6 March 2022
Weekly Current (archived version)
HR audit has commenced at UCCI. Auditor General says education officials have made ‘some progress’ on recommendations. The first episode of the Current’s TVET/STEM series will air at Cayman Documentary Festival.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
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Week In Review
The human resources audit of University College of the Cayman Islands commenced at the beginning of the year, amid a period of clarifications and changes to hiring practices at the public university.
The HR audit is being conducted by the government’s Internal Audit Unit. The audit ‘officially’ began 4 Jan.
In past years, UCCI did not obtain work permits for non-Caymanian employees nor did it recruit for their positions when their contracts were being renewed.
According to minutes from the institution’s Board of Governors, UCCI “was aware in 2015” of the need for non-Caymanians (and non-PR holders) to have their positions recruited when it was time for their contracts to be renewed. However, that “was not the practice” as of 2018 — additionally, neither were work permits being secured for non-Caymanian UCCI employees.
Immediate past President and CEO Stacy McAfee, who joined UCCI in January 2019, was impacted by the shift in approaches to recruitment and work permits. “In fact, former President McAfee was the only employee at UCCI that held a work permit,” according to the minutes.
Our readers will recall that when McAfee sought to have her 3-year contract renewed last year, there was a delay before the UCCI Board responded to her letter, and eventually Board members cited a lack of time to advertise her position while offering her a 6-month contract extension. McAfee refused the extension offer and ‘demitted’ her position when her work permit expired 30 Nov. 2021.
Now that April Cummings of Cayman Life TV has returned from vacation, she and Cayman Current editor Patrick Brendel were able to put together the latest episode EdBeat on Sunday afternoon, just in time to make it into this newsletter.
April and Patrick discuss the above story, and also give their perspectives on other stories that have appeared recently in the Current.
Education officials have implemented about half of the recommendations made in an October 2019 School Education Report by the Office of the Auditor General, and have made progress on some other measures.
However, primarily due to COVID-19, several major recommendations – related to strategic direction, school finances and effectiveness of scholarships – have not been put into effect.
The October 2019 report contained 18 recommendations from the Auditor General and 3 from the PAC. Out of the 21, education officials had fully implemented 11, made progress on 9 and made little or no progress on 1. Overall, the Auditor General assessed that education officials had made ‘Some Progress’ on recommendations.
The Ministry of Education had made the least progress on creating a long-term financial plan, citing shifts in resources to manage COVID.
Also delayed were the development of a medium- to long-term education strategy, plans to improve education attainment by students, and analyses of per-student costs in public schools, benchmarked against costs in private schools and comparable countries.
COVID also impacted plans to compare Cayman students’ performance against the UK and Caribbean. In December 2021, the government said it had purchased a new platform that would enable those comparisons, however, due to changes in assessment in the UK and Caribbean due to COVID, “it has not been possible to attain comparative data for the 2020-2021 academic year.”
Other nuggets from the AG’s update: The Ministry of Education has entered into an agreement with England’s Department of Education to administer England’s key stage exams in Cayman’s government schools. And, as of December 2021, the government intended to publish the Education Data Report 2021 in January 2022 … (As of our writing, we haven’t seen the annual report yet, but if someone has, we’d ask you to please kindly pass it on to us.)
Also, keep an eye on the AG’s recommendation to collect more data on government scholarships “to better demonstrate how scholarship funding is achieving its intended purpose” — particularly, whether scholarship recipients gain employment in the areas they studied.
Plus, the Education Council hadn’t yet moved beyond “preliminary works” on a recommendation from the PAC that the Council extend its role beyond government scholarships “to cover the private sector and the scholarships they provide”. The PAC’s concern is that private sector employers aren’t investing in Caymanian talent or providing Caymanian staff with adequate access to scholarships.
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Good news, everyone!
We are excited to announce that our TVET/STEM education documentary project, titled ‘Island Jobs’, has joined the lineup of the Cayman Documentary Festival, taking place at the Camana Bay Cinema.
When complete, Island Jobs will comprise 5 episodes, as well as a 90-minute feature-length cut.
On Friday, 18 March, the first episode of Island Jobs will be shown at the Festival, right after a North American film ‘The Great Disconnect’ and preceding a panel discussion on mental health, which will intersect with education. Current journalist Kayla Young, who has spearheaded the Island Jobs documentary, will moderate the panel.
Follow the link above for more information and to purchase tickets to the Festival, which is running for 5 days. Each ticket is $25. Proceeds benefit local charities.
As always, we extend our warmest gratitude to our Project Sponsors, including Dart, Health City Cayman Islands, Enterprise Cayman and Silver Palm Studios, as well as to our Media Partner Cayman Life TV. Without their support, our documentary project would not be possible.
If you can’t make it to the Festival, and you want to see Islands Jobs anyway … Too bad. The remainder of the series is still in post-production, so you’ll have to wait until the project is finished and we air it online and in other channels. Consider the 18 March showing as a ‘sneak preview’.
… Stay tuned …
More from the Current
- Applications Open for Education Council Local Scholarships
- Early Childhood Assistance Programme Funding Available for 2022/2023 Academic Year
Around The Web
The Current is a central resource for education journalism by others, including regional and international news relevant to Cayman education. (Find our running collection of links here.)
- Cayman Compass ($): Hundreds attend Dart hospitality job fair
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): New style specialist education on track to start in September
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): School antigen testing submission rates remain low
- Jamaica Observer: Get those children back in classrooms, say education ministry officials
- Jamaica Observer: Without implementation, no transformation
- Eye Witness News (Bahamas): Educator launches campaign to raise education standards in The Bahamas
The Week Ahead
- UCCI annual report
- School inspection reports
- EdBeat: Episode 31