West Bay North candidate Rolston Anglin discussed an expansion of CIFEC’s technical and vocational offerings, and the challenge of attempting to integrate non-Caymanians into the public school system.
Anglin, who served as Minister of Education from 2009-2013, appeared on the Cayman Crosstalk radio show on Tuesday.
His opponent, incumbent Bernie Bush, did not participate in the debate — but arrived late and left after reading a statement protesting the December 2020 departure of former Crossalk host Woody DaCosta when Rooster Radio was acquired by Compass Media from Hurley’s Media.
On the subject of technical education, Anglin said, “If anyone followed my time as Minister of Education you would know one of the things that I identified as a huge weakness form the very outset was looking at what I experienced and what my friends experienced when I was going through the high school system.”
He said, “You came to the end, you sat your O Levels, you either did extremely well and you soared — or proverbially like that rock that you throw over the end of the cliff, a lot of children, way too many, fell.”
Anglin said, “That’s why I implemented CIFEC.”
He said CIFEC was designed to allow students to re-sit their Maths and English examinations, but then also to provide British Technical Education Council courses (BTECs).
He said the initial vision for CIFEC, which eventually was not followed, was to offer a wide range of technical/vocational subjects and opportunities to re-sit exams.
Anglin said, like everyone including himself, young people make mistakes. “All of a sudden those grades are a wake-up call. So what do we do when that wake-up call comes, is the most important.”
On the topic of segregation in Cayman public schools (which are 90% Caymanian), Anglin said when he went through high school lin the late ‘80s, students from private schools routinely transferred to the public system to complete their secondary education.
“The administration that was in place in the ‘90s took a decision not to build schools. The private sector stepped in. Private schools have stepped in, and they’ve stepped up,” he said.
He said he knows firsthand the benefits of people from all socioeconomic levels mixing at school. However, he said reintegration at this point is not a straightforward matter.
“People are trying to sell this notion that, ‘Oh well, just build a new school and open it to non-Caymanians and they’re just suddenly going to come.’ What is the guarantee that they’re going to go to those schools and not simply go to private schools?” he said.
“Education is a commodity. Parents are going to choose where to buy the education commodity that they feel is best for their children. It’s that simple and that’s the way life should be,” he said.
On the other hand, citing the subsidy that government provides to private schools, Anglin said in exchange private schools should reserve spots for low-income Caymanian families.
“We need to ensure that we allocate more seats in private schools for Caymanians,” he said.
(Editor’s Note: From 2012-2017 that government’s annual subsidy to private schools was about $1.5 million. In 2018 it decreased to $1 million, and in 2020 it was reduced to $500,000. It was zeroed-out for 2021. However, there is a different line-item allocation for ‘Private and Public School Grants’ which was $875,000 in 2020 and is set for $250,000 in 2021. Government’s overall spending on education was more than $95 million in 2019.)