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At Catholic educators conference, MOE affirms importance of faith-based partners

Lorraine Armbrister, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education (MOE), touted the partnership between the MOE and the Catholic Board of Education since the Sisters of Charity established the first Catholic school in The Bahamas in 1889.

Armbrister addressed the 2019 Caribbean Association of Catholic Teachers’ (CACT) Biennial Conference recently on behalf of Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd and Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes.

The CACT commemorated its silver anniversary, July 20-25, 2019, at Melia Nassau Beach. The purpose of the conference was to bring local teacher associations together for spiritual, professional and social development. The theme for the conference was “Silver Past, Golden Future – Committed to Love, Teach and Serve”. Among the delegates, there were 100 educators and clergy from Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence, and representatives of Antigua & Barbuda, Trinidad & Tobago, Dominica and Jamaica.

Armbrister informed the delegates that as the second largest single provider of education in The Bahamas, MOE looks forward to continued collaboration with the Catholic Church.

“A sound education combined with strong family life is the greatest determinant of a good quality of life, and indeed we know of many instances in which a good, solid educational background has done much to fill the gap in instances where the family structure has been eroded in both The Bahamas and the wider Caribbean,” she said.

She said it is important for the Catholic education system to remain focused on its core value of promoting the dignity of the individual and ensuring that each child receives a quality education.

“The Catholic system must not be caught up in the current unfortunate trend which has emerged in The Bahamas and elsewhere where education is provided purely for the sake of financial gain or self-aggrandizement. Opportunities such as this one, which provide you with an opportunity for self-reflection and renewal, remain forever necessary and timely.”

Armbrister acknowledged the importance of service, and the spiritual and cultural aspects of the conference for the delegates.

“Enhanced professional development is, in fact, only one of our major goals in the MOE,” she said.

“It is clear also that the education agenda of the present and the future must place equal emphasis on student interest as it does on improving student aptitude; must not focus solely on academic rigor, [but also] must provide enhanced opportunities for technical and vocational educational and training as it does on reading, writing and arithmetic; and must be driven at its core by technology, if our students are to survive in our daily evolving world.

“It is for this reason that we at the Ministry of Education are placing renewed emphasis on achieving several other critical goals, including universal pre-school access by 2025, five years ahead of the UN target date of 2030; achieving an 85% minimum graduation rate in all government schools by 2030; [and] completing the full digitization and internet connectivity of all government schools and ancillary buildings throughout The Bahamas within the next few years — including the provision of tablets to all pre- and primary schools, and the provision of laptops, projectors and related equipment to all junior and senior high students and their teachers, at an initial investment of $17 million.”

Armbrister said MOE is keenly aware that it does not have all of the answers and has much to learn from faith-based partners, and other educational institutions. She told the delegates that the ministry continues to rely on them to give advice and direction.

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