27 June 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
Update on the Red Bay Primary School investigation. Rules governing religion in public schools. COVID-19’s impact on education in neighbouring countries. EdBeat: Episode Five. STEM opportunities at UCCI.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
It’s been more than 6 weeks since an alleged incident at Red Bay Primary School initiated an intervention by police and child protection authorities.
We checked in on it, and a Ministry of Education spokesperson said, “The investigation is still ongoing.”
If you need your memory jogged, on 7 May education officials said the joint Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) had been contacted and that staff reported to be involved were being “relocated from schools until the investigation is completed“.
The public school year ends 9 July, meaning Red Bay is in the final 2 weeks of school.
Legislative representatives for the area have said it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on the situation until the investigation concludes.
While some media organisations have reported the nature of the incident and the names of the people alleged to have been involved, other outlets (including the Current) haven’t felt comfortable reporting information that we haven’t been able to confirm.
For the record, we have heard from more than a dozen parents, teachers and others about the situation at Red Bay. Everybody had heard about the allegations, but nobody could (or would) definitively say it did happen as described — or that it didn’t.
Our email and phone line remain open …
Without getting into specifics, the allegations at Red Bay have sparked more fundamental questions about the role, and regulations, of religion in Cayman’s public schools.
We submitted an open records request to the Ministry, seeking “Rules, regulations, guidance, guidelines or other advice on the teaching, promotion, dissemination or displays of religion, faith or spirituality in government schools.”
In response, they directed us to the Education Law, which states, “Non-denominational religious worship and instruction shall be given in every Government school“.
There’s also guidance in regard to taking a student’s personal beliefs into account when dealing with disciplinary issues or absences from school.
Any further specifics, it appears, would be up to individual school leaders.
We think it’s important to note that the rules (or lack thereof) around religion in Cayman government schools are not dissimilar to the approach used in the UK education system.
Cayman Life TV’s April Cummings and Cayman Current editor Patrick Brendel talked more about Red Bay and religion in schools during this week’s episode of EdBeat.
During the raging global pandemic, the past school year in Cayman has been about as ‘normal’ as possible. Our country’s COVID-free environment has largely spared us from social distancing, mask requirements or outright school closures.
Nearly every other jurisdiction hasn’t been so fortunate.
We checked in on 9 territories that are near Cayman geographically or with whom Cayman shares close ties. Among those, Cayman has had the ‘least’ COVID and the most vaccinations — and Cayman is the only place where the school year started on-time, in-person and without interruption.
We think this chart sums up the situation:
University College of the Cayman Islands announced an array of opportunities related to STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
First, UCCI has 3 new scholarships for STEM study, each of which has an annual value of $2,500. The scholarships are being offered by Health City Cayman Islands, Water Authority – Cayman, and UCCI Information Technology.
The application deadline is 16 July.
Next, Cisco Systems is sponsoring a 2-day virtual STEM Summit on the UCCI campus on 2-3 Aug, as part of Cisco’s WomenRock-IT movement.
There are 35 spots available for young women age 14-17. There are potential travel scholarships for students commuting from the Sister Islands.
The application deadline for the STEM Summit is 30 June. That’s Wednesday, so don’t delay!
More from the Current
- Ministry of Education celebrates the Lighthouse School’s ‘Good’ rating
- Special events promote early registration at UCCI
Around The Web
The Current is a central resource for education journalism by others, including regional and international news relevant to Cayman education. (Find our running collection of links here.)
- Cayman Compass ($): John Gray celebrates ‘good’ rating
- Cayman Compass ($): Investment course teaches students to ‘win with money’
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Veteran educator attacks government over results secrecy
- The Guardian (UK): Quarter of a million children in England missed school last week due to Covid
- Miami Herald ($): Miami schools predict unprecedented mental health needs for returning students this fall
- The Guardian (UK): Ofsted boss warns ‘militant’ activism in schools is a threat to education
- The BVI Beacon: HOA approves next step for med school
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): OBA concerned by Act’s ‛concentration of power
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): It’s been a challenging year for retiring MSA principal Susan
The Week Ahead
- Cayman’s education transparency, in regional context
- EdBeat, Episode 6