11 July 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
Chamber of Commerce to host Education Summit. COVID-19 tests planned for school staff and some students. New and bigger government scholarships. Journalism summer camp for teens. Cayman journalist picked for investigation project.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Legislative Luncheon this week, and as usual the main speakers mentioned a few tidbits that could be categorised as ‘headline news’.
The main item on the agenda was Premier Wayne Panton‘s unveiling of the government’s border reopening plan as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play out.
In a moment, we’ll get to how that will affect the education system — but first, we’ll draw attention to Chamber President Mike Gibbs‘ announcement that the Chamber intends to host a major Education Summit this year to help “bridge the gap between the world of work and classroom”.
Saying that education reform is often regarded as a “political football that is tossed from administration to administration”, Gibbs said the Chamber’s Education Summit will be designed to “generate an open and frank conversation and exchange of views between educators and employers”.
He said the Chamber is attempting to meet with Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly to seek her support and partnership on the event.
After Gibbs’ speech, Panton delivered the keynote address. In his remarks, he did not mention the topic of education reform.
He did, however, detail the government’s phased plan to reopen Cayman to tourism over the next 6 months, with the earliest assessment for a full reopening projected for January 2022.
The limited reintroduction of tourism planned for Phase 3 of 5 is contingent on 80% of the local population being vaccinated against COVID-19.
Currently only people age 12 and over are eligible to receive the vaccination. According to ESO statistics, some 82% of the population is ‘working age’ (i.e. 15 and over).
Generally speaking, in order to reach the government’s 80% target, roughly 95% of the eligible population would need to be vaccinated.
Phase 4 of the government’s reopening plan eliminates quarantine requirements for ‘verified vaccinated’ international travellers, and is projected to start 14 Oct.
Under Phase 4, unvaccinated children over the age of 5 are required to have a negative PCR test for COVID before they are allowed to return to school.
Phase 4 also calls for ‘surveillance’ COVID testing for frontline workers, including school staff.
Those same requirements for local students and school staff hold for Phase 5, which removes inbound quarantine requirements for unvaccinated children under the age of 12. Phase 5 is projected to begin 18 Nov.
Cayman Current Editor Patrick Brendel and Cayman Life TV Founder April Cummings talk about the Education Summit, border reopening and other topics in this week’s episode of EdBeat.
The Ministry of Education has launched additional and expanded scholarship opportunities, including the new Cayman Scholar Award of up to $100,000 per year.
The Cayman Scholar Award will be given to the top male and top female student to study at “approved Ivy League or Gold Tiered Universities“.
Also, the Ministry announced the creation of an Education Teaching Scholarship of up to $35,000 per year for “students pursuing undergraduate studies in education focussing on classroom teaching”.
Additionally, the Ministry is increasing the award for standard Undergraduate Overseas Scholarships from $20,000 per year to $30,000 per year. This increase is for current and future students.
And finally, the Ministry is extending scholarship funding for students in International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination programmes. Before, students could only get scholarships for the 2nd year of study in those programmes; now, the government is making funding available for the 1st year as well.
Time is running out to apply for the free Journalism & Media Summer Camp, hosted by Minds Inspired and local media houses (including the Cayman Current).
Students age 14-17 have until 16 July (That’s Friday) to sign up for the 7-day camp, which takes place 9-13 Aug. with a pair of follow-up sessions on 17 and 20 Aug.
The two broad aims of the summer camp are for students to become more discerning media consumers and to sow seeds of interest in journalism and media as possible careers.
The camp will be split between ‘classroom’ sessions led by local journalists and ‘field trips’ to media houses. At the end of the camp, the students will produce journalism projects that will be published in local media. The Cayman Current has agreed to publish stories by the student journalists, and we’ll also create a page linking to all the students’ stories published in the other media as well.
The local media involved in the camp include: Radio Cayman, Caymanian Times, Cayman Current, Loop Cayman, Cayman News Service, Cayman Compass, Cayman Marl Road and Camana Bay Times.
On the topic of promoting local news media, if you happen to see local journalist Kayla Young, give her a high five, fist bump, or thumbs up. Young was selected by Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism to work on collaborative investigations with 5 other Caribbean journalists about the impact of climate change and COVID-19 in the region.
When complete, the project will be published by the Cayman Current and other participating media organisations.
Other winners come from Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, Haiti and Panama.
We realise that climate change and COVID-19 are beyond the Current’s usual scope of education coverage, but we feel that the project fits with the ‘public service journalism’ aspect of our mission. We trust that the work produced will be both newsworthy and interesting to our readers.
More from the Current
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 News Service: Homeschooling grew by more than 60% in 20/21
- The Guardian (UK): Cambridge University accused of Faustian pact in planned £400m deal with UAE
- The Guardian (UK): 640,000 children off school in England as Covid bubbles scrapped from 19 July
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Board of Education loses say over senior appointments
- The BVI Beacon: COI probes ESHS wall project
- BVI News: Summer programmes postponed as COVID cases balloon to 273
The Week Ahead
- Interview, Montessori By The Sea, Part 2
- Cayman’s education transparency, in regional context
- EdBeat, Episode 8