Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture & Lands (MEYSAL) Honourable Juliana O'Connor-Connolly, and senior members of the Department of Education Services (DES) unveiled the new national curriculum for primary schools and a host of other exciting developments at the Annual Educators’ Professional Welcome event, held at John Gray High School on Monday 19th August, 2019.
The annual event welcomes all new and returning educators of the Cayman Islands Government Education System to a new school year, discusses the major plans and sets the strategic focus. This year’s highlight was the announcement of a new curriculum for all government primary schools, with a forward-thinking STEM and computer science focus, as well as an enhanced, localized Social Studies curriculum. The new curriculum covers the entire suite of subjects such as, English, Math, Science, Art & Design, Computing, Design & Technology, Spanish, Life Skills, Music, Physical Education and Religious Education.
After the opening prayer, National Anthem and National Song, Miss Cetonya Cacho, Acting Chief Officer of MEYSAL, welcomed approximately one thousand attendees comprised of education professionals and government officials to the event. Mrs. Tammy Hopkins, Acting Director of the DES was then introduced. Mrs. Hopkins announced that 80 new teachers had been appointed both locally and from various jurisdictions. Mrs. Hopkins also spoke to several internal promotions that had been made for the new school year, before moving onto the extensive process that had been undertaken to develop and implement the new curriculum adapted from the 2014 English National Curriculum.
“We are committed to driving excellence in order to be a world class education system. In October 2018, the Cayman Islands Curriculum Implementation team was formed and began work on a new curriculum. We reviewed the English National Curriculum for suitability for the Cayman Islands, and where to include local elements,” continued Mrs. Hopkins. “Amendments were made to our social studies curriculum to include our Caymanian culture, history and citizenship, [and] we reviewed the core subjects including science, English and Mathematics. Our output was a gap analysis of each year group, comparing the standards of the old national curriculum to the new Cayman Islands curriculum.”
One quote from the Acting Director of the DES summed up the feeling across her department, “This has been an intense journey that reflects a true collaboration of efforts between the Ministry, DES and our educators.”
Following Mrs. Hopkins, His Excellency the Governor, Martyn Roper took the stage to deliver his support for the new curriculum, and for the efforts being made across MEYSAL and DES for improvements and enhancements across the government schools this year.
““My aim is to visit all schools in Grand Cayman over the coming year and give you an opportunity to show what you are doing to deliver world class education” stated the Governor. “I fully support, under our excellent Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, this vision of a world class civil service. All of us should strive to be genuinely world-class, and I think we’re on the right track.”
Following the Governor, the Honorable Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Minister for Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands took to the stage to deliver a moving motivational speech and to provide more details on the ministry’s operational activities in preparation for the new school year, notably in response to calls for additional resources for schools, and a return to the textbook system that had been removed previously.
“Now that we are confident that morale is up, we have moved to the next level of our journey, and we have invested, with the full support of the cabinet led by the honorable Premier, into resources such as computers for every single teacher under our public administration. They will be in possession of their own laptop in the schools.” stated the Minister who also added, “I did promise you that we were going to get text books back into the classroom. Science books have previously been delivered to all of their destinations in our schools. We can already see the upward mobility in the science related areas. I am not just satisfied with that though. I want science coaches available to every single primary school and we will be working to make sure the necessary assistance is there. I am also happy to report that my team at the Department of Education Services worked extremely hard to procure and organise new resources. We spent just under a million dollars getting these new resources related to the new curriculum. Implementation. Such as ‘Power Maths’ to name one of the resources that will be used in our schools. We have also conducted additional training for all our teachers. We are truly excited about the implementation of the new curriculum for the upcoming school year”.
The Minister then encouraged everyone to work hard and to work together to reach success under the new curriculum. “It’s going to take each one of us working in this room, hand in hand, heart in heart, to make it become a reality; and as President Obama said, yes we can, and yes we must, ladies and gentlemen!”
During the event, there was a tribute and moment of silence for two education professionals who passed away over the summer break, the late, Ramoutee Chattoor and Monty Larrew.