No School Reopening Plan Ready from TCI Ministry of Education
#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – August 9, 2020 — Covid-19 forced school campuses across the Turks and Caicos to be closed since Easter but Government has squandered that five-months and is not ready with an approved plan for Education in the new normal; thousands are disappointed as school is proposed to begin in three weeks.
“For the past couple of months we have been working with them to establish protocols with the best practice methods to getting children back in schools,” said Edwin Astwood, Minister of Health, Agriculture, Sports & Human Services when asked about his partnership with the Education.
It was a reply, bereft of details when school reopening has already been announced for August 31.
Frustrating for families and schools is that despite the sacrifices to follow Emergency Orders and coronavirus health protocols, they are still facing the 2020-2021 academic year with uncertainty.
A two-week Easter break turned into months and months away from traditional learning for thousands of students, their teachers and faculty. It also transformed homes into schools; many parents admittedly were ill-equipped to balance working from home or having no work at all and becoming teacher extraordinaire.
On Friday, during a press conference, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education – who were both present – could offer no plan and no assurances about what learning at school campuses will look like for the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The plan was not ready for presentation at the press conference, which was carried live on local TV and social media. The plan has also not been presented to any schools, anywhere across the country – public or private.
There are 42 schools nationwide. The Minister of Education, Karen Malcolm will begin touring and consulting with schools this week. It was said an update will also be given by the Minister within the week.
“We have been doing consultation throughout, but we are doing a wider consultation as to where persons minds are,” said Premier Sharlene Robinson.
“We are aware that people are eager, we are also aware that parents have determined themselves that their children will not be coming into the physical space. Let us be real in Turks and Caicos, we cannot achieve social distancing with the numbers of children we have in classes, so we need to take a unique approach to what we have existing in Turks and Caicos.”
These illustrated uncertainties underscore the dire need for the process of reopening to have long been started.
Regionally, Education Ministers had begun sharing their strategies for a return to school since June.
“The Minister would have presented protocols and a reopening strategy to Cabinet; she will be going out with her team to consult but again we are watching what is happening around the world, this is dynamic. We can plan but things can change. The Minister has already highlighted some of the concerns we have but there will be consultation in this week,” said Premier Sharlene Robinson.
In Jamaica, there is a staggered approach, including a simulation day to test whether ideas on paper will actually work.
In the Cayman Islands, a School Reopening Guidance document has been available online since June 24; it addresses start dates and learning styles for students from preschool age.
School re-openings are delicate in this post-COVID world.
Institutions will have to ensure there is proper physical distancing; increased janitorial services; sufficient handwashing stations; protection especially for those with underlying health conditions; adequate personal protective gear; clear and consistent communication and they must ensure the environments remain conducive to quality learning experiences and healthy social development for all.
Even the most persnickety precautions can be undermined by one COVID-19 infected person.
It therefore seems a high-risk roll of the dice by the Ministries responsible for education, youth, health and sports to have not focused greater attention on a reopening plan, which by now would have been shared with the public and supported by a public information campaign. Very easily, the leading place to contract COVID-19 in the Turks and Caicos Islands could shift from workplaces to school campuses; a lesson even the most astute student would want to avoid.
Millions to come from FSC
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Revenue from the Turks and Caicos’ Financial Services Sector will more than double in the next few years, if E Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister gets his way. It ‘s one of the reasons the country is investing so much capital into getting off of the EU blacklist and becoming a secure trustworthy financial destination.
“The FSC’s revenues for 2020/21 was $10.5M— the figures for 2021/22, would be about similar,” he said. He further explained that $10.5 million from the FSC represented about 2.6 percent of the country’s 408.5-million-dollar revenue. Though it increased to $14 million in the 2021/22 financial year, finance is still a small fry compared to tourism or even stamp duties but that will change, says Saunders.
“My revenue goal for the Government by the year 2029 [or] the election after the next election – is $500M. By that time, I want the financial sector (FSC) revenues to represent at least 5% ($25M). So that’s my goal for the financial sector by 2029.”
This goal, should it be met, would increase the Government’s revenue by 100 million dollars, a significant increase in spending power for local upgrades and improvements for Turks and Caicos residents and visitors.
Saunders says it’s time for the TCI to diversify its sources of revenue to make sure that what happened in the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw residents out of a job for months, will not happen again. Tourism now makes up around 80 percent of the country’s GDP. The Minister of Finance wants to push that down to 60 or even 50 percent.
New ASHLEY’S LEARNING CENTRE CONCERT
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – Musicians from the New World Symphony will be in the Turks and Caicos in concert next month and residents are invited to attend in support of the future of Ashley’s Learning Center.
A fairly young orchestral academy based in Miami, the New World Symphony was launched in the 1980s by 1987, Michael Tilson Thomas and Ted Arison,Carnival Cruises founder. From the 1500 applicants who vie for a spot each year, the symphony accepts around 35 music graduates annually for training fellowships.
A select few of those graduates will be in country on April 8th headlining at the Ashley’s Learning Center concert ‘We’re all in this together’. The concert which also feature local artistes will be held at Brayton Hall on Venetian Road from 6 pm to 8:30 pm
Tickets are available ON ISLEHELP $75 PER GENERAL SEAT $125 PER PREMIUM SEAT $195 PER GALLERY SEAT – with /FREFRESHMENTS.
For TICKET RESERVATIONs you can call: 649-341-2304 or email EVENTS@ASHLEYSLEARNINGCENTER.ORG
Women’s Health Connectivity and health a study for TCI’S benefit
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – As the country moves toward new fiber optic connectivity, bridging the digital divide could be a game changer for healthcare and other family-friendly services in the TCI.
The power of universal digital connectivity across countries was one of the recurring themes when the United Nations in partnership with the Network of Afro Caribbean Women and the Diaspora recently explored how technology, innovation and education are being used to address women’s health issues.
The session aimed to highlight success stories and explore how those processes can be replicated to help women and girls globally including in The Turks and Caicos.
The UN explained that despite holding a 70 percent majority in healthcare jobs, women are poorly represented in leadership roles and subject to systemic gender inequalities that can make receiving healthcare challenging.
As delegates from Chile and Rwanda, who were also partners in the session, shared the upgrades to their countries’ systems that had significantly improved the level of care available to their women, digital connectivity was a deciding factor.
In Rwanda the health ministries have begun to use drones to deliver medicine, SMS messages to alert about health threats and a completely digitized health care that eliminates paper documents for pregnant women and makes records accessible to any doctor, immediately.
Rwandan delegate, Rose Rwabuhihi shared tips that countries should keep in mind when trying to implement new processes to benefit women and the wider community.
- Partnership and sustainability are key factors to successful programs. She urged governments not to give up on projects or allow their partners to give up on them halfway.
- Education campaigns to introduce residents to the technology: “We need to build skills and deepen the knowledge so they can use the innovations that have been put in place especially in rural areas.
Poor connectivity and technological issues have plagued the TCI for years especially in the islands outside of Providenciales. Government has substantially acknowledged this disparity in communications services and is investing in a new undersea cable to augment services in the Turks and Caicos.
The UNs perspectives can now ignite a fire for even more family friendly, digital services.
In fact,Senator Yasna Provoste Campillay, the Chilean Delegate explained how connectivity and videoconferencing had been used to reach the county’s women in the most rural of areas. Chile is a long country, its landmass spread lengthwise creating unique communication challenges. While healthcare in Chile is separated by length the Turks and Caicos islands are disconnected by the ocean and solutions that prove useful for the South American country could well be worth implementing locally.
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