(CNS) Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller is urging government to invest more cash in the education system in this budget cycle. The independent member for North Side said he plans to file a private member’s motion ahead of the next Legislative Assembly meeting calling for an injection of funds to help support schools. He also said that the opposition would be moving to form a teachers’ association. Echoing calls during the November budget meeting, Miller said he wanted the government to increase funding by diverting money from the 2018 surplus.
He also said that in addition to the much-needed investment and pay increase, teachers also need a platform that would provide them with a mechanism for more input on how the education system works.
“In our discussions with teachers we found that salary is an ongoing concern,” he said. “However, equally and often more important was the need for the recognition of their contribution, and an opportunity to have input in, and influence on, government’s decision-making on educational matters.”
Miller added that a teachers’ association would address this need for greater participation.
The comments from the opposition leader come in the wake of a recent inspection report that painted a disappointing picture of standards of achievement in government primary schools and comments from Education Council Chair Dan Scott.
In an interview with the Cayman Compass, Scott said that the council he leads will soon be implementing a ‘plan of action’ after over a year of examining the issues surrounding the local education system. Promising action and quick change, he said the government school system “will become competitive and very attractive”.
Miller said the opposition was pleased that some of the long-standing needs in the system were being addressed.
“The opposition endorses and supports the chairman’s bold assertion that it is now time to act, and look forward to some of these positive measures being put in place for the start of the new school year in September 2018, ” he said.
Miller said the opposition was in support of an increase in teachers’ salaries to a minimum $5,000 per month, the delegation of authority and responsibility for individual schools to principals, revamping the curriculum with an emphasis on civics, Cayman history, technical and vocational education, and student deportment. He also supports driving up expectations and the reinstatement of A-Levels at government’s high schools.
The opposition stated during the budget debate last year that the government had not invested enough in education and that it was still being underfunded. Given the surplus the government was predicting, he and his colleagues said there was room for greater investment in government schools and suggested that the Unity government abandon plans for the controversial cruise port and invest in education instead.