5 Sept. 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
We celebrate the Cayman Current’s first birthday. Parts of new John Gray open. EdBeat is back. New St. Ignatius principal is gone. Showcasing the work of local student journalists.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Message from the Editor
Happy birthday to us!
We can hardly believe it, but it’s been an entire year since the Cayman Current launched at the beginning of September 2020.
As our readers know, the Current is the Cayman Islands’ first non-profit public service journalism organisation. Our mission is to improve the country’s education system by informing the public, engaging the community and facilitating discourse on this vital issue.
Our journey over the past 12 months hasn’t always been easy, but with a lot of work (and a lot of help) we’ve come a long way in pursuit of our organisational goals.
Here are some of our accomplishments in our first year:
- 400 stories on local education
- 50 Weekly Current newsletters
- 11 episodes of EdBeat
- Cayman Islands Schools Explorer interactive guide
- Cayman Islands Scholarships Directory
- Cayman Current Document Library
- Appeared in Cayman Compass, Cayman Life TV, Cayman News Service, Cayman Marl Road, Radio Cayman, Yello Media
- Presentations on education to Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, Minds Inspired Journalism & Media Summer Camp
We’ve attracted tens of thousands of visitors to our CaymanCurrent.org website, more than a thousand followers on social media, and hundreds of subscribers to this Weekly Current newsletter.
And we’ve got bigger plans on the horizon. We recently hired a staff journalist, Kayla Young, who is spearheading the Current’s first in-depth multimedia journalism project — a mini-documentary series on TVET and STEM education.
Additionally, we are moving ahead with a planned series of monthly events on education, featuring guest speakers in partnership with other non-profits. Tentatively save the date for 29 Sept. and … Stay tuned …
When I’m out in the community talking about the Current and our mission, a common question I hear is, “Patrick this all sounds good. But, really, can journalism actually make an impact on something as fundamental as the education system?”
My answer is, “Yes!”
I’m happy to go into detail on how greater engagement, awareness and discourse can catalyse positive change. (Consider this an open invitation for conversation over coffee or lunch.)
But often what’s more effective than explaining is giving an example. Here’s one: Before the Current launched in September 2020, there was not a single journalist in Cayman devoted to covering education, on either a full- or part-time basis. The Current not only filled that gap but has brought more in-depth and comprehensive reporting on local education than has ever occurred in the history of this country. That includes our extensive reporting on education as a policy issue throughout the 2021 election campaign.
And now, guess what subject Premier Wayne Panton has declared to be the top priority of the new PACT government? Education.
We want to thank our growing list of sponsors, including Broadhurst Law Firm, Dart and Enterprise Cayman, as well as our individual donors. Without their generous support, the Current — and our body of work — simply would not exist.
Often, the practice of journalism consists of telling difficult truths. As much as there is to celebrate on the Current’s first birthday, the truth of the matter is that the Current will not endure another year without a significant increase in financial support from the community.
The Current doesn’t charge for subscriptions, nor do we traffic in paid advertising or ‘sponsored content’. Our sole source of revenue is voluntary donations from individuals and groups. Our journalism is always free to the public — but it’s not free to create.
This is a personal appeal from me: If you like what the Current has done in its first year, if you share our mission of improving education in Cayman, and if you want high-quality public service journalism to survive and thrive — then please, please, make a donation of any amount. Also, contact the decision-makers in your company or organisation, and ask them to support local education and local non-profit journalism by becoming a sponsor of the Current.
It is with great joy that I am able to share our accomplishments from our first year. But in the absence of your support, the next message from me could very well be one of regret, with bad news about the Current’s future. Without your support, there can be no Cayman Current.
I’ll close with how we began the very first Weekly Current newsletter: “Thanks for reading, and thanks for caring about education — which we believe to be the number one issue in the Cayman Islands.”
Over the past year, our gratitude toward our readers and our devotion to our mission have only grown stronger.
Please join me in wishing a happy birthday to the Cayman Current, and hopefully, many happy returns.
Founder and Editor, Cayman Current
Week In Review
Back to school means back to traffic for Grand Cayman commuters.
It’s common knowledge that the difference between clear roads and clogged lanes is the morning rush as thousands of parents attempt to drop their children off to schools that are concentrated in the capital district of George Town.
Using data from the Cayman Islands Compendium of Statistics 2020, we analysed the number of students attending public and private schools in each district.
Here’s what we found:
- More than 70% of Grand Cayman’s primary and secondary students are enrolled in George Town schools.
- That percentage is skewed by private schools:
- About 50% of public school enrolment is in George Town.
- About 98% of private school enrolment is in George Town.
- Total primary and secondary enrolment grew by 9% in 10 years. During that time:
- Public school enrolment declined 6%.
- Private school enrolment increased 35%.
The first part of the new John Gray High School project (in George Town) has been ‘handed over’ to school leaders for students to use. The completed section of the school includes TVET and STEM facilities and a performance arts centre.
EdBeat has returned! In this episode, Patrick of the Cayman Current and April of Cayman Life TV talk about what we did this summer, changes in local education leadership and the traffic issue in George Town.
One of the topics we discuss on EdBeat, but which hadn’t appeared in the Current, is the departure of St. Ignatius Catholic School Principal Martin Nugent, who had just joined the school in Spring 2021. On the show, we talk about why the Current chose to let other news outlets take the lead on this particular story.
All this week, we’ve been showcasing the work of teenage students who attended the Journalism & Media Summer Camp hosted by Minds Inspired in collaboration with 7 local news organisations, including the Current.
We encourage you to view the 5 student projects:
- Ethan Bodden, Hunter Collier and Jared McKay visit the Cayman Islands National Museum and report on the country’s seafaring history.
- Demeris Celestine, John Fleming and Haleema Mansaray report on the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes, including among local teenagers.
- Jack Coleman, Aerin Ewing-Chow and Andrew Weber evaluate possible proposals to alleviate traffic in Grand Cayman.
- Sophie Elias, Sophia Villarin and Kennedy Wilder report on causes of and possible solutions to local traffic issues.
- Lala Swaminathan and Rhea Swaminathan visit the Hamlin Stephenson Market at the Cricket Grounds and report on the local agriculture industry.
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 Compass ($): St. Ignatius principal departs after one term
- Cayman News Service: Private school’s leadership struggles roll on
- Cayman News Service: Over CI$58M added to 2021 budget
- Cayman Life TV: National Children’s Festival of the Arts – Night 1
- Cayman Life TV: National Children’s Festival of the Arts 2021 – Night 2
- Cayman Live TV: National Children’s Festival of the Arts 2021 – Night 3
- Miami Herald ($): Two Florida districts close schools until after Labor Day due to COVID-19
- Miami Herald ($): State appeals judge’s ruling, leaving ban on face mask mandates in schools in place
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Students to wear masks when school returns
- Eye Witness News (Bahamas): NEW SOCIAL VISION: PM Minnis outlines FNM plans for better access to healthcare, free student lunches, shelter for homeless
- Jamaica Gleaner: Patricia Green | Retrofit schools to ensure inclusive education
- The Guardian (UK): Science project reveals high lead levels in schools’ water
The Week Ahead
- Concerns about racial divisions in the Cayman Islands school system
- EdBeat: Episode 12