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Recognizing her longstanding support for bringing business and education together, Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA)?President Stuart Bowe recently presented Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Elma Garraway with the BHA Business-Education Partnership Award.
“For many years BHA has recognized the importance of working closely with our schools and our young people by investing in our future. The Ministry of Education’s Permanent Secretary Elma Garraway has played a leadership role in many of our signature programs and for that we are most grateful,” stated President Bowe.
In recent years, she has supported and guided BHA’s work with teachers, students and gu ...
Many of our children are victims to whom life has dealt unfair and unjustifiable blows. Some of them are traumatized because a father is in prison or some close relative was a recent murder victim. Many live in slums and shanty towns, never experiencing the minimum basic necessities of life the privilege few take for granted.
A vast majority are economically deprived. Where is the school feeding program to bail some of them out? Some, all too often, are from broken homes; they know not love and balance from a God-intended two parent family. They are battered by family battles; quarrels and experiences too dehumanizing to record.
We have set no moral code for teachers and support staff in our schools or any public servants anywhere in society. It's the hypocrisy of the pot calling the kettle black. Students are punished for copying the sins of teachers and other adult leaders.
Sex on our school grounds is believed to be commonplace, even in primary schools. No one speaks now of students kicked-out because of pregnancy. The average student has had an excursion into the land of drugs, alcohol, sex, warfare of many dimensions. It is the prevailing culture of our time. It produces the material with which we build the bridge to the future. Is there hope?
Our educational system must wake up, take its head out of the proverbial sand and have street smart advisers as consultants. Then let us advance a brand new approach. The old time guidance counsellor is not equipped to be the gate keeper.
Represented in our schools are the Raiders, the Pick Up Crew, the East Street Mob, Hot Boyz, West Side Raiders, the Mob, the Rebellions, the Lizzy Mob, the Zoe Pound Dogs, Gun Dogs, War Dukes, Hoyas, Pinewood Niggers, the Shebellions, the Masquerades, Jungleliss, Sharks, Syndicates (old people from the raiders and rebellions) the Hornets, the War Kings, Yen Men, the Sniper Devils, the Dogs, the Shields, the Cowboys etc... gangs are spread in pockets all over New Providence with at least one new one being birthed every week. They have now infiltrated the Family Islands.
There are so many different gangs that time and space would not allow for all of them here. I was the lone guidance counsellor at Program SURE for many years. It was the greatest and most naked exposure to life that I have ever had.
I learned of all the gangs. There I met representatives of them all. Many were crying for escape, others were lauding the culture. All to often many could neither read nor write; totally illiterate.
A 12-year-old in the program, with tears in his eyes, looked in my eyes and asked, "Can you please teach me how to read?" He wanted an instant miracle; he saw this as his route out of this enslaving lifestyle. If we could only deploy reading specialists throughout our system.
To our shame we still practice social promotion. We just want illiterates, and therefore troublemakers, out of our hair. We are not conscious of the fact that we push maladjusted illiterates into the path of being "road-scholars" who will now come to exact their pound of flesh from a community that refused to invest time, energy and learning into them.
Why would any child glory in street names such as: Ice, Super, Dope Boy, Patch, Mob Princess, Rye Mob, Doughnut, Mob Cat, Birdman, Bats, Crab, Shocker, Strutter, Donkey? What does this say about their character? Doesn't this indicate character traits? Does this say anything to you about the material available to build the bridge to the future?
In our Bahamas, has fashion replaced common sense? It's amazing how "broke-people" can keep their many children up to date with Tommy, Polo, Dickies, Fubu, Sao, Stacy Adams, Clarkes, Buff fa Leeno Boots, Jordans, Nike, and Rock-a-wear and its big belts with RW on them. Good old Sweet Water was once king and the little money we had went on our education.
We have plenty work to do to rebuild character and instil the all-important spiritual values. Until and unless we find a way to bring back good old fashioned spiritual values we will lose big time.
We must learn to reintroduce the same old values in new packages and thus make them marketable and relevant to our times. Australia is known as the land of chaplaincy, because they have gone at this "whole-hog", as they confront societal woes. There are trained and properly equipped chaplains in every system of life, especially within the schools.
Many other countries are known to take this approach. Our problem in The Bahamas is to define a chaplain. He is not a quack, not a maladjusted clergy person, not simply a prayer warrior. Can we only study these models with the intention to learn from them? We must take a radical approach to the construction of this bridge to the future.
We must not create a new hypocrisy while we try to destroy old ones for the sake of our children. We must think out of the box and dare to bring radical changes in our national system of education etc.
Yes, there is hope, but a radical new approach is the only way to go. New people with new ideas must be brought in, new wine into the old wine skins wouldn't do. The future beckons us. We are building the bridge to the future every day. The time and resources we invest in our children are the material we send up in building this bridge. Therefore then, we must determine here and now the viability of this bridge to the future. Simply put, "we will reap what we sow".
- Rev. Canon S. Sebastian Campbell
The government will spend in excess of $130,000 for repairs at Stephen Dillet and Uriah McPhee primary schools, according to officials.
Coleman Andrews, first assistant secretary of education, said repairs at Stephen Dillet will cost around $70,000, while repairs at Uriah McPhee will cost just over $60,000.
He previously estimated Stephen Dillet would cost around $50,000 to repair.
Problems with the air conditioning units, mold and a rodent infestation were discovered at the schools after the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) staged a sit-in last Thursday over those health concerns.
While both schools were closed for repairs on Friday and Monday, they are expected to be reopened today.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald said mold was discovered in the ceiling last week.
He said no signs of mold were discovered during the Ministry of Education's assessment in April.
"There may be issues that may have arisen [since] April, when we did our scope of work, and there may be some that just arose during the summer when we went to do some works and some things were brought to our attention," Fitzgerald said.
Deputy Director in the Ministry of Works, Caldwell Pratt, who has responsibility for buildings, said a team within the Ministry of Works will conduct general maintenance of the air conditioning units at both schools.
Fitzgerald said there has only been a minimal impact on students after missing four days of classes at the schools.
The only event of the year where designers and visual artists come together to celebrate local arts and culture, Fash/Art is gearing up for its second year with an early call to emerging artists, fashion designers and models to participate.
Set for July 7, 11 a.m. at Doongalik Studios, the meeting, says organizer Kedar Clarke, will be a chance not only for artists to come out and see how they can get exposure, but also for the organizers to see what is trending on the local art and fashion scenes.
"We want people to come out and we want to meet them and see what emerging artists are doing here," said Clarke. "This is it - now's the chance to come and show us what you've got and see how you can fit into and benefit from our event."
Fash/Art 2012 will be a little bit different this year, with the visual art exhibition and fashion show being held on different nights in new locations. Clarke is also planning several seminars and educational opportunities for the selected group of artists and designers to help develop their creative skills into lucrative businesses in order to build up a sustainable creative economy.
"You know the struggle for most artists - they can't create a business from their talents," said Clarke. "So we will have a mentorship opportunity and seminars on merchandising and branding open to all participants in order to cultivate the arts in this country."
Yet the excitement for all selected participants is to come out on top as the ultimate designer, artist and model. Not only will models get a chance to vie for a top spot in the revered PTG Modeling Agency, but fashion designers will compete for a the title of The Harl Taylor Emerging Fashion Designer Award and visual artists for the title of The Jackson Burnside Emerging Artist Award.
Last year's winners - designer Derrika Williamson and photographer Sophia Taylor - have been blown away by the
opportunities presented to them since their exposure last November.
Recently they collaborated on a fashion photo shoot, the results of which are in Sophia Taylor's first solo exhibition, "Beaulah Land", which opened this week at Doongalik Studios. The solo exhibition was one of the perks of winning the Jackson Burnside Emerging Artist Award.
After being approached by one of the event's creators, Taylor entered her work into the 2011 exhibition along with about a dozen other artists vying for their first art show.
The young artist, who is fresh out of the International Baccalaureate Program at the Lyford Cay International School, impressed the judges with her self-taught photography skills and eye for arresting perspectives.
Like Eden, "Beaulah" carries the connotation of a land blessed by the Lord. This favored land manifests as fertile, abundant, serene - a land much like the natural, untouched corners of Caribbean countries.
Indeed in her exhibition, Taylor explores her love for nature in the tropical landscapes of her dual nationalities - The Bahamas and Costa Rica - through gorgeous photographs and paintings.
"I love vibrant colors," she said. "I like to take something that everyone sees and try to put it into a different perspective and angle - so it's the same thing everyone is used to seeing, but the picture is presented differently."
"I want viewers to have a personal connection to my photograph - that they're right there viewing it live," she continued. "Sometimes I wish that my eyes can take pictures - can grasp images. That's what I do in my work, they are what I was there seeing and I capture that moment forever."
Taylor discovered photography years ago in her art studies at The Lyford Cay International School, and has since pursued the craft with the exuberance and dedication of a committed artist. The fact that this young artist is mostly self-taught makes her work all the more impressive, yet she looks forward to formally studying the craft in her college studies in Costa Rica beginning this fall.
"I'm self-trained - I've never had anyone teach me how to use the camera and its settings," she said. "So I hope when I go off to college I can learn some settings and learn how to use my camera properly."
"It's the same thing as using paintbrushes or tools - that's what my camera is, I'm using that to create my art," she added. "There are certain rules you need to apply to photography in order for it to have an aesthetic value."
Having her first gallery show before heading off to college is the perfect start to her artistic career - already, she says, winning the Jackson Burnside Emerging Artist Award has helped her form important relationships to other photographers and the wider art community.
"I've never sold my work so I've learned how to price it properly and set up a show. It's good exposure especially for getting ready for college," she said.
"I got really great feedback. Everyone loved my work, I was surprised - I'm not overly confident, so sometimes when I take pictures and I sit back and review my work, I think, ok, I'm pretty good at this."
"I'd encourage any emerging artist, no matter how young they are, to submit their work to Fash/Art this year."
Her exhibition continues at Doongalik Studios on Village Road until July 17 (Mondays-Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.).
The space - which hosted the first Fash/Art last year - remains committed to the project not only through Jackson Burnside's legacy to young artists but also through Pam Burnside's own training and love for fashion. Doongalik Studios and the Burnsides have always preached to support local artists and craftsmen, which aligns them with Fash/Art's vision to develop local design culture.
"Jackson always made sure he was very involved in encouraging young artists," said Pam Burnside. "Sophia is very talented, and it was wonderful to be able to host her here at Doongalik. We had a wonderful opening this week and people were amazed to find out how talented Sophia is just emerging from high school."
"It has a lot to say for Sandra Illingworth teaching the art programs there in the Lyford Cay School, and also other schools teaching the IB program in The Bahamas that allows the students to really shine," she added. "I say kudos to them."
"We urge everyone to come see the young talent we have and in July to host the casting call for this year's talented artists."
The Fash/Art 2012 meeting commences Saturday, July 7 at 11 a.m. at Doongalik Studios. For more information, check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fash.art.event or e-mail email@example.com.
Recently in this space, there has been a strong focus on the dilemma faced by the Bahamas Cricket Association (BCA). The solid response to the columns have indicated that within the cricket family and indeed outside, there is collectively a great desire for the sport to realize its true potential.
The infighting and the divisive positions taken by some, leading to "the indigenous Bahamians versus the foreign-flavored group" issue must stop for the sport to move ahead.
I have concluded after digesting the various communications received that too much finger-pointing is going on. Thus, it appears that not nearly enough of a collective effort is being made by the big players in the matter.
The view here is that there is insufficient focus on developing the young talent in the country and growing the sport for all and sundry. There seems to be an overwhelming interest in personal agendas. Perhaps a response to my columns from an "outsider" will penetrate the mindset of those who can make a positive difference at this time, for the sake of Bahamian cricket.
John Welch who was the Bahamian National Cricket Coach from 2006 to 2009, is presently the director of RSS Academy Courses in Cambridge, England. RSS Academy is one of the most noted sports coaching schools in all of Europe. Welch is a Level 3 international cricket coach.
His perspective on the Bahamian cricket scene follows:
"I have read with interest your two pieces on Bahamian cricket and thought I would contact you about a couple of aspects. Firstly, I was the English coach who came to The Bahamas in 2006 and stayed for two and a half years and at the end of this position, I extended an invitation to Jermaine Adderley to come over to England for three weeks to train and play. He was a credit to himself and his country in the way he handled himself.
"It was a very successful pilot scheme and I was hoping Jermaine could return. Unfortunately money has always been the main issue for Jermaine to return. I have invited the possibility of any young Bahamian cricketer to come over to England on a scholarship scheme and I am still happy to do this, but someone, somewhere, needs to provide some financial backing to make this happen. I would be more than happy to pursue this possibility again. It would help Bahamas cricket so much, to expose young talent to a first class cricketing system. I have worked with countless international coaches and cricketers (Grant Flower, Richard Dawson, Mark Alleyne just to name a few) and would be more than happy to help young Bahamians.
"I remember with fondness 70-odd children who were actively playing cricket weekly and the 17 primary schools which were introduced to cricket and I hope the majority still are playing. It would be fantastic to try and encourage such a scheme and although my position became untenable at the end of my stay, I still hold Bahamas cricket as a major influence on my career and life."
There you have it, a most generous and informative assessment of the prime possibilities for Bahamian cricket.
Here is a foreigner who does not live in The Bahamas any longer, but he appreciates the level of cricket talent in the nation and is welling to help. What is the message here? Indeed, it must be that for cricket in The Bahamas to strive, the Bahamian and foreign elements are very necessary.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Concert Photos - Festival of Afro Caribbean Composers
Photos show attendees and artists at College of the Bahamas and St Paul's Church Hall Lyford Cay.
My name is Keshelle Davis and I cried last Friday. This confession is probably not a good way to start an article, but it speaks to my intent behind why I write.
On Friday, December 12, 2014 I led a tour of several New Providence schools along with 14-year-old, award-winning American entrepreneur, speaker and author, Gabrielle Jordan. The intent was to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs within our country. As Gabrielle spoke to 100-plus students I observed the reaction on their faces and realized something significant was happening...new seeds of entrepreneurship were being planted in the younger generation.
Over the last five years, through my organization Creative Wealth Bahamas, I've educated, empowered and inspired on the topics of entrepreneurship, youth, women and people in general. However, as I sat and listened to Gabrielle talking to the students it was different. The students were able to relate to someone of their own age. I saw an entirely new era of entrepreneurs being born.
The death of my pastor and mentor Dr. Myles Munroe and other powerful persons on that ill-fated flight, has forced me and many others to stop, think and reflect. It has also inspired me to rethink the concept of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is beyond business. It has more to do with building a legacy than anything else. The founders of many businesses have passed on and the businesses they spent decades building have also died with them. It got me thinking -- what legacy will I leave behind after I am gone?
My definition of an entrepreneur is someone who uses his/her gifts and talents to create an impact and it is not just about making a profit. What would our country or our world look Iike if more people used their gifts and talents to create something of value?
I am on a mission to cultivate a new breed of entrepreneurs in The Bahamas and by extension the world who are interested in creating and leaving a legacy. Being an entrepreneur does not only mean you have to take risks and start your own business. It does mean, however, that you have started something! -- A cause, movement, ministry, etc. that makes a difference in your environment.
So where do you start?
Purpose is one of the main ingredients in starting an entrepreneurial venture. Simon Sinek states "The goal of life is to know why you do what you do." For example, the purpose behind whatever I create is to educate, empower and inspire. I place my business endeavor through this filter before I invest time, effort and energy.
In addition to knowing your purpose, it is important to follow a clear path. Andrew Carnegie in his book "Your Life, Your Legacy" articulates that, "The men who have succeeded are the men who have chosen one line and stick to it." This does not mean sticking to a particular professional, industry or business, it means sticking to your entrepreneurial path. Rodger Hamilton, a famous entrepreneurial systems developer, calls this path your entrepreneurial profile, a profile that is tied to our natural abilities. His premise is that until you follow your natural path, life feels like a struggle and you will find little fulfillment and success.
Hamilton also gives the analogy of different strategies in a sporting game. The soccer player would say "Kick the ball, don't pick it up." The basketball player says "Pick up the ball, don't kick it." Are they contradicting each other? No, they are simply playing different games. The successful entrepreneur knows which game he is in and then plays that game...only that game.
Once you're on the right path, another essential quality to possess is perseverance. Ted Turner proposed "You can never quit!" The very nature of starting something significant takes perseverance. It takes deliberate effort on the part of the entrepreneur and consistency to ensure that the vision, mission, and purpose are fulfilled.
In writing this article, I finally realized why I was never interested in exit strategies as a business concept. If something is part of your purpose, passion and the legacy that you want to create, there is no "exit". You cannot abandon your passion and purpose. The first thing you are told when you get on a plane is where the exits are! However, the exit strategies are for the passengers, not the pilots. The last thing you want to hear when you get on a plane is that the pilot will be leaving at 30,000 feet!
In his book, "Passing it On", Dr. Myles Munroe wrote, "Your legacy should not be in buildings, programs and projects, your legacy must be in people." As entrepreneurs, we can become so consumed with the operational and technical aspects of the business that we forget that it's the people who will carry out the work, even in your absence. As legacy entrepreneurs, our focus should be on the people that power the business. The book goes on to say, "If your business dies when you do, you are a failure."
Another quote by George Washington Carver states: "No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it."
In summary, our country needs more of the type of entrepreneurs who are focused on creating and leaving a legacy for the generations to come. In order to achieve this, it is important that they know their purpose, choose a clear path, persevere in spite of any challenges and work with and through people.
o Keshelle Davis, educator, entrepreneur and author, is the executive director of the Chamber Institute, the education arm of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation. She is also the founder and president of Creative Wealth Bahamas. Keshelle was listed as The Nassau Guardian's Top 40 under 40 for the 40th anniversary celebrations of The Bahamas Independence. Visit Keshelle Davis on Facebook or contact her at email@example.com.
Nassau, Bahamas - Teams
of students from nearly a dozen schools filled the Paul Farquharson
Conference Centre for the 1st annual Enviro-Science Competition
hosted by Ferreira & Company Environmental Attorneys & Consultants
on April 15.
competition, the brainchild of ecologist and attorney Romauld 'Romi'
Ferreira, was designed to inspire high school students to examine environmental
issues and provide a platform for offering solutions.
is the first year we have attempted anything like this and the response
has been overwhelming, absolutely fantastic," said Romi Ferreira,
competition founder, managing partner at Ferreira & Company and
co-host of the popular morning TV show...
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Thirteen educators and community leaders from Nassau, Andros, Great Exuma and Grand Bahama participated in the Bahamas National Trust Environmental Stewardship Programme workshop July 16 - 20. The workshop provided training for the leaders in the implementation of the BNT's Navigator's Certification Programme which is the third level of Discovery Club which targets high school and college students between the ages of 13 -25.
The workshop focused on the Birding Certification course for the Navigators Programme. Participants were introduced to Bird Identification through a series of PowerPoint presentations that introduced the birds by habitat. The presentations were supported by field trips to the Pine Forest, Wetland and Coppice Forest ecosystems.
The participants will be coordinating the BNT's Environmental Stewardship Programme in their Schools or Community. The workshop sought not only to provide natural history information but also included special presentations on Team Building, Leadership Development, and Fostering Environmental Stewardship. Navigation skills were also taught with the group receiving instruction in the practical skills of how to use a compass and a GPS.
Nassau, Bahamas - On Friday
November 19th, Esso in The Bahamas once again hosted the Junior
Junkanoo draw, which determines the order of schools during the parade,
at their Oakes Field On-the-Run location. "The Draw" also marked the
launch of Esso's annual Christmas promotion, which will have drawings
every other week for iPads and a 2011 Ford Fiesta, starting December
The Hon. Charles Maynard, MP, Minister of State in the Ministry of
Youth, Sports and Culture was in attendance, as well as representatives
from the participating schools, coordinators of Junior Junkanoo, and
other distinguished guests, including Percy Vola Francis, the National
Junior Junkanoo co-coordinator. Esso has supported Jr. Junkanoo for
over 20 years and continues to be the main sponsor of the parade with
major contributions to furthering its development...
Pastor Henry Higgins said that he and his wife, Pastor Ann Higgins, have been walking the call that God placed on their lives for many years, and that with their affirmation and consecration as apostles, they finally caught up on earth with what God had ordained in heaven.
APD Limited's tour of The Bahamas has proven effective among everyday Bahamians, Guardian Business has learned, with at least half of the share offering being snatched up by retail investors.
Jamaal Stubbs, senior analyst at CFAL, one of the placement agents for the IPO, said these figures show the outreach program is hitting the mark.
"The mandate from the government was to have the widest share distribution possible," he added. "So far we are definitely meeting that goal. There has been a wide cross-section of Bahamian investors."
The IPO, making up 20 percent of the company's overall equity, has been touted as a landmark opportunity for everyday Bahamians. The investment gives citizens direct equity in the new state-of-the-art Nassau Container Port on Arawak Cay - the only gateway for imports and exports into New Providence.
Stubbs speculated the IPO, worth $10 million, will no doubt exceed that figure considerably. But under the terms of the offering, everyone is guaranteed the minimum buy-in of $500 to protect the average investor.
In fact, Stubbs told Guardian Business, in the end, retail investors should outnumber institutional entities.
Michael Maura Jr., CEO of APD Limited, will conclude the IPO tour today after a couple weeks on the road. The company delegation has filled schools and meeting halls in every corner of the country, he said, from Long Island, to Eleuthera to Exuma.
With no CFAL, Colina, Bank of The Bahamas or New Providence Advisors on some islands, Maura said Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has agreed to step up as a placement agent for the far-flung locales.
The CEO said he has been overwhelmed by the response and interest from everyday Bahamians.
"People are very grateful we have taken the time to give them a chance to see what it's all about. I think there is a fair number of Family Islanders that have not historically had the chance to invest in companies," he told Guardian Business. "The investment opportunity has never been brought to them. We are getting out in front of them and saying how easy it is. Now they are becoming more comfortable."
While the majority of the Bahamians at the meetings won't spend $100,000 on the IPO, Maura felt the opportunity was an encouraging start.
On his end, Stubbs said CFAL is getting some unusual calls.
"We have got calls across the board, including Berry Islands and Crooked Island," he said. "It means the investment will be really spread out."
The current ownership structure of APD Limited includes 40 percent for private shareholders, 40 percent for the government and 20 percent for the public.
Investors have until January 31 to buy shares.
The government's new immigration policy, which mandates that children have a student permit to attend schools beginning fall 2015, comes years after the country became party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which mandates that primary education is "compulsory and available free to all".
According to Article 28 of that convention, "States parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular make primary education compulsory and available free to all."
The convention adds that parties should also "encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need".
Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell's announcement last week that all non-Bahamian students, including those born in The Bahamas, will be required to have a student permit or a passport with a residency stamp, calls into question whether the policy shift will infringe on the rights of the child.
However, in a statement, the Ministry of Immigration and Foreign Affairs suggested that the policy decision does not violate any international conventions.
"The government of The Bahamas respects the prevalence of the rule of law; it is not the policy of the government to violate the rights of any individual and at all material times this country will act in a manner consonant with its international obligations toward children and the stateless," the statement said.
The policy is a part of a wider mandate to crack down on illegal immigration.
When asked about the rights of children during a previous interview, Director of Education Lionel Sands said the Department of Education does not concern itself with the status of the children attending government schools or the status of their parents.
"The Bahamas is a party to many international conventions and one of those conventions (Convention on the Rights of the Child) stresses that any school age child in the country should be allowed to attend school until such time as they are either repatriated to their homeland or they return," he said.
"That's the reason we have any number of children in our schools who are not indigenous children because of that particular convention."
Sands was contacted for comment back in November following the implementation of the policy, which requires all non-Bahamians to have passports of their nationalities and evidence that they have permission to live and work in The Bahamas.
At the time, there was confusion and fear surrounding what would happen to the children attending public schools who had no legal status in the country.
Sands said it is unclear how many illegal immigrants are in the public school system.
"When we take registration, the thing that we do ask, number one, is for the immunization card to ensure that they are immunized against any diseases that may spread in the country," Sands explained, when asked about the registration process.
"And so, that is one of the requirements for entry into the schools. But we don't ask them if their parents are here legally or illegally. We don't do that. That's an immigration problem and so immigration would deal with that.
"In terms of verifying that the children are who they are presented to be, we ask for documentation."
Asked whether he is concerned about the presence of illegal immigrants in the school system, Sands said no.
He said when officials educate children they're making way for a better community.
However, he did indicate that the wider Bahamian population may be concerned about the money the government spends to educate them.
"For every child that attends school, the government pays a hefty price," he noted.
"When you look at the budget for the Department of Education alone, you're talking about over $200 million a year.
"So when you divide the $200 million a year with the 51,000 [students], you're spending some money. So in that sense, yes, there is some concern because we're spending so much money and that doesn't even speak to the health services or the other services.
"...There will be concern...but we do it out of obligation. The final analysis is we want to ensure that those who are living here illegally, they are educated to the point where they are able to function properly in this community until such time that they are repatriated or they regularize their status. We can't wait until that happens, [before] we educate them."
In our fortieth year of independence as a country, we as a free people remain on the outside of the lucrative gaming sector in The Bahamas. Foreigners come to The Bahamas and make millions in gaming, taking profits out of our country to their benefit. Many have even left our shores without paying the taxes owed to our government.
We urge the government to exercise fiscal prudence and resist the temptation to over-spend, as tends to be the case in a post-election environment.
Acknowledging that the government had very little time to roll-out the new budget, there clearly needs to be some restructuring to allow more flexibility in future budgets. These continue to be extra-ordinary economic times that require bold, creative and extra-ordinary solutions.
Successive governments have in effect "borrowed to pay the light bills" and this does not bode well for future of the economy. In these uncertain economic times, the government must lead by example and do a better job of living within its means.
The budgeting process is undoubtedly fraught with complexity, given commitments from prior periods as well as servicing of existing debt commitments. However, the Ministry of Finance must employ more "ground-up" creative private sector style thinking to increase revenues, slash expenses, eliminate waste and create greater administrative efficiencies. In simplistic terms, with a total expenditure of $1.8 billion, a reduction by a mere 7.5 percent, would free up in excess of $135 million to allocate to debt reduction, or to build schools, hospitals and support the development of businesses.
We should remain cognizant of the recent downgrades of The Bahamas sovereign rating by international agencies. Any further slide will make it more difficult and more expensive for the Bahamas to borrow and potentially make us a less attractive jurisdiction to do business from an international perspective.
With respect to increases in revenues, I commend the government on its initiatives designed to stimulate the economy, namely the reduction in stamp tax, the cap on real property tax, the Grand Bahama tax cuts and other incentives designed to create activity. The new Ministry of Financial Services is a step in the right direction and holds significant implications for the further development of The Bahamas as an offshore center whilst also deepening local participation. Of potentially greater impact, is the new Minister of State for Investments portfolio.
Hopefully this will create some traction in attracting new business and new industries to the Bahamas to mitigate the over-reliance on our two main industries, being tourism & financial services, and reduce the vulnerability of the economy. I look forward to a review of the finer details where hopefully we will see more opportunities for job creation, specifically allocations for SME development.
Further, as an Exumian, I am particularly pleased with respect to the duty exemptions that are being re-initiated for the island of Exuma. We saw how this initiative helped to drive the construction sector and the development of the island in the past. This is a good start to what must morph into a comprehensive plan for family island development.
We welcome the new proposed pension legislation, which is long over-due. Whilst we welcome it as an initiative to administer and regulate pensions for the protection of employees, I would be concerned about any provision that would allow early access to pension savings. In a climate where less than 25 percent of workers have private pension schemes and savings and with a citizenry with poor savings habits, dialogue on mandatory pension savings would be welcomed for the enhancement of standard of living for individuals and a much needed boost to the capital markets of the Bahamas.
Expansion of the economy is key to increasing overall revenues. However, when it comes to the fundamentals of revenue collection, we cannot expect different results by consistently tinkering here and there with customs duties and real property taxes. We are supportive of the government's intention to move to a more progressive alternative form of taxation like VAT that improves the efficiency of collection, reduces leakages, and broadens the tax base to include services that are now exempt.
Interestingly, the challenge today is similar to that faced by the Christie administration in 2002 in a post 9/11 environment.
What was different, however, was a robust international financial market where Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) could thrive, thereby expanding the economy. Whilst we must aggressively attract FDI we cannot rely on it to bail us out. This is a different world today with a global recession, anemic credit markets in the USA, and the European Sovereign Debt crisis limiting the potential for credit for FDI's and economic expansion generally. We must, therefore, continue to execute well-considered, proactive and disciplined fiscal measures with a view to maintaining and ultimately reducing deficit levels.
MOSS TOWN, Exuma -- Exuma could be the gateway for athletes in the Central Bahamas to qualify for regional and international competitive sports. This was echoed by sporting officials, including Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson at the recently held Sandals L.N. Coakley Track and Field Invitational Classic.
"I think Exuma can host the central regional sports championship of The Bahamas and we look forward to it soon," Minister Johnson said.
The high hopes to revitalize the stagnant sports programs in Exuma is coupled with the ministry's Family Island Sports Complex Project initiative that Johnson promised would come to fruition in 2014.
"You are going to get a proper facility, you are going to see a sailing academy and proper sports management," he said.
Dr. Johnson emphasized the importance of such improvements in Exuma, saying sports opens doors for students to have opportunities of exposure and advancement.
Similarly, administrator within the sports unit at the Ministry of Education in charge of after school programs, Evon Wisdom, told athletes that they can pre-qualify for the CARITA Games and other junior regional and international meets, in Exuma. He said that Exuma has great potential to host international competitive sports meets.
"The importance is the central location, in terms of the island itself. The Onion Bowl, even though only an asphalt surface, is so picturesque and we find this centralized location ideal for all schools within The Bahamas to come to, and we only see growth in this area for the island of Exuma.
"We can get a fairly large inter scholastic golf championship, a sailing championship for all athletes in the world."
Wisdom also stressed that the success of such events would rely heavily on the collaboration of Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Ministry of Tourism and the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort.
The meet featured athletes from L.N. Coakley High, St Andrew's School, Forecast Academy International of Exuma, C.V. Bethel High School and several local primary school teams.
Coaches Ednol Rolle and Ann Bullard were the organizers of the event. Rolle said: "Next year, the plan is to invite more schools; my dream is to continue the trend every year to give students of Exuma the opportunity to get exposure and to compete."
According to Rolle, athletes in New Providence have a greater advantage because they compete more often than those in the Family Islands.
The invitational, which once hosted hundreds of athletes from across the length and breadth of The Bahamas, was resuscitated after a decade long hiatus, with Sandals Emerald Bay as its main sponsor. General Manager of Sandals Emerald Bay, Jeremy Mutton, expressed that the sponsorship is a continuation of the partnership between the resort and the island's lone government high school.
Grand Bahama is known as the industrial capital of The Bahamas. The work force is a combination of Bahamian and foreign workers. From all indications the sector will continue to grow hence the ongoing need for additional skilled and un-skilled labor. The leadership at the Freeport Container Port (FCP) is committed to increasing the number of Bahamian workers who are properly trained to take advantage of existing and emerging employment in this sector.
Toward this end, FCP and several industrial companies are partnering with one of the two most significant trade schools in Grand Bahama - Total Education Center (TEC). It is envisaged that TEC will take technical education to another level through its 'Second Chances' Program - a quarterly course that allows remedial high-school students a chance at becoming certified in various trades.
In order to draw greater attention to the importance of and opportunities through technical education a two-day career fair was held early June. The program director of the annual Career Fair and Technical Education Workshop explained the importance of the partnership, deeming the Container Port's impact on the program 'important' and acknowledging the positive outcome it yields. Shani Hann, principal of TEC is especially committed to the Career Fair due to the fact that it creates an opportunity for the students to meet industry professionals so that students would not only learn the various trades but build lasting relationships.
TEC's primary goal is facilitating technical learning. Now it's growing connection with the Freeport Container Port and other industrial companies enables it to open up a world of career opportunities for its students. Leaders in the industrial sector note that this synergy is good for the sector and TEC. According to Fred Delancy, founder and director of Total Education Centre, the partnership TEC enjoys with the industrial sector gives his students a decided advantage when pursuing employment in the sector. It is important to note that although the Freeport Container Port is showcased as a premiere corporate company involved, other companies such as BORCO/Vopak, Bahama Rock, G.B Shipyard and Freeport Gases Ltd. have joined in the program to strengthen technical awareness.
Jointly and independent of each other TEC and FCP are producing a new generation of technicians. TEC offers three programs for technical certification. The Freeport Container Port has implemented its own curriculum that entails assessments, berth operating, crane checking and straddle driving. The two-month long training exercise is concluded with an issuance of a certificate upon successful completion of each discipline. The FCP training began on June 18, 2012.
Preparing the next generation of technicians in conjunction with TEC is a continuation of a long tradition in the Hutchison group of companies. One example is the fact that FCP has, for several years, trained in-house outstanding young Grand Bahamians in technical fields. The goal was to attract the brightest high school graduates and provide them with first class training and in turn job opportunities upon completion. Some of the company's rising stars are graduates of this technical cadet core program.
Policy makers, veteran educators and industry leaders all share the view that an investment in technical education will pay substantial dividends for the sector and ultimately the country. The strategic view is that to the extent that the country has a large pool of skilled workers ready for emerging opportunities The Bahamas would be in a far better position to promote itself as a prime destination for investors looking for ideal geographical location, advantageous concessions and a strong diverse cadre of technical professionals.
HERE'S a look at the final team scores from the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools' Track and Field Championships that wrapped up yesterday at the Thoms A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium:
1 Saint Augustine's College
5 SAC 1418
2 Queens College
11 QC 1102
3 Saint John's College
6 SJC 426.5
4 Saint Anne's
14 SAS 424
5 Temple Christian Schools
6 Saint Andrews School
13 SA 278
7 Jordan Prince William
12 PWH 192
8 Nassau Christian Academy
9 NC 183
9 Aquinas College
10 AQ 127.5
10 Charles W. Saunders
11 Faith Temple Academy
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Twenty-two years ago when you first elected me at age 42 as your Party Leader, I could best have been described as an improbable choice having previously been Chairman of, Member of Parliament for, and Cabinet Minister in, the PLP Government.
With their North Abaco candidate, Greg Gomez, under fire following a Guardian Radio interview that aired yesterday, officials of the Free National Movement (FNM) last night released a statement saying they have evidence to support his claim that he taught in Miami Dade County, although they did not provide it despite several requests.
I was happy to join Mangrove Cay and South Andros at their Grill ní Chill festivities last week. I enjoyed it very much and now I have come to Central Andros today.
The Constitutional Referendum Amendment Bill passed in the House of Assembly last night with the support of the governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and one member of the opposition Free National Movement (FNM).
South Abaco FNM MP Edison Key voted with the PLP on the bill.
Itís nearly time! This voyage is nearly over. Soon we will bring the Bahamian Ship-of-State back to Port.
When we pull into Port here in Nassau some people will have difficulty recognizing the place as the same City from which we set sale on May 4th, 2007. When we disembark we will offer to provide a tour of New Providence for some of the returning crew who have been on this heavy tour-of-duty, working and producing and not necessarily counting many of the accomplishments along the way:
Itís nearly time! This voyage is nearly over. Soon we will bring the Bahamian Ship-of-State back to Port.
Free National Movement (FNM) spokesman Tommy Turnquest yesterday accused Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Perry Christie of growing desperation to gain power, and claimed the report his wife Bernadette Christie gave police about an alleged spitting incident does not match what she and her husband told reporters during the advanced poll on Tuesday.
"When interviewed by the police, Mrs. Christie told the investigating police officer that while the man talking to her had saliva coming from his mouth, she was never spat on or spat at," Turnquest said in a statement.
He said Mr. Christie should retract the allegation he made to reporters on Tuesday, and called it shameful.
While on the campaign trail in Crooked Island yesterday, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham also addressed the matter. Ingraham said it is not true that someone spat on Mrs. Christie.
"That is not so; no one spat on Bernadette and no one should have," he said. "We don't go that way; we're not for that. We want a peaceful election."
Many callers into radio talk shows expressed outrage over the alleged incident yesterday.
Mr. Christie told reporters that his wife was verbally assaulted and spat at by an FNM supporter as the couple went to vote in the advanced general election poll at the Bahamas Tourism Training Centre.
"When we were coming in here this morning my wife had the window down, I had the window down and an FNM spat at my wife, came to the car and spat. That is disgraceful. The next one said 'Why don't you go back to the [United] States [with] your sissy husband?'," Christie said.
"One, she is here in The Bahamas with her husband who she has been married to for a hell of a lot of years, and two, anyone who knows me will know [I'm] no sissy."
Mrs. Christie told reporters that an elderly gentleman in a red shirt spat at her while a woman insulted them. She said she planned to make a complaint with the police about the incident.
While Turnquest said yesterday that Mrs. Christie told police that she was never spat at or on, police said in a statement Tuesday night that they can confirm that they are "investigating a complaint made by a female at the advanced poll".
The incident reportedly occurred shortly before 11 a.m. on Tuesday, police said.
"It is alleged that the female was spat on by a person in the crowd," the police said. "The matter is being actively investigated by a team of officers from the Special Investigation Team (SIT), Central Detective Unit."
Turnquest also responded to Christie's allegation that the government is using the public treasury to bribe voters.
Turnquest, the Free National Movement's spokesman, said Christie is 'desperate' to return to power and is willing to say anything to mislead voters.
"This is a new low even for Perry Christie," he said.
On Tuesday, Christie accused the governing party of seeking to bribe voters with jobs and contracts, and pledged that if his party wins the next election it would ensure legislation is passed to prevent a government from handing out contracts or jobs during an election campaign.
Turnquest said Christie's claims are completely baseless.
"Mr. Christie did not point to a single instance to support this wild statement," Turnquest said.
"There are no new or unexpected government contracts being signed that were not previously anticipated.
"We have been building hospitals and schools and filling needed positions throughout the government for five years as we cleaned up the mess left by the PLP during their last term in office."
This column was first published on July 20, 2010
At a recent service marking his demission from office, the head of a prominent denomination offered the heated view that the Bahamian economy desperately needs to be diversified.
He proclaimed that he had advised successive governments of this need, but that his advice went unheeded. Unfortunately, the religious head seems as expert in economics as Donald Trump may be in theology.
His is the latest example of a public figure who should know better than repeating the wearying and inaccurate conventional wisdom regarding the actual nature and level of diversification of the Bahamian economy.
This same ignorance continues to bubble to the surface by those running around panicking like the fabled Henny Penny that the sky is falling in terms of the supposed dire threat of Cuba to the Bahamian tourism industry.
One of the accompanying arguments is that because of the apparent normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States that The Bahamas had best quickly pivot from tourism and diversify into other industries.
This view reflects a failure to grasp economics, including the economics of tourism. It is also stunningly ignorant of Bahamian history. Whether or not you believe Sir Stafford Sands should be on the $10 bill, he's there for a reason.
Sir Stafford understood the cycle of boom and bust that haunted The Bahamas for centuries with the rise and fall of industries - including wrecking. Then in the 1930s the Bahamian economy collapsed with the end of Prohibition in 1933 and the devastation of the sponging industry by a marine disease in 1938.
To diversify the economy, Sir Stafford and others concluded that a year-round tourism industry would stabilize the Bahamian economy, assigning the cycle of boom and bust to the history books. This historic achievement was also made possible by taking advantage of technologies from the jetliner to air conditioning. Way before all of the 21st century talk of globalization and service-based economies, the Bahamas was on the cutting-edge in the mid-20th century.
Despite many downturns, including the Great Depression of the last century and the current severe global economic crisis, the Bahamian economy is generally healthy. Tourism has made our economy quite resilient, the envy of many countries, including our Caribbean neighbors. This resilience has been boosted by the country's diversification into financial services and other industries.
The success rate of commodity production and export in The Bahamas is mixed. Sponging collapsed, as did peanut farming in Andros, sugar in Abaco, pineapples in Eleuthera, onions in Exuma and sisal in various islands. Had these survived, they collectively would not have generated the level of economic activity and employment of tourism. Incidentally, after many years, Bacardi ended rum production in The Bahamas.
The distributive and sustainable power of tourism is more enduring than many other industries. The Caribbean has learned this lesson - painfully so - from the instability of bauxite in Jamaica to sugar and bananas throughout the region.
An alphabet soup of self-interests masquerading as free traders have dealt serious blows to the economies of the Caribbean: From the EU and the USA on bananas, NAFTA in terms of textiles, and the OECD on financial services. Yet, tourism has generally survived hurricanes manufactured by humans and nature.
Meanwhile, the former religious head, who clearly does not understand economics, should pause and recall that most of the money offered up for collection - comes from tourism. Those who preach of justice should consider: Many of the demands for social and distributive justice they seek, may be been best achieved by tourism.
Undoubtedly, there is still much to be done to better spread the economic and related benefits of tourism. Yet, on balance, tourism makes good economic and ethical sense. And the country continues to make progress in terms of greater Bahamian ownership of the industry. One area of great promise is the multimillion dollar heritage tourism sector.
Still, many are blind to the facts staring them in the face, with the fact of diversification seemingly of little consequence. This includes, among other examples, The Bahamas serving as a major financial services centre and hosting a major transshipment center as well as the world's largest cruise ship repair facility.
The Bahamas boasts one of the largest ship registration centers in the world, and continues to boost its maritime services industry. The country now hosts the annual Bahamas International Maritime Conference and Trade Show to promote the ongoing development of and diversification within this industry.
Lest we forget, Grand Bahama was also home to an oil refinery, BORCO, and Syntex, a pharmaceutical company. The near full employment of Inagua powered by salt, and Spanish Wells by fisheries, also seems to elude the notice of those who have conveniently forgotten that aragonite was mined in Bimini and that The Bahamas has had boat-building and straw-work industries.
Still, tourism will remain our main industry for the foreseeable future, for many good reasons. With less than 400,000 people our best bet is as a service-based economy.
We will never be a power in agriculture, fisheries or manufacturing, though we can successfully enter into niche markets in these and other areas. Moreover, these industries can only employ so many Bahamians.
But we can leverage our small population, stability and strategic location to punch way above our weight in tourism, financial and maritime services, international arbitration, offshore educational services and other industries.
Despite tourism's exposure to external threats, we have more control over protecting tourism than any other industry. Our challenge is ongoing diversification within tourism, while promoting linkages between other industries and our main industry.
Asked his thoughts on a world energy crisis, the American architect and futurist, Buckminster Fuller pressed: "There is no energy crisis, only a crisis of ignorance." In many ways, the so-called long-term economic crisis some see in The Bahamas related to tourism is a crisis of ignorance and imagination.
The task for the 21st century Bahamas is to eschew an ignorance of our economic history while replacing ignorance over what is possible for the economy. That ignorance can be overcome with the sort of imagination which prompted Sir Stafford Sands and others to recognize that in many ways tourism and The Bahamas were made for each another.
The current Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, understands our current historic challenge. He has the imagination and experience to extend Sir Stafford's vision even further than the man who has been dubbed as the "Father of Tourism".
While Sir Stafford knew that tourism would create mass employment, he did not envision ownership of various elements of this industry by black Bahamians. Mr. Vanderpool Wallace understands the power of tourism to create employment, wealth and considerable opportunities for all Bahamians.
But to leverage these opportunities the Minister understands that the country has to invest in critical infrastructure. This infrastructure is needed for innovation within and the ongoing diversification of our main industry.
He knows that there are at least three 'Ts' that the country needs to improve: transportation networks, technology and training inclusive of our schools and retraining programs for adults.
From better utilization of the internet, to making travel through the country more seamless for tourists from booking to actual journey, to better educating ourselves, our challenges are clear, urgent and possible.
Moreover, the question today is not the sustainability and possibilities within the tourism industry. The question is whether we have the imagination and will to transform the industry to take greater advantage of these possibilities in a sustainable manner.