Chamber forum: Bryan talks parental support, safety in schools; Cornwall declines to appear

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George Town Central incumbent Kenneth Bryan said the key to improving the Cayman Islands education system is to give more support to struggling parents, and to make students feel safe when they are in school.

Bryan participated in the 16th candidate forum hosted by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce on Monday night.

Challenger Frank Cornwall declined to attend the Chamber forum, just as he declined to participate in an earlier debate on the Cayman Crosstalk radio show.

Reiterating his comments in the previous debate, Bryan refrained from calling for specific changes to the education system itself, in favour of advocating for more help for families, such as by offering free after-school programmes for students.

“I don’t fundamentally think the majority of the problem is with the curriculum,” he said. “I think that much of the school issues that we have are more to do at home — outside the school, not inside the school.”

Many parents (especially single parents making minimum wage) are facing a litany of economic and social pressures, and that leaves little quality time to spend with their children, Bryan said.

“The stresses at home, I think, are coming into our school system,” he said.

“We have to help families, and then we can help the education system,” he said.

Asked about the biggest issues facing Cayman’s youth, Bryan said he is “embarrassed by the fights and bullying and the drugs” in the school system.

“Can you imagine a child trying to learn and get good grades, worrying if someone is going to beat them up or if they’re going to be around marijuana?” he said.

[Editor’s Note: See our analysis of high school student suspensions, showing a decade of decline in ‘exclusions’, though concerns persist around fighting and drugs.]

The 17th candidates forum hosted by the Chamber takes place Tuesday, 30 March, and features candidates from George Town South. The debates are posted on various media, including the Chamber’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

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