Connect with us


Education Officials refute Ashley’s Learning Center claims; announce no solution to its pending closure



By Deandrea Hamilton



#TurksandCaicos, July 15, 2022 – The country had only heard glowing sentiments about Ashley’s Learning Center, a seven year old special needs school located in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos but a week ago on July 8 that all changed when a high level team from the TCI’s Ministry of Education held a press conference to rebut statements made by Angela Williams of ALC the day before.

Williams said a $70,000 grant, previously pre-approved by government was withdrawn when she refused to sign a binding agreement which she believes would compromise the quality of learning and care at ALC.

Thousands reacted with outrage at the announcement of the possible closure of the center and denial of funds by the Government.  The Ministry of Education however said, the version of circumstances presented by Angela Williams at her press event on July 7, were inaccurate.

From Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education: “Contrary to what may have been making rounds in social media yesterday, we as a Ministry remain committed to supporting our students and families, especially those with special needs.

Of paramount importance, I wish to address the misleading claims voiced by Ms. Williams, founder of Ashley’s Learning Center which were levied against the Ministry of Education and by extension, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government indicating that we failed to provide the requested financial support to aid in the continued operation of this institution… these statements are without merit.”

Minister Taylor called Angela Williams a “dear friend” and explained the long and strategic partnership with Ashley’s Learning Center has only been embraced by the Ministry.  She said this posture is held by the MoE with any private school assisting with the placement of students.

“We are open to receiving support, to providing support to anyone who wants to partner with the ministry towards meeting the needs of our students, however, we want to emphasize that  in doing so, there are standards that must be met.  We continue to have report of schools, in particular, with parents complaining  that their students are not getting the proper support that they need.  In this case, we have been working with the school, Ashley Learning Center, to provide the support to bring them up to the standard that we want,” explained Wesley Clerveaux, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education speaking during the press conference which was carried live.

Suddenly, with these characterizations, the school’s founder and its method of operation were put in a far less favourable spotlight.

While Ashley’s Learning Center had passed a site inspection and gained a “satisfactory” rating from the Ministry of Education on the suitability of its facility, this was not the same outcome for students’ time in class or in session in person.

“…in compliance with the guiding regulations, my team conducted a comprehensive assessment of the center to ensure compliance of the special education policy prior to the allocation of fund, this  is something anyone would do if they are going to give that sum of money to anyone or any organization,” the Minister said parents concerns about contact time were confirmed, “However there were major concerns in regard to program remediation, student contact time…” said Minister Taylor, who also shared the proposal for additional funding from ALC came in September 2021.

She said despite the unsolicited concerns from parents about contact time, the ministry was prepared to proceed to the next step to approve the additional funding to Ashley’s Learning Center, which already receives over $30,000 in government monies annually which meet the salary of one teacher and school fees of a few children.

“We were very content to the next step in an effort to award the additional funds as proposed,” said the minister.

However, it seemed the gulf on the clause within the contract was too great.   Williams said she was advised it would be detrimental and rejected the counter proposal by the Ministry of Education’s team.

Jas Walkin, the Special Needs Officer for the Ministry of Education said he often experienced confusion when dealing with ALC.

“One of the consistent challenges that we have experienced, is often times what is discussed and agreed in meetings with the proprietor of that school, when we would have left that meeting it’s a totally different interpretation.   And I believe that is what has matriculated yesterday and it is what I was so disappointed in.”

Walkin denied that the Ministry of Education has a “personal problem” with her yet, there were a steady stream of statements which make cloudy the reputation of the school and Williams; at one point the minister said Williams falsified information to her office.

“It was mentioned that there were 10 additional students what would benefit from that $71,000, actually that ten did not exist.  It was for the existing cohorts who are currently at the school,” said Rachel Taylor, TCI Minister of Education, Labour, Employment and Customer Service.

What however was missing in the press event was an announcement about where the students, who would no longer have Ashley’s Learning Center come September, would be placed.

“The money will still be there, the $30,000 for the teacher.  The money will still be there to assist her.  It is still there to assist.  We are not taking away anything.  Not anything we are taking away.  The $71,000, and as the minister, I must make it clear, was supposed to unpack an additional 10 students.  That didn’t exist. The students were there already.”

Each official rolled out a string of special needs programs and new funding on the horizon to support the near 200 special needs children in Turks and Caicos; including a document outlining a plan for a special needs center to house 60 students.

But to meet the immediate need of the displaced students of Ashley’s, there was no solution.

Caribbean News

Aquatics Center gets $3.7 Million allocation announces Sport Minister Rachel Taylor 



By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 



#TurksandCaicos, May 30, 2023 – After years of excellent performance in international competition from the Turks and Caicos’ young swimmers, despite having no official practice facilities the government says it is finally fulfilling its promise to build them an Olympic size pool.  Rachael Taylor, Minister of Education with responsibility for youth and sport made the announcement during the national budget debate on May 18th.

“The development of the Aquatics Centre under the Sports Commission remit n the amount of $3.7 million  will be a green initiative with solar panels and green spaces,” she said.

The TCI has brought home multiple medals from international events, including the CARIFTA Games and had its swimmers qualify for the Commonwealth Games as well.

All this has been done without proper practice facilities. The youngsters practice in whatever pool they can manage, some of them with sharp edges made for recreation rather than competitive swimming and others, which are too small.

The frustrating process has resulted in some talented youngsters simply giving up or reluctantly moving on to countries with better resources.

Taylor promised the pool to the athletes in a one on one meeting held with junior swimmers; last year the space had been announced as secured for construction to begin.

She did not give a timeline for the project.

Continue Reading

Bahamas News

Grand Bahama students celebrate 50th anniversary of Independence with march and rally



Bahamas Information Services
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas – Students representing all schools in Grand Bahama got in on the 50th anniversary of Independence on Wednesday, May 24 with a march and rally, from the Ministry for Grand Bahama to Open Park in downtown Freeport.
Accompanied by the marching bands of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, hundreds of students arrived at the rally site excited to participate in the scheduled festivities.
The event was held under the theme, “A Golden Jubilee Spectacular Parade and Rally” and was filled with performances by the students doing a poem including representatives from all schools on the island covering every major island.
 The Minister of State in the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training, the Hon. Zane Lightbourne, got the students involved by having them wave their flags and yell “Bahamas” whenever he said “242”.The participation of the students in the march and rally, said Minister Lightbourne, proves that “we are doing something right. No matter what is said, this is still the greatest little country anywhere on this planet.”
He said he was proud to be Bahamian just being at the rally seeing hundreds of students waving their flags. “I am proud.”
“Parents, you continue to be involved in our students lives because the formula for their success and the success of our educational system lie within our young people having parents and teachers work together to make them great and to maximize their potential.”
Minister Lightbourne pointed out that The Bahamas is doing exceptionally well internationally when compared to other countries per capita. The islands and people make the country recognized around the world as a beautiful place. It has the best food, best athletes.
In closing, he urged the students to be “all that you can be and be the kind of leader that can take our country to the next level.”
The Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force then performed for the students, taking the opportunity to engage the students encouraging them to dance with them.  Following the rally, students were treated to lunch from KFC, Wendy’s and Marco’s Pizza, courtesy of the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
(BIS Photos/Lisa Davis)

Continue Reading

Caribbean News

ICT Essay Competition Winners Announced



#TurksandCaicos, May 23, 2023 – The Department of Gender Affairs recently launched the International Girls in ICT 2023 Essay Competition under the theme “Digital Skills for Life.”

The competition’s goal was to help raise awareness and emphasize the value of women in ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and to inspire more girls and young women to pursue STEM-related fields of study. In addition, the competition further brought awareness to the abilities necessary to use ICT effectively to succeed in STEM fields.

Eleven (11) entries were submitted to the department from schools across the TCI. The entries were reviewed and graded by a panel of educators and Information Communication and Technology (ICT) expert judges. The final results revealed the following students as the competition’s top three winners:

1st Place – Janae Lewis (Oseta Jolly Primary School)

2nd Place – Alandson Pierre (H.J. Robinson High School)

3rd Place  – Chimezirim Orumba (Ianthe Pratt Primary School)

The Department of Gender Affairs expresses its profound gratitude and extends congratulations to all participants for their high interest.

Continue Reading