12 Dec. 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
Roundup of public school graduation ceremonies. Hosting the ‘Pandemic in Paradise’ investigation series. Government funding of private schools doubles. Red Bay Primary investigation update.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
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Week In Review
Congratulations to the 2021 graduates of Clifton Hunter High School, John Gray High School and Layman E Scott High School.
The public secondary schools held their graduation ceremonies over the past few weeks. We published a roundup of the graduations, including summaries, photos and videos of the pomp and circumstance.
(Read our story on the 3 graduations here.)
Nearly 100 Clifton Hunter graduates received their diplomas on 2 Dec. Principal Richard Wildman noted that for the first time, 70% of the class attained a Level 2 pass (meaning having passed 5 or more subjects including English and Mathematics).
The Student of the Year was Ruby Pileta, who also achieved the top ranking for her Physics score on the 2020 CSEC examinations in the region.
(Read about the Clifton Hunter graduation here.)
More than 150 John Gray students received their diplomas on 30 Nov. Of those, 131 graduated with honours diplomas, having passed 7 or more subjects, including English and mathematics. Additionally, 26 graduates received the Super Cup award for passing at least 10 subjects.
The graduates’ address was delivered by Quincy Ebanks and Naja Beach.
(Read about the John Gray graduation here.)
A total of 21 graduates from Layman E Scott High School received their diplomas on 20 Nov.
Seven students graduated with high honours, meaning they passed 9 or more subjects including English and Mathematics.
The valedictorian was Tiana Grey and the salutatorian was David Tibbetts.
(Read about the Layman E Scott graduation here.)
Patrick Brendel of the Cayman Current and April Cummings of Cayman Life TV, who was working behind-the-scenes at the ceremonies, discuss the graduations, the education budget and other topics.
Plus, Nicola Williams, the owner and director of Sprogs Garden Playschool (and president of the Cayman Islands Early Childhood Association), talks to Patrick about the COVID-19 situation facing her school and other early childhood care and education centers.
(Watch EdBeat: Episode 26 here.)
And that’s a wrap for EdBeat in 2021. We’ll return with the video and podcast series in the New Year.
This week we were pleased to begin publishing a series of stories by Caribbean journalists, enabled by Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI in Spanish).
The series, ‘Pandemic in Paradise‘, found that the “precariousness of public resources and services, cultural practices and political crises are the main barriers that lead to the lack of reliable statistics and prevent knowing the real impact of COVID-19 in several countries of the Caribbean region”.
The reporting on COVID in the region falls outside the Current‘s normal purview of Cayman Islands education, but we felt that the investigative work is of sufficient interest to our readers and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to publish this content.
For context, Current journalist Kayla Young has also been selected by CPI to participate in these collaborative investigations, with her project to be published in the near future, including in the Current.
(Read the introduction to Pandemic in Paradise here.)
The first story in the series is called, ‘Distrust in Vaccines and Uncounted Deaths: This is the Pandemic in the Caribbean‘, and features reporting from journalists in the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe and Haiti.
“The islands of the Caribbean are similar in their turquoise beaches that captivate tourists, but their handling of the pandemic has been full of contrasts,” according to the story, which examines the scope of deaths from COVID in the Caribbean.
(Read the first story in the series here.)
The second story, ‘”Dramatic” change in mortality profile due to COVID-19 in Puerto Rico’, focusses on deaths in the US territory.
The story looks not only at deaths linked directly to COVID, but also from other causes during the pandemic.
“The analysis also reveals that during most of 2020 and 2021, Puerto Rico registered excess deaths, including those that occurred from causes that were not identified as COVID. Among the latter, there is a significant increase in deaths from mental health diseases, substance abuse and conditions of the nervous system linked to memory, such as Alzheimer’s, which, according to the clinical experts interviewed, could be indirect consequences of strong social and economic disruptions caused by the pandemic,” according to the story.
(Read the second story in the series here.)
We’ll continue publishing the CPI series as new stories become available. Stay tuned …
The Cayman Islands government is doubling the amount of aid it provides to local private schools, and is now giving the money directly to individual schools rather than through the Private Schools Association.
For the year 2021, government is distributing $1 million in grants to 19 private schools that provide primary or secondary education. That amount increases to $2 million per year for both 2022 and 2023.
Each school is set to receive $52,631 in 2021 and $105,263 apiece in both 2022 and 2023, regardless of the number of students the school serves. The smallest schools are listed as having between 1-10 students at the primary or secondary level, while the largest has 600-1,100.
In addition this $2 million per year programme, the government has a separate ‘Private and Public School Grants’ programme, where schools can apply for grants to help fund events, initiatives and projects.
The government expects to spend $375,000 on these grants in 2021 (up from the budgeted amount of $250,000). In 2022 and 2023, the grants are being tripled to $1.4 million in each year.
(Read our analysis on public funding of private schools here.)
Checking in on the situation at Red Bay Primary School, the law enforcement investigation into alleged misconduct toward students ‘is still ongoing’.
It’s been more than 7 months since the allegations were first reported to police, and there’s just one more week before the end of the school term and the Christmas holiday break.
Ryan Dale has been serving as acting principal of Red Bay in place of longtime principal Vickie Frederick.
We’ll keep an eye on this story until the situation is resolved …
(Read our Red Bay Primary update here.)
More from the Current
- The Enterprise Cayman 2022 Summer Internship Programme Opens for Applications
- ICCI MBA students internationally recognised
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: PACT commits over $200M per year for education
- Jamaica Gleaner: Editorial | Upside-down, cockeyed education move
- Jamaica Observer: Better three hours too soon than a minute too late, Mrs Williams
- Jamaica Gleaner: Early-childhood education to get more Governmental focus, says Morgan
- BVI Beacon: First contracts signed for ESHS revamp
- BVI Beacon: Covid cases at ESHS close school for now
- The Guardian (UK): Hunt launched to find ‘ghost children’ missing from schools in England
- Stabroek News (Guyana): Students 12 and older to resume in-person classes once health authorities give greenlight
- Eye Witness News (Bahamas): WHERE IS THE PLAN?: BUT supports suspension of exams but ‘deeply concerned’ about in-person blueprint
The Week Ahead
- Data monitoring on public school student laptops
- 2021 Current Year in Review
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