#TheBahamas, February 23, 2021 – As public schools in New Providence, Exuma, Eleuthera and Abaco open and students return to the classroom for in-person learning beginning February 23, 2020, Director of Education, Dr. Marcellus Taylor, appealed to parents to communicate with school officials and work together as a team for a successful transition.
“We know that challenges will exist,” said Director Taylor. “Colleagues in Grand Bahama, Andros and other islands that have engaged in face-to-face [learning] can attest to this but they have been able to meet the challenges because in those areas they have worked together as a team. I don’t see why in New Providence, Eleuthera, Exuma and Abaco we cannot do the same. Every stakeholder has a role to play. The Department of Education and the Ministry of Education (MOE) are doing our part to make the schools safe and to provide quality education for our children. We call on you to do your part in ensuring that this endeavor is successful.”
The MOE hosted a press conference Monday, February 22, 2021 at its headquarters on University Drive to announce plans for the operation of face-to-face instruction for the aforementioned islands. Senior education officials in attendance included: Lorraine Armbrister, Permanent Secretary; Serethea Clarke, Undersecretary; Julian Anderson and Sharon Poitier, Deputy Directors of Education.
The Ministry closed its school doors on Monday, March 16th, 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, most of the MOE schools in New Providence, Abaco, Eleuthera and Exuma, will open using a hybrid model.
“We want to be very clear that schools opened in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on October 5, 2020. At that time most of the schools opened using a virtual platform. However, a number of schools across the Commonwealth of The Bahamas were face-to-face from day one. Islands such as Cat Island in the MICAL District and Grand Bahama were face to face since then. What we are doing at this point is permitting the final batch of schools to engage in some form of face-to-face instruction,” said the Director.
The three models presented by the MOE are: face-to face, hybrid, and remote/virtual learning.
“The preferred model for us is face-to face. As much as we can move towards face-to-face that is our intent. We will ensure that our students and teachers and all involved in the education enterprise are safe during the COVID-19 era. But we will never forget what our main remit is, which is to provide quality educational services,” said Mr. Taylor.
The MOE is guided by a Strategic Plan for the Safe Reopening of Schools which was produced at the beginning of the new school year, outlines health and safety measures, and engaged more than 3,000 stakeholders who assisted in finalizing its completion.
In preparation for the opening of schools, the MOE has undertaken the following: intensive training of stakeholders including janitorial staff, implemented a system of daily checks for school bus operators with help of support staff, procurement of high quality, commercial grade cleaning agents and other supplies.
Under the hybrid model, students will attend school on a reduced schedule but are expected to engage in learning activities when not in school.
“The learning activities when the students are remote will be either delivered virtually just as they were last week and/or students receiving work from their teachers to take home with them so they can work on it while they are away from school.
“This is very key and critical and we want parents to be aware of this so you are cooperating with the schools, sending your child to school on the days when they are supposed to be there, and also on the days when they are not supposed to be there, making the appropriate arrangements.”
The Director remarked that under the health and safety protocols, the Ministry of Health has mandated that not more than 50 per cent of the student population is in school at any time.
The Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd, Minister of Education, said in order to determine the best way to transition schools in respective islands from remote/virtual learning, to face-to-face instruction, executives in the Department of Education engaged in internal and external consultations and received information from districts and schools that had already returned to face-to-face instruction.
“What that team learned in effect was that the Ministry needed to address several critical areas: health and safety, building equipment and supplies, staffing, transportation, training and care of students. To a very large extent these factors have not only been considered, but addressed. Where they haven’t been that particular school will not recommence face-to-face instructions until they are,” said Minister Lloyd.
By Kathryn Campbell (BIS)
(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)
National Food Policy to be created in the Bahamas
By Shanieka Smith
#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs in the Bahamas will see the creation of a National Food Policy geared towards ensuring food security on the island.
“This agricultural policy would encompass a holistic approach and incorporate regulations, legislation, and other aspects to assist the farmers who have not really gotten the attention they deserve for a long time,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Hon. Clay Sweeting.
Other initiatives within the agriculture sector will also be implemented, such as the digitalization of applications and forms, which will make farming more efficient.
Clay said, “we have already digitalized for the most part the Department of Marine Resources and soon we will unveil new services such as dog licences, import permits, and other services needed for a successful agricultural sector.”
The construction of the Cultivation Centres (TCC) in Eleuthera and New Providence with produce exchange, food processing kitchens and farm stores will continue.
Sweeting said he hopes these initiatives will help to decrease the country’s yearly $1 billion food import bill.
Consumer protection, 85 businesses to be put under watch
By Dana Malcolm
February 2, 2023 – Grocery stores and dozens of other businesses will be under the microscope soon as the government begins aggressively enforcing the Consumer Protection Ordinance passed back in 2016 with an all-new Compliance and Regulatory Enforcement (C.A.R.E) Drive.
Carried out by the Department of Trade, Industry, and Fair Competition the drive aims to “actively educate providers whilst enforcing the main provisions to protect consumers under the Consumer Protection Ordinance,” a press release explained.
Firstly, Consumer Officers charged with protecting the people of the TCI from unfair business practices will be assessing the prices of selected breadbasket items in 23 different stores countrywide each month to see whether price gouging is being carried out by businesses.
Breadbasket items are currently duty-free under the Food and Fuel Tax Break until the end of the financial year in March and all savings from those tax exemptions should be passed on directly to the consumer. After each assessment, which will continue for several months at least a monthly price report will be published on the Department of Trade’s website.
In addition, the Consumer Officers will be monitoring other business activities across the country “to ensure that providers are compliant with their duties to consumers.”
Those responsibilities include:
- Giving customers certain basic information about goods and services being sold;
- Informing consumers about terms and conditions before any payment is made (e.g., warranties, refunds, returns, exchanges, etc.) and;
- Abstaining from misleading and deceptive conduct, false representation and unfair business practices.
The government says they will reach at least 85 businesses with the C.A.R.E. Drive but they did not indicate the process behind how these businesses had been singled out. Non-compliant ones will be fined after a thorough investigation and warnings are issued by the Department of Trade.
With this in mind, business owners are being encouraged to familiarize themselves with their duties under the Ordinance lest they be caught in breach. The government did not say what entities would be assessed and whether that included major retail grocery stores, gasoline dealers, water companies, electricity providers, telecommunications companies and other essential providers of the services that all islanders spend on.
74 Foreign Nationals Convicted in The Magistrate’s Court
#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – In Magistrate’s Court #1 today, seventy-two (72) foreign nationals were arraigned before Magistrate Algernon Allen Jr. for various immigration offenses.
Thirty-two (32) Cuban nationals were convicted of Illegal Landing. Two (2) of them were subsequently sentenced to four months in the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS). Thirty (30) were conditionally discharged and released to the Department of Immigration to be deported.
A total of forty (40) Haitian nationals were convicted of Illegal Landing. Two (2) received custodial sentences of three months at BDOCS, and thirty-seven (37) were conditionally discharged and released to the Department to be deported. In addition to the charge of Illegal Landing, one (1) Haitian man was also convicted of Knowingly Attempting to Misleading an Immigration Officer and subsequently sentenced to six months at BDOCS on each count. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Three (3) Haitian nationals were also charged with Overstaying. Two (2) pleaded guilty and were convicted. Respectively they were fined $2,000.00 or, in default of payment, served six months at BDOCS, conditionally discharged, and deported. One (1) Haitian female pleaded not guilty, and the matter was adjourned to a later date. Upon payment of fines, completion of sentences, and discharge, all persons were ordered to be turned over to the Department of Immigration for deportation.
The Department remains committed to executing our mandate to ensure compliance with the Statue Laws of our country.
For more information, call the Public Relations Unit at 1-242-322-7530, visit our website at www.immigration.gov.bs, or call our Investigation hotline anonymously, at 1-242-604-0249.
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