work hard and succeed.  It is possible to forgive.  And it is possible to bring about the changes you wish to see.

These are the values that will inform my decisions in office.  In just under two years time, we will celebrate fifty years of The Bahamas being a fully independent, sovereign nation.  We must begin to deliver more purposefully the promise of Independence.   Independence is more than freedom from rule by others.  It is the defining purpose of our country, which says that every one of us is entitled to reach our fullest potential.

And so each day we will ask ourselves: What can we do to ensure that the aspirations and hopes of the Bahamian people are translated into opportunities and paths to success?  Deep in my heart I know that with God, all things are possible”.

If we work together, towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are indeed possible for our country and our people.  But no government can do great things on its own.  I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people.

We are going to listen.

We are going to consult widely.

And we are going to bring people together.

That is the best way to make progress as a nation.  No leader and no government should be isolated from the people.

I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy on that which has gone before us, so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent, and those who authored them are accountable.  We will govern in the interests of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few.  We will act in ways that rebuild trust between the government and the Bahamian people.  We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that its not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people.

There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together, we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us.  It will not happen overnight, but with steady progress, we will get there.

I pray God’s blessings and guidance upon us all, and in the words of St. Francis, “make us instruments of your peace; where there is discord, let me bring union; where there is doubt, let me bring faith; where there is despair, let me bring hope; where there is sadness, let me bring joy.”

I thank God for having blessed us with this beautiful country, and the bountiful birthright which we have inherited.

I thank the many people over the years who have supported me to this moment, where I am able to step into servant leadership for the benefit of the Bahamian people.

I thank my family, especially my wife Ann, and my children, my siblings, Alvin, Don, Craig and Trevor, my one and only sister, Diane, who every day continue to give me so much love and support.

And I thank the Bahamian people who have placed their faith and confidence in me and my team.

 

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