Hanna-Martin calls education situation on Abaco “very, very, very urgent”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A shortage of teachers on Abaco has left students on the island with solely virtual learning for nearly two years, even as some schools on other Family Islands prepare to return to full face-to-face learning.
The island has largely remained in a state of recovery since Hurricane Dorian in September 2019.
Rebuilding efforts and repairs have been hampered by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Even with the best efforts, the current complement will not allow 100 percent, even though I might tell you that you’re going to soon see other parts of the nation going 100 percent.
– Minister of Education Glenys Hanna-Martin
During a parent-teacher association meeting on Wednesday, a concerned parent asked if the government has considered bringing in additional educators from abroad.
In response, Minister of Education Glenys Hanna-Martin said the government will find the teachers as children must get back in classrooms.
She described the situation as urgent.
“We are going to find the teachers,” she told parents and residents gathered.
“We are going to get them here.
“We want them in the classrooms as soon as possible and we are going back to the table to see how we can make that happen quickly.”
Hanna-Martin advised that the ministry will likely implement a hybrid model of virtual and in-person learning due to the “current complement”.
“Even with the best efforts, the current complement will not allow 100 percent, even though I might tell you that you’re going to soon see other parts of the nation going 100 percent,” the minister said.
“This school has a serious peculiarity that we have to — this has to [be] at the front and center because this is an urgent situation.
“The children are still in virtual mode; they’re not even in hybrid.
“That is very, very, very urgent.”
We’re engaging additional teachers, additional security staff, additional janitorial staff, additional staff to augment the staffing in the public school system.
– Permanent Secretary Lorraine Armbrister
Though she could not provide a timeline, Hanna-Martin said the government is urgently moving on the matter.
Lorraine Armbrister, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, noted that an additional 90 teachers will be engaged into the education system, but she could not say how many would be deployed to Abaco.
But the permanent secretary acknowledged the “great deficit” of teachers on the island and said officials are sensitive to the challenge.
“We’re engaging additional teachers, additional security staff, additional janitorial staff, additional staff to augment the staffing in the public school system,” she said.