#TurksandCaicos, August 17, 2021 – Turks & Caicos Minister of Education Updates
When & How school will open
Public schools will officially reopen on September 6 and when they do , the hybrid formula for teaching will be shelved for a return to in person classes.
Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education was a part of a press conference on Thursday (August 12) evening from the Office of the Premier and explained that waiting lists only exist because there is a flurry of interest to get children who were once in the private school system, into the public school system.
Students are Waiting
Some 240 students are on the waiting list to enter infant one, and primary school with the longest list at the high school level, 133 hopeful students.
Minister Taylor shared social distancing has cut down on how many can be admitted at the infant, primary and high school levels, but that her team is working on it.
On August 23, said the Director of Education, Edgar Howell parents will know the status of their application for a space in the public school system.
More money, more scholarships
Twenty four more people were awarded international scholarships this year informed the minister of education when she hosted a joint press conference with the ministry of health last Thursday.
Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education announced $4,102,844 in scholarships were approved, some she said are for full scholarships, others for partial scholarships and the balance are grants which are given to students who want to pursue studies outside of the priority areas.
While this year’s group will go through, and it is announced as some 86 applicants who were successful for college abroad; by next year, the Cabinet wants to see a more streamlined approach aligning awardees with the labour force needs of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
This year, 181 people applied for scholarships; 86 were approved. It demonstrated an increase in interest and awardees over 2020, where 156 candidates applied and 62 scholarships were given – the data is from the category of international studies.
Students continuing their degree programs are being supported to the tune of $1.45 million; local and international studies cumulatively will cost $ 2.35 million.
Students who will pursue ‘A’ Levels at British West Indies Collegiate and the TCI Community College have attracted around $270,000 in educational funding.
International awardees are already selected and Minister Taylor informed that a meeting which was due to be held on Monday August 16, would determine the local awardees for the upcoming academic year.
Teachers must be vaxxed or test weekly
Ministry of Education is taking a firm stand with workers in the Department and will require that all staff be vaccinated for Covid-19 or regularly tested at their own expense; the frequency of testing is not stated in a notice dated August 9 which is expected to impact the coming 2021-2022 academic year.
This is the kind of stand that many countries are taking in sectors like health care, at home care givers for elderly, public sector and education.
Turks and Caicos is taking the same course it seems, even though so far the measures have resulted in eruptions of protests, petitions and demonstrations and violence.
School in for Gov’t Teachers August 23
There are 393 teachers registered in the Turks and Caicos government school system, 246 of them are fully vaccinated for Covid-19 which equates to 63 per cent.
Day one for those teachers is August 23rd; this will allow for at least two workshops hosted by the Ministry of Education to ready teachers for new systems in learning and to review the health protocols.
Most significantly, it will also allow Covid-19 antigen testing to be conducted on these staffers ahead of school reopening, and this will repeat weekly. Face covering and social distancing mandates remain in effect for Turks and Caicos and students will return to face to face learning on September 6th all announcements from the Minister of Education Rachel Taylor in a Thursday press conference.
Minister Taylor explained the earlier time for teachers to report for duty also allows for screening of children who may have special needs.
The two weeks said the minister gives teachers time to prepare their classrooms and enables individual public schools to run their own programs.
Two schools have fully vaccinated teachers; they are Louise Garland Thomas High in Provo and the HJ Robinson High in Grand Turk.
The minister encouraged all teachers to get vaccinated.
Over 68,000 STAYED HOME in Bahamas Elections; We have BEST and WORST for Voter Participation
#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – The just-concluded General Election in Bahamas has presented a new shift in governance. The former ruling part, Free National Movement, lost nearly all the electoral seats it secured in the 2017 general elections. However, this seems a swap of the Progressive Liberal party’s score in the 2017 general elections in which the former ruling party (FNM) won nearly all the parliamentary seats.
68,000 STAYED AWAY
While the FNM secured 35 out of 39 seats in the 2017 ballot, leaving only four slots for the Opposition, the 2021 elections presented “new day” with the Opposition clinching 32 parliamentary seats, leaving the former ruling party FNM with only seven slots.
However, the election results showed a significant drop in voter turnout compared to the 2017 election results. Out of 194,494 registered voters in The Bahamas, only 126,414 voted, translating to 65 per cent voter turnout.
PREVIOUS ELECTION HIGHER
This was different from the previous election in which 160,407 out of 181,543 registered voters cast their ballots, translating to a remarkable 88.36 per cent voter turnout.
Being the first election in the island nation since the Covid-19 struck the Caribbean; the dismal voter turnout could be attributed to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in The Bahamas and the current countermeasures taken by individuals to avoid contracting the deadly virus.
It could also be voter apathy.
BEST IN SHOW
Despite coronavirus prevalence in the country, North Andros & Berry Islands, Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and Mangrove Cay & South Andros constituencies recorded an impressive voter turnout of 77.99 per cent, 76.11 per cent and 73.06 per cent respectively.
North Andros & Berry Islands had 2,126 out of 2,569 registered voters cast their ballots, followed by 1,255 out of 1,622 in Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and 1,706 out of 2,164 registered voters in Mangrove Cay & South Andros.
VERY LOW SHOW
The bottom three constituencies in terms of voter turnout include Bamboo Town, which had 3,436 out of 5,838 (58.63 per cent) registered voters cast their ballot, followed by Garden Hills with 3,033 out of 5,287 (57.09 per cent), and Central & South Abaco falling at the bottom of the list with 1,844 out of 3,271 (55.96 per cent).
COVID Works programme launched by Ministry of Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development
#TurksandCaicos, September 21, 2021 – The Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development, the Honourable Akierra Mary Deanne Missick and the Physical Planning & Infrastructure Development team are pleased to announce the launch of the COVID WORKS Programme, that went live on September 1, 2021.
The Programme seeks to support many who have lost jobs and livelihoods, while providing labour intensive work for economic exchange opportunities for persons to be engaged.
Works are set out in three (3) levels and comprise a variety of categories example, cleaning, road works, demolition and general construction to name a few.
Level 1 – value $1,500 – $9,999
Level 2 – value $10,000 – $39,999
Level 3 – value $40,000 – $70,000
Commenting on the launch of the programme, Hon. Missick said, “We are very much mindful of the impact that restrictions introduced by Government in an effort to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, has had on the islands, many continue to experience financial hardship. Whilst, the hospitality and construction sectors in Providenciales have rebounded well, as an Administration, we cannot rest knowing that other industries are still limping along.
As a result, during the remainder of this financial year, the Turks & Caicos Islands Government has now launched the COVID Works Programme to provide an opportunity for Petty and Small Contractors to assist the Government in the enhancement of our communities, through programmed works, to the benefit of all of us as residents”.
The Minister went on to note, “This Programme is set to the tune of US$5,000,000.00, and works will be rolled out across the Islands in batches, as we have to ensure that we do not go beyond the allotted expenditure and that financial oversight and transparency are maintained.”
The initial batch of works for South Caicos, which comprised the following, was returned and evaluated on Monday, September 13, 2021 and included:
Demolition- Queen’s Shed
Demolition- Distribution Concrete Tank
Demolition- Old Clinic Building
Demolition- DECR Building
Demolition- Library Building
Repair of Water Cistern
Works for Grand Turk included:
Demolition- Blood Bank Building
Demolition- Geriatric Ward Building
Demolition- Kitchen Building
Demolition- X-ray Building
All returning bids must be sent to the COVID Works email at email@example.com
Kindly note that as of Monday, September 20, 2021, the following works are planned to be released:
Beach Cleaning (Eastern portion of Grand Turk)
Street Cleaning (All areas)
Beach cleaning (Areas of Shore Club and Five Cays)
Street Cleaning (All areas)
A number of other works for Middle & North Caicos, as well as Salt Cay will be released shortly. This is a six month program that will spread throughout the TCI and we encourage persons to continue to register via firstname.lastname@example.org or the local Public Works Department and District Commissioners’ offices, to be eligible for this opportunity.
These works will continue on a monthly basis and the programme will come to an end in March 2022.
BAHAMAS: Nine new Cabinet ministers sworn-in
#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis today introduced the first set of new Cabinet ministers with portfolios covering the Attorney General, Foreign Affairs, Education, Works and Public Utilities, Health and Wellness, Government Affairs, Agriculture, National Security and Legal Affairs.
The nine ministers were sworn-in on Monday 20 September 2021 by Governor-General the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith during ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Center.
“They are the initial members of a Cabinet which will reflect the breadth and depth of the competencies and characteristics of our team: experience combined with innovation; expertise combined with a willingness to see things anew; integrity and a strong sense of purpose,” said Prime Minister Davis.
“They are receiving these appointments because of their determination to get things done.”
- Senator the Hon. L. Ryan Pinder, Attorney General;
- Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service;
- Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education, and Technical and Vocational Training;
- Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Utilities;
- Dr. Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness;
- Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of Government Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate;
- Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs;
- Hon. Wayne Munroe, Minister of National Security; and
- Hon. Jomo Campbell, Minister of State for Legal Affairs.
“I am confident that these first-appointed members of our Cabinet team are ready to deliver on the promise of a New Day for our Bahamas,” said the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Davis pledged to move with urgency to address the economic and health crises that are faced by The Bahamas.
Many thousands of Bahamians are out of work, people are losing too many loved ones to the COVID-19 virus and Bahamian schoolchildren are falling behind, said Prime Minister Davis.
“I want to be clear: we are not here to tinker at the edges of these problems,” said the Prime Minister.
“We are here to meet them head on.”
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