Nassau Guardian Stories
July 30, 2016
While saying that a "group of goons" were screaming at her as she addressed night two of the Free National Movement's (FNM) convention, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner said it was the outcry against her by FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest late Thursday night that was the final straw in a process she claims was corrupted and hijacked.
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July 30, 2016
In the wake of Free National Movement (FNM) MP Richard Lightbourn's recent suggestion to sterilize unwed mothers with more than two children, two women's groups have called the suggestion "frighteningly reminiscent of the policies" used in during Jim Crow and apartheid.
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July 30, 2016
Free National Movement (FNM) delegates were left wondering whether Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner and her running mate Dr. Duane Sands were ever equipped to take on the leadership of the party following their last-minute decision to abort their bids for the party's leadership and deputy leadership races yesterday.
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July 29, 2016
On the heels of a junior and senior national record in the throws, Corrington Maycock is trying to keep the momentum going with the staging of the 3rd Annual Blue Chip Athletics Throwing Camp starting next Tuesday at the College of The Bahamas (COB) fields.
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July 29, 2016
After a dramatic night at the Free National Movement (FNM) convention, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner and her running mate Dr. Duane Sands confirmed around 2 a.m. to The Nassau Guardian that they have withdrawn from the leadership and deputy leadership races respectively, that were set to take place today.
"We came in as a team and I think what transpired tonight as I was ascending the stage...What happened just did not start tonight."
She said she had initially withheld $50,000 of the $100,000 she agreed to pay to help cover the convention costs "because of my reservation with the process".
"When I met with them (planning team) for the very first time I still was not satisfied and I did not wish to jeopardize the process.
"In the interest of the party and in the interest of democracy it seems this process was hijacked and so at the end of the day I do not wish to validate that process."
Butler-Turner was huddled with advisors into the early morning and promised to give a fuller explanation on her decision to withdraw.
Late last night, she came under fire at the party's convention when some supporters of Dr. Hubert Minnis, the current leader, became agitated that her speech was stretching near the 11 o'clock hour, almost an hour after she started to speak.
Toward the end of her speech, Butler-Turner called for candidates to join her and her running mate Dr. Duane Sands on stage, but only Sands went up.
Minnis supporters shouted "Roc Wit Doc", drowning her out.
The keynote address was delivered by FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest, who appeared angered by Butler-Turner's lengthy remarks.
"It's a matter of respect. We can disagree with each other. We can take different positions. We have to remember that at the end of the day we have nothing if we don't respect each other," Turnquest told The Guardian.
"Everyone had a defined period to speak. We had people who were deliberately running long."
Turnquest said Butler-Turner was trying to "run out the time". He called the situation "ridiculous".
The deputy leader did not end up speaking until around 11 p.m.
By that time, many delegates had left the hall.
Outside the Melia, angry supporters of Butler-Turner and Minnis exchanged words, with some predicting that there will be a split in the party.
The drama unfolded one night after Minnis appealed for unity.
In her speech, as she made her final appeal to delegates to give her an opportunity to lead the FNM, she also admitted the FNM has experienced a period of division, which she regrets, but she pledged that as leader she would unite and heal the party, and be a champion for all Bahamians.
"At times I have not lived up [to] the spirit of our enduring motto," said Butler-Turner.
"For this, I offer regret and the promise to help heal and unify our party.
"Will you join me in this effort?
"Let us all pledge to do better in living up to our values and working for the greater cause of unity.
"If you elect me as your leader I pledge to unify our party in word and deed.
"I pledge also to fight for Bahamians everywhere.
"I want to be a champion and fighter for all Bahamians.
"I will fight for what is right and just and fair."
Butler-Turner was among the six MPs who threatened to write the governor general to have Dr. Hubert Minnis removed as leader of the official opposition if an early convention was not called.
Butler-Turner recently claimed Minnis has pledged to "deal with" the MPs in question.
However, Minnis declared on Wednesday night that the FNM will not fracture when it comes out of convention this week.
In her speech last night, Butler-Turner thanked former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham for bringing her into the arena of public service.
She thanked Minnis for the service he has given to the FNM.
"He and I may not always see eye to eye, but it doesn't mean that I don't see and appreciate that he has poured his heart into our party," she said.
"Our fight, indeed all of our energies in the coming year, must be to bring genuine help and hope to the Bahamian people.
"Whether it be Loretta or Hubert [Minnis], Peter [Turnquest] or Duane [Sands], Sidney [Collie] or Alvin [Smith], and right on down the ballot paper, we must all keep the fire burning in our souls.
"Let us keep the fire of love, unity and hope burning in our souls and heart as we move forward, together."
However, Butler-Turner insisted in that speech that the FNM needs an inspiring leader "who will stay on the battlefield" and look out for all FNMs even during hard times.
She said she will be a champion for all Bahamians and fight for what is "right, just and fair".
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July 29, 2016
Shadow Attorney General Richard Lightbourn told delegates at the Free National Movement (FNM) convention last night The Bahamas should consider tying the tubes of unwed mothers who depend on the state to raise their children.
Lightbourn said it is necessary "for us as a nation to consider adopting the lead of several countries in the world which results in an unwed mother having her tubes tied after having more than two children which would in the end result in fewer children being born".
He said, "The state should not have the burden of paying for the upbringing of children.
"By adopting such measures, there would be [fewer] classrooms needed in the future and [fewer] persons coming out of school every year seeking employment and would also result in the mother of these children being able to live a better life not having to bring up so many children."
In response, FNM Chairman Sidney Collie released a statement last night stressing that Lightbourn's comments were personal and do not reflect the position of the FNM.
"The FNM does not believe in restricting anyone's
"It is said that 5,000 children leave school each year so this would suggest that the birth rate is in that area.
"Many young women have five and six children, many of whom are born out of wedlock. Many of the fathers of those children have little involvement in the child's upbringing either emotional or financial. The laws of our country and the legal system [are] such that the father is not likely to be compelled to assist financially in the upbringing of the child.
"An FNM government would introduce legislation which would enable a court to deduct from a father's pay check an amount to be paid directly to the mother of the child, and in this way the father would consider carefully the consequences of having an unprotected relationship and in all likelihood reduce the number of children born in The Bahamas."
An overview of the data collected by the Department of Statistics on births in The Bahamas over the last 40 years shows that women, domestic and foreign-born, are having fewer children. That information was released back in 2012.
The data in the births report, collated from 1970 through 2010, showed that with a population of about 170,000 in 1970, there were 4,894 live births recorded.
Juxtapose those numbers against the 5,362 live births recorded among a population of more than 340,000 in 2010, and the downward shift is apparent.
The report also showed that the birth rate fell almost 50 percent, from 28.8 births per 1,000 persons to 15.8 births per 1,000 persons from 1970 through 2010.
Lightbourn told delegates that until the crime situation in The Bahamas is addressed, it will continue to affect adversely every aspect of life in The Bahamas.
Speaking of the zero tolerance approach an FNM government would take, Lightbourn said, "We have heard this theory mentioned on several occasions by certain parliamentarians and several law enforcement officers, but unfortunately there has been little evidence of the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy.
"There is also a need for everyone to understand that zero tolerance means what it says, so even if you are a relative of the prime minister or the commissioner of police, the law applies to you.
"The policy of zero tolerance was the cornerstone by which Major [Rudy] Guiliani and his chief of police turned crime around in the City of New York, and there is no reason why such a policy would not be effective in The Bahamas.
"This will be the cornerstone of the FNM's crime initiative."
In opposition, the Progressive Liberal Party promised to make communities safer for Bahamians. But the problem remains a serious concern for many, with a murder record at the end of 2015.
Lightbourn said "persons anxiously anticipate the collapse of this government and there will be great rejoicing in the streets when they fall".
"The anxiety has slackened because the country knows that relief is around the corner and not one of those economic corners that the prime minister suggests that we have turned," he said.
With FNM elections set for today, Lightbourn, who supports the leadership team of Loretta Butler-Turner and Dr. Duane Sands, said there is every desire by all elements in the party to leave this convention energized and united in a solid purpose to save The Bahamas from the PLP government.
"However, as we enter into the final phase of this convention, let us all remember that at this moment in time, we have no leader, we have no deputy leader, we have no treasurer, and we have no chairman and the purpose of the convention is to elect those officers, so let us all leave our minds open to the process," he said.
"We owe no allegiance to anyone at this time. However, when the selection is made, we need to take into account the voice of the people throughout the length and breadth of our archipelago so that we can ensure that we will move forward with the strongest team possible to take us to victory in the general election.
"So FNM's, let us make that choice and leave here united in that goal."
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July 29, 2016
In a speech that cast Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis as a unifier and visionary, Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest last night also pledged that a Minnis administration would create new industries and grow the economic pie to ensure "there is more to share not less to fight over".
"This is not about us and them, but a rising tide for all of us together," said Turnquest on night two of the FNM's three-day convention being televised nationally.
As the shadow minister of finance, Turnquest outlined some of the plans he and Minnis have to energize the national economy and create jobs.
He pledged, "We will ease the restrictions on our economic and monetary policies so as to improve the ease of doing business in the country and to make capital available to fund new technological and scientific discoveries and businesses.
"Unlike our prime minister, who tells the world The Bahamas has no natural resources, we believe The Bahamas is teeming with natural mineral and human resources, waiting to be discovered, tapped and exploited.
"We know about the salt, aragonite, seaweed, sponges, fisheries, bush medicine, teas, craft products, etc. which have been underperforming for Bahamians.
"With investments to jump-start the research and the eventual processing of these and other raw materials in a locally domiciled production facility for export, we can create new jobs and entrepreneurs. Again, we must think deep and not be afraid to invest in our young people and in research and technology to identify and utilize all of the natural assets we have available to us."
Turnquest said an FNM government would make trade and industry a key focus to grow the economy and provide new careers.
At a time when many Bahamians continue to suffer from constant blackouts and a lack of confidence in Bahamas Power and Light, Turnquest also outlined plans for energy reform.
"The FNM will bring relief to this situation with a short, medium and long term plan centered around the immediate engagement of public-private partnership arrangements with known generation providers and a plan to develop alternate fuel sources right here at home," he said.
"Whether it be solar, biofuels, wave or geothermal technology, a serious effort to reduce our reliance on costly fossil fuels will be undertaken."
Turnquest said this proposal can free up tremendous capital for reinvestment within the economy without outsourcing valuable jobs as some other parties have suggested.
"Again delegates, if we are to take ownership and control of our country and our economy, we must be bold and creative. Energy security is an important plank in that platform," he said.
The deputy also pledged that a Minnis administration would be conservative in spending and aggressive in the management of government resources to produce a balanced budget and start repaying the debt.
"We also propose a fiscal rule where these large, unexplained contingent amounts we see in the annual budgets are reduced or eliminated," Turnquest added.
He also said, "The requirement to strengthen the control of our spending and the management of our resources is critical if we expect to get ourselves out of this mess the PLP has plunged into with a national debt of over $7 billion; hear me now, $7 billion or 76.3 percent debt to GDP, well above the danger zone recognized by international agencies.
"Your FNM is committed to financial conservatism. We will engage the private sector to help us achieve efficiency in government and we will create entrepreneurial thinking and entrepreneurship within the civil service."
On the eve of the party's elections, Turnquest also praised Minnis' leadership.
"Our leader, Dr. Hubert Minnis, has remained focused and has been slowly destroying the lines that kept our progress confined to that proverbial box where winners and losers are pre-determined based upon status or who you know versus what you know," he said.
Turnquest said Minnis has demonstrated respect for all of his colleagues despite being bated into public arguments.
He said Minnis' temperament speaks of self-confidence, control and a spirit of tolerance.
Turnquest is being challenged by Senator Dr. Duane Sands for the deputy leadership position and Minnis is being challenged by Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner.
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July 29, 2016
Two men were charged yesterday in connection with the home invasion of renowned Bahamian psychiatrist Dr. David Allen.
Nineteen-year-old Leonard O'Brien, of Soldier Road, and 20-year-old Wilson Lacroix, of Soldier Road, stood before Magistrate Constance Delancy to answer to four charges -- one count of house breaking, two counts of armed robbery and one count of receiving.
According to court dockets, it is alleged that sometime on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, the pair broke into Allen's home on West Bay Street.
It is also alleged that the pair being concerned with another, armed with a handgun, robbed Dr. Allen of a gold Cuban link chain with an estimated value of $1,500, a 32-inch television set valued at $250 and a gold plated Seiko watch with a price tag of $200.
The second armed robbery charge listed Dr. Allen's daughter, Marie Allen Carroll, as a victim of the home invasion.
Police allege that during the invasion, Allen-Carroll was robbed of $100, and an American passport valued at $110. She was also allegedly robbed of a burgundy Land wallet containing bank cards, and a Bahamian driver's license together estimated at $300.
Additionally, she was allegedly robbed of a Play Station 4 and games valued at $650, a Mac Pro laptop valued at $1,200, a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses valued at $250 and two jewelry boxes containing an assortment of cosmetic jewelry valued at $300.
The charge of receiving was in relation to the items stolen from Allen Carroll.
It is alleged that O'Brien and Lacroix dishonestly received two jewelry boxes and two purses valued at $90.
The men were also charged with burglary, armed robbery and receiving in connection with a separate home invasion.
It is alleged that around 3 a.m. on the same day, being concerned with another, did break and enter into the home of Dwight Rolle of number 21 Mangrove Avenue of Fox Hill Road with the intent to commit a felony.
It is also alleged that during that particular home invasion Rolle was robbed of a gold 2005 Toyota Corolla valued at $6,000 and a black Claro PDC cellular phone valued at $130, along with $10 cash.
The men were charged with dishonestly receiving the stolen items.
Both defendants were asked by Magistrate Delancy whether they understood the charges against them, to which they answered, "Yes, ma'am".
The men were not allowed to enter a plea nor were they granted bail.
As the men were escorted out of the court, a woman identified by officers as Lacroix's girlfriend could be heard screaming and had to be escorted away by law enforcement.
The men were remanded to the Bahamas Department of Corrections until August 30 when their case is expected to be transferred to the Supreme Court by voluntary bill of indictment.
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July 29, 2016
Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis' opening remarks at the party's convention on Wednesday night were similar to his "lackluster and laughable" leadership of the party, according to Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts.
"I listened with amusement this evening as the disgraced so-called leader of the FNM, Dr. Hubert Minnis, attempted to rally together support at the FNM convention," Roberts said in a press statement late Wednesday night.
Roberts described Minnis' speech as empty rhetoric and "an eerie reminder of the poor and sorry state his FNM left the country in just four years ago".
"Tonight's (Wednesday's) pathetic attempt to throw mud at our government shows just how desperate the Official Opposition has become," Roberts said.
The party's convention is being held at the Melia Nassau Beach resort.
For months, there has been constant infighting within the party regarding Minnis' leadership.
On Wednesday, Minnis declared to a crowded room of FNMs that the convention will conclude on Friday with a party that is not fractured, but squarely focused on defeating the PLP government in the next general election.
Minnis told the crowd that the party's political enemy is the PLP and urged them to direct their frustration and anger toward the PLP, which he said is responsible for the country's issues including the deplorable employment rate.
Despite Minnis' promise that the party will emerge united following its convention, Roberts still insisted that Minnis is "a visionless and disconnected leader of the fragmented FNM".
"Dr. Minnis should be the last person to talk about fighting corruption, as the facts clearly show the FNM as an organization seems to encourage and justify corruption," Roberts said.
"The FNM delivered debt. They delivered corruption.
"They delivered to us a country that was weak and we are working on behalf of the Bahamian people to lead this country to a stronger and more prosperous future."
Currently Minnis and Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner are vying for the leadership of the party.
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July 29, 2016
Noting that "the renaissance of the historic city of Nassau has been overdue", Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday said at the unveiling of a project design proposed to regenerate and remodel Nassau represents the first step in the formation of creative and innovative solutions to the problems of an urban city environment.
Led by urban planning consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank Roland Krebs, students and faculty at the Urban Design Department of the Technology University of Vienna and the School of Architecture of The College of The Bahamas, together conducted numerous studies costing some $1.1 million that sought to find the most dominant issues of Over-the-Hill areas in the capital.
After discovering the issues, the team put together a plan to lead to a "Sustainable Nassau".
Among the concerns discovered, the team found a "desolated West Bay Street that allowed for a playground for crime, too far a distance between major historical sites and the ocean and a lack of true Bahamian culture in the heart of the city".
Christie said the remodeling of Nassau would assist the country by eradicating those issues and allowing the country to attract international attention for the right reasons.
"Like the 2040 National Development Plan, this initiative is dependent on the participation and input of Bahamians," he said.
"It is critical that we reflect on who we are as a people and what is important to us. We must consider where we want to go in the future and plot a course to get there.
"The city we are building must be one that is alive, with exciting cultural activities, opportunities for wealth creation for our young people, and hubs for creativity and innovation so that the country will retain the local talent needed to grow our economy.
"It is also through the initiative for economic sustainability that The Bahamas will continue to attract the international resources we need for our country to thrive."
Christie said the plan provides a picture of a redeveloped Nassau, "A vibrant historic cultural city, where everyone is welcomed and feels a part of the city and has access to the best in services and infrastructure.
"An energetic city by day and night."
Krebs said though expensive, if the government decides to follow through with the plan, it would be worth it.
"We came up with an urban strategy to relink the historically classed areas with downtown on three corridors which is East Street, Market Street and Baillou Hill Road and we want to have specific projects to intensify and repopulate the area with accessible housing," said Krebs.
"We will rejuvenate the center Nassau area. We are dealing with crime, we are dealing with people not having jobs and by recognizing culture, we [want to] regenerate the area.
"I think it would take at least two to five years to see some impact in this project because urban planning projects tend to have a long, long development period so the project cycles are very long and we have to partner with the private sector to include them and partner up for the implementation.
"It's very expensive, but compared to the social and economic impact it is relatively cheap.
"If you have people killing themselves in the street and you have shootings and disorder, it costs a lot of money.
"If you have a lot of organized community, if people are treated better and have a better way of life, there will be no violence there."
So far, the plan is only a proposal to the Bahamian government.
Krebs said by the end of the year, a decision is expected to be made as to what projects will begin and when.
While giving his remarks yesterday, Christie said the plan will not sit on a shelf and never see the light of day. He said the plan will be "available to the public so that we can always keep sight of where we want to go and the steps we must take to get there".
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July 29, 2016
As he lambasted the Progressive Liberal Party's (PLP) record in education, calling it a "betrayal" of children throughout The Bahamas, former senator and Minister of Education Desmond Bannister took aim at current Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald for "chiding" members of Parliament over their donations for school computers.
"It's his job to provide the money to meet this critical need," said Bannister on the second night of the Free National Movement's convention at Melia Nassau Beach resort.
"After all, he's the minister of science and technology."
Fitzgerald admitted in Parliament during the budget debate that the Ministry of Education does not provide computers to public primary schools in the country.
In response to Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn, who raised the concern, Fitzgerald said that over the last two years he has made MPs aware of the deficiency and many of them have stepped forward to supply primary schools in the country with computers.
He charged that the majority of MPs contributed a combined $150,000, but Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins did not make a contribution, a point Rollins strongly refuted.
Last night, Bannister said an FNM government will embrace technology in schools and ensure "our children are technologically savvy".
Bannister, the FNM's candidate for Carmichael, also berated outgoing Carmichael MP Dr. Daniel Johnson.
"Carmichael, I'm back home, so we will build the badly needed Carmichael Road Junior High School to ease overcrowding in the southwest," said Bannister, who represented the constituency between 2007 to 2012.
"As you all know, Carmichael matters most of all.
"Why else would they fire a whole MP before the election is even called?
"And then the fellow say [he's going to] run some place else where he could win just after he got run out of Carmichael.
"Carmichael is serious.
"If you don't believe me, just wait till they ring that bell."
Bannister ran on the FNM's ticket in North Andros in the general election.
He lost to now Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez.
Speaking of his record, the former minister said over the FNM's three non-consecutive terms in office, it built 17 new primary schools and 15 secondary schools.
"In contrast, the current prime minister cannot truthfully say that his government has built a single primary or secondary school in his two terms as prime minister," Bannister said.
"He and his party have failed our children.
"They have failed our families.
"They have failed our communities.
"Despite our hard work and outstanding accomplishments, however, in 2012 that other party convinced the Bahamian people that they would, and I quote 'double the investment in education and training'.
"You can all laugh now, but that's the promise that they made."
Bannister resigned from the Senate in September, 2013.
The move was perceived by many as a decline in support for Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis.
However, Bannister said he only intended to remain in the Senate for a 12-month period to provide guidance and leadership for the FNM's young Senate team.
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July 29, 2016
Education in the Caribbean seems to experience identical problems of performance of students, and the way teachers are prepared for the classroom. In one country, an institution that prepares teachers was said to have only three of its 17 courses accredited. Another report stated that those leaving the high schools who opt for teaching have performed at the lowest level in the regional school leaving exams.
And a further report states that only one quarter of those teaching at pre-primary level have received professional training, and that a significant percentage of those who teach have no qualifications in the subject; and many others are not professionally trained.
Here, we have a probable context that could explain the problems surrounding the quality of much of the teaching in the public schools. This topic is dealt with in a recent editorial in The Nassau Guardian newspaper captioned "Improving our education system".
The editorial states, in part, that two ingredients required for a child's success are a home conducive to learning and good teaching at school. I agree with both of these observations, since if the child is challenged at home through discussion, the provision of educational technologies, and interest is shown in what he or she does along with parental intervention when the child is having difficulties with his or her work, these strategies can help to provide a richer learning environment in addition to the school or despite it. This is why many parents home-school their children. The opposite will occur if these strategies are lacking.
The writer then turns to the quality of teaching in the public school system of the country, noting that many teachers have to function as surrogate parents, because of challenges faced at home by some students, in addition to those issues on the job, making teaching more arduous. The quality of much of the teaching is described as poor and weak despite a favorable student-teacher ratio, with numeracy and literacy skills being also weak.
The editorial notes the country would like to see more discussion on improving teaching in the public schools, particularly the quality of teacher preparation and instruction. It calls for a more rigorous protocol for teacher evaluation that includes a better assessment of the productivity and overall performance of teachers, and states that improving teacher quality must involve the public if reform is to be successful.
I think this is a most instructive editorial that not only identifies the issues, but also suggests solutions. It is true that teachers now perform multiple roles, including professional work and as caregivers. This could be demanding, but may result in them becoming more efficient in dealing with complex issues at school and work, as a result becoming more multi-skilled.
If the teaching is poor and weak it may have to do not only with how their institutions prepare them, including the methodologies or strategies used, but with the credentials and training of their professional educators.
For example do teacher educators attend workshops and seminars in their areas? Do they update themselves through further reading, including subscribing to professional journals in their area and sharing any novel ideas they discover? Do teachers do independent research on problems in the classroom, and arrive at potential solutions to the issues they face? Do the principals use staff meetings as a learning strategy and a solutions-based exercise?
Furthermore, if teachers are to be more proficient, they should select institutions that provide the best training and are accredited. I therefore agree with the editorial of the need for more discussion on improving teaching and the quality of teacher preparation and instruction, along with bench marks for assessment and evaluation of the work teachers do. This means greater accountability and enhanced sensitivity concerning the important service teachers render.
The whole point of teacher education is not just improvement of the educational process, but its transformation into a system that is better, predictable, delivers positive results and creates excitement for learning and development generally.
Educational transformation entails motivating students by speaking positively to them, raising their expectations and fostering a sense of self-worth and self-regard. Further, teachers must see themselves as educational leaders and cultural innovators, fostering the development of ethical citizens.
When students trust their teachers and teachers are motivated by the same values, attitudes to learning and performance dramatically change. Also when students are taught and encouraged to think, analyse, see connections and select the best alternative to situations, they experience a new world, and along with their teachers become better human beings with a purpose.
o Oliver Mills is a former lecturer in education at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus. He holds an M.Ed degree from Dalhousie University in Canada, a MA from the University of London and a post-graduate diploma in HRM and training, University of Leicester. He is a past permanent secretary in education with the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.
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July 28, 2016
Miss World Bahamas Ashley Hamilton is a true representation of an island beauty with roots spanning a number of islands -- Long Island (courtesy of her maternal grandmother), Cat Island (courtesy of her maternal grandfather), Abaco (through her paternal grandmother), and even a little Jamaican spice (from her paternal grandfather).
The 24-year-old who was born in New Providence but represented Long Island in the recent pageant says she hopes to have the Bahamian support behind her as she begins the journey to the 66th Miss World Stage to represent The Bahamas in December in Washington, D.C. Her goal is to make Bahamians proud.
Having not been born with a "silver spoon" in her mouth, she believes she represents an island girl who knows what it means to work for what she wants which she says many people can relate to.
Days after being crowned Miss World Bahamas 2016, Hamilton said winning the title gave her a sense of pride, and was a long time in the making. It wasn't the first time she had sought a beauty crown. Hamilton was first runner-up in the 2008 Theodore Elyett's Miss Teen Bahamas World and walked away with the Miss Teen Bahamas Earth title.
That experience she believes set her up for her successful run at the Miss World crown.
"It [teen pageant] was a good growing experience. It was my first time, and my parents [Lavelle Hamilton, deceased, and Joanne Brown-Hamilton and I did it on our own," she said.
Hamilton then took a break from pageantry to pursue her education and gained "life experiences" through travel, which she said was of utmost importance to her.
In 2014 she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in History from the University of Florida. She was the recipient of the Shelby Davis Scholarship in 2011 and holds an International Baccalaureate Certificate from Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific, Victoria, British Colombia, Canada. She was also granted the United World Scholarship in 2009.
She believes the experience she got through her studies and travels will serve her well in her ambassadorial role and that she will bring exposure to the title that many queens have not had.
"I bring that international experience, knowing that these 700 islands and cays that we call home is not the world, but this 700 islands and cays have so much to offer, and I hope I bring that to the stage when I take on Washington. You have to know how to adapt, and appreciate what it means to be Bahamian."
Hamilton also said the best preparation a girl can have for pageantry is knowing that she should not jump from pageant to pageant, but to prepare properly for each one, and to gain life experience.
While you have to be confident going into a pageant, she says you can never go into a pageant over-confident and that she certainly didn't.
"You have to know that whatever you put forward, that it's your best," said Hamilton who is six feet, one-inch in height.
She said on the Miss World Bahamas stage there were eight other girls who could have done just as good as she did.
"Every girl was deserving of that crown -- we all performed and slayed on the stage, but I'm proud to come out on top."
Her win she also said took a team effort.
Representing her maternal grandmother's island of birth, and bringing a title to Long Island she said made her proud.
"In December, months after Hurricane Joaquin I visited Long Island and I saw firsthand that although they were rebuilding, the devastation that island faced, and I'm so ecstatic to know that I represent a group of industrious people like myself who are willing to work hard and get the job done," she said.
Winning the Miss World Bahamas title did not come without its own share of heartache for the queen. She was crowned without her beloved father to witness the momentous occasion. She dedicated the win to him. His death she said put her once two-parent household -- one in which both parents were equally involved in their children's lives -- into a tailspin.
"My mother became a single mother instantly to three girls. I was going to pursue a law degree, and [one] sister was in her final year of university, and another sister was in her last year of high school, so financially, emotionally and physically it was more of a strain on us. My mother was stretched more, I gained more responsibility, and we're still getting adjusted to it."
The queen said she and her mother and her two siblings, Cymone and Alexis-Zaria miss him daily. And while they may not show how much they miss him externally, inside the home they let their emotions flow.
"I dedicated this competition to my father from day one. I said daddy you may not be here with me physically, but spiritually and emotionally I feel you every step of the way, and I had a sense of calm knowing that he was standing right next to me, and I was making him so proud," said Hamilton.
The new Miss World Bahamas said she grew up with her parents telling her she was special in their house, but outside that she was just a number and that she had to have a sense of pride in whatever she accomplished.
Her advice to young women who have visions of a crown being placed upon their head is to always remember that pageantry is a lot of work, with many sleepless nights. But she said once they have a good support system behind them they could make it work.
"It's so important to young girls to know that everyone is rooting for them and cheering for them as well, because social media portrays a very negative image, especially for young Bahamian women who may not fit a model size, and they need to know that they are loved and that they are important."
The new Miss World Bahamas said people who don't know her should realize that she's a quiet person, but the experience of losing her father made her stronger; and that when she's onstage she transforms.
"I try to live my life as an open book, but a lot of persons don't know that I'm very introverted, and pageants and modeling is how I express myself and shine."
Winning the title didn't sink in quickly for her either. On Monday following her win, she went to her legal assistant's job and went about her normal life. She said it would take a while to get adjusted to her different role, including the fact that she now gets interviewed.
She will depart in mid-November for Washington, D.C., for the scheduled December 18 pageant and says in the interim period she will continue with the regimen she had already set in place for her skin and keeping abreast of current affairs.
"To me it's more of a mind game to get prepared," she said.
To win Miss World, a contestant must score the highest points awarded for a range of activities and events that take place from the moment the contestants arrive at the competition. Five challenge events take place in the run-up to the final -- beauty with a purpose, multimedia, sports, talent and top model -- which offer the chance for the contestants to shine, giving them the opportunity to win important points.
One of the most crucial parts of Miss World is the interview round. Towards the end of the month long Miss World event, the contestants all take part in interviews with the judges who delve into the minds of the hopefuls to see what they are truly made of.
As for her crown, it's in a place of pride in the foyer of her home. And she has received a prize package said to be worth approximately $80,000.
En route to taking the title, Hamilton also took home a number of awards -- best national dress, best in evening wear, best in swimsuit, top model and Haus of RvR spokesmodel winner.
Miss Bahamas Organization President Michelle Malcolm said Hamilton would be a "wonderful queen" as she seems levelheaded and goal-oriented and knows how to get the job done.
"Miss World is just a few months away, so we don't have a lot of time. We're going to start preparing her in every way that we can for that competition. We're going to ensure that she gets coaching, the proper wardrobe, we're going to do everything that we can to make sure she's fighting ready come December and that she will finally bring home the Miss World crown to The Bahamas," said Malcolm.
Miss Photogenic -- Shanice Burrows
Miss Amity -- Aria Romer
Best National Dress -- Ashley Hamilton
Best in Evening Wear -- Ashley Hamilton
Best in Swimsuit -- Ashley Hamilton
Most Talented -- Pischia Adderley
Multimedia Award -- Bryneeah Gray
The People's Choice -- Rotalya Williams
Outfit of the Day Challenge Winner -- Shanice Burrows
Miss Popularity -- Geena Thompson
MBO Spirit Award -- Aria Romer
Miss Bahamas Top Model -- Ashley Hamilton
Haus of RvR Spokesmodel winner -- Ashley Hamilton
Myles Munroe Beauty with a Purpose Scholarship -- Rotalya Williams
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