Abaco schools to receive new teachers, some students return to face-to-face this week

Abaco schools to receive new teachers, some students return to face-to-face this week
FILE PHOTO.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Patrick J. Bethel High School on Abaco is expected to receive several supply teachers to address the ongoing teacher shortage and will return to face-to-face learning in a phased manner by this week, according to Minister of Education Glenys Hanna-Martin.

This comes after several teachers and parents of Patrick J Bethel High School and JA Pinder Primary School demonstrated and staged a sick-out last week to protest the shortages on the island.

Education officials have said the challenge stems from the housing crisis in Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

Speaking to the matter at Cabinet, Hanna-Martin said: “The engagement of teachers is underway through the public service system but in the interim, we have recruited supply teachers who are trained experienced teachers, some of who have already retired, who’ve agreed to come back.

“With this new injection of teachers, that would reduce pressures on teachers. We are actively tackling this issue of teacher shortage.”

She said there was a staff meeting with those teachers who were briefed and it is expected that classes will resume face-to-face on a phased basis, starting with Grade 12 this week and building on the other grades.

“This is a great breakthrough for the children and teachers of the community that surrounds that school,” she said.

The education minister also addressed concerns surrounding the J A Pinder All-Age School in Sandy Point, Abaco.

She noted that the ministry has identified a principal who will be deployed to the school.

She said she met with parent and community stakeholders recently and a strategy was devised that would allow for that school to go face-to-face very soon.

She noted that the government has been trying to address challenges on the island on all fronts, including housing concerns, severe damage and housing concerns in the aftermath of the deadly 2019 storm, and perennial teacher shortages.

Hanna-Martin explained that the education system is short in key teaching areas, specifically generalists or primary school teachers and English and Mathematics teachers.

“The dilemma is not so many physical bodies the dilemma is finding teachers in key areas where there is scarcity,” she said.

“So we have to consider how when we move forward how we can cause for the training of teachers in specific areas to meet the demand of what is required in the nation.”

She added: “We will seek to ensure that children are not compromised by this concern.”

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.