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News Article
How food color can warp time when cooking

Ever tried toasting hamburger buns on a grill? It takes uncanny timing to achieve an even medium brown across the buns. Typically, they remain white for what seems like far too long. Then it's as if time accelerates, and they blow past toasted to burnt in the time it takes to flip the burgers.
The same phenomenon is at work when you toast a marshmallow over a campfire: wait and turn, wait and turn... then brown, black and -- poof! -- it's aflame. The problem is perhaps most acute when cooking shiny-skinned fish on a grill or under a broiler. Once the skin turns from silver to brown, the heat pours into the fillet, and the window of opportunity for perfect doneness slams shut with amazing speed.
Anytime you cook light-colored food with high heat, inattention is a recipe for disaster. But the physics here is pretty simple, and once you understand it you can use several methods to improve your odds of making that perfectly toasted bun, golden half-melted marshmallow, or juicy grilled fillet.
At high temperatures -- about 400 F (200 C) and up -- a substantial part of the heat that reaches the food arrives in the form of infrared light waves rather than via hot air or steam.
The higher the temperature, the bigger the part that radiant heat plays in cooking. But this form of heat interacts with color in a profound way.
The bottom of a hamburger bun looks white because it reflects most of the visible light that hits it, and the same is true for infrared heat rays. There is a reason that white cars are popular in Phoenix -- they stay cooler in the sunshine, which is full of infrared radiation.
A silvery, mirror-like fish skin is even more reflective than a white car. About 90 percent of the radiant heat striking it simply bounces away. Because only around 10 percent of the energy sinks in and warms the fish, cooking initially creeps along slowly but steadily.
That changes rapidly, however, as soon as the food gets hot enough to brown. It's like changing from a white shirt to a black shirt on a sunny summer day. As the food darkens, that 10 percent of energy absorbed rises by leaps and bounds, and the temperature at the surface of the food soars.
So browning accelerates, which increases heat absorption, which boosts the temperature; it's a vicious circle. By the time you can get a spatula under the fillet to flip it over, it may be almost black, reflecting just 10 percent of the heat and sucking in 90 percent.
There are at least three ways around this problem. The simplest is to stare, hawk-like, at the food and lower or remove the heat as soon as browning starts. That works fine for marshmallows but is not always practical in the kitchen or backyard barbecue.
In some cases, you can darken the color of the food at the start, for example by slathering it with a dark sauce or searing it in a very hot skillet before putting it on the grill. This is a way to make a fish steak cook more like a beef steak, which is fairly dark even when raw and so doesn't experience such a dramatic shift in heat absorption. This method generally shortens the cooking time.
Finally, try piling other ingredients, such as sliced onions or zucchini, between the food and the coals or the broiler element to moderate the intensity of the radiant heat. Cooking times will lengthen -- and you may end up having to toss out the sacrificial buffer ingredients if they get charred -- but that window of opportunity will stay open longer.

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News Article
Living up to a legacy of excellence

Dreams are bigger than the problems that try to disillusion you.  This is the belief of 14-year-old Kathie-Lee Petsch, a tenth grade student at N.G.M. Major High School in Long Island.  The over-achiever, who was recognized at the Ministry of Education's annual national awards presentation for the best overall performance by a female student in the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) in the public schools, with seven A and two B grades, said hard work and perseverance are the things she lives by when it comes to her education.
Kathie-Lee chalks up her incredible drive to the loving memory of her father, Andreas Petsch, a German electrical engineer who was murdered when she was just 15 months old.
Although she never got to know her dad she feels that her academic achievements make him proud and she hopes to keep doing her best.
Even though he's not actively in her life, she still believes she is connected to her father and inherited his passion and love for education.  In her dad's memory, the student with the best BJC results in Math and Science at North Long Island High School are presented with an award. Petsch has proudly presented the award to a deserving student for the past four years.
To get to where she is academically, Kathie-Lee understands the value of time management and takes advantage of opportunities.
"I did not get where I am overnight," said the honor roll student.  "It's about working hard and being consistent.  It's about balance and time management.  It's about making goals and sticking to them.  I am not saying it's not always going to be hard to stay on top, but it's important to do the extra work even when you don't have to, so you don't get overwhelmed."
Her method for studying effectively is to find a quiet corner in any given environment (preferably her home) and tackle her most intense subjects like Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Mathematics and English first. Then she relaxes and catches up on subjects that are easier for her like Spanish and Commerce.  She has a strict evening schedule that she adheres to after school so that she does not lose her focus or fall behind in her studies.
Kathie-Lee also believes in always challenging herself and not getting comfortable even if she attains a goal. Even though she did well in her BJC's and received A grades in English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Health Science, General Science, Religious Knowledge and Technical Drawing, and a B grade in Art and Design, she said that does not distract her.  She's upping the ante as she aims for a perfect 4.0 grade point average.  It's currently 3.39.
"I know I am capable of getting a 4.0 grade point average, so I am looking forward to really showing that I can.  I am currently still getting used to my new courses and I am sure in no time I will do what I set out to do."
She said she really needs to keep up her grades if she wants to get into a good university and make her dream of becoming a pediatric psychologist a reality.
Determination and persistence is only one of the key ingredients to Kathie-Lee's recipe for success.  Her familial support system which she feels is unshakeable is also key.  She's an only child, but she lives in a home with five other people, including her mother, Lucinda Petsch and aunts Janetta and Dezerine Cooper, grandmother Rowena Cooper and an eight-year-old cousin Deneshia Johnson. She says their presence gives her the sense of home and support that makes her comfortable and relaxed enough to study her best.
"My mother is especially very supportive of me and is always interested in what I am doing or studying.  She ensures she knows exactly what is going on and if I don't know something she helps me.  If she can't help, she ensures she gets me the resources so I can learn and do my best."
While she strives to do her best academically, Kathie-Lee says she also knows that there is much more to life and to being a good student than simply cramming her mind with facts and equations.  She also values extra-curricular activities and makes time to have fun.  She is active in the Governor General Youth Awards Program and has gotten the bronze and silver medals of achievement.  She is also part of the Bahamas Youth Network -- a Christian-focused group that focuses on community services. To enhance her Spanish-speaking skills she also joined Club Bajamar and hopes to travel to Cuba during the Easter break to make use of what she's learned.  She also ensures she keeps her focus on God in all that she does in being a member of her church's (Church of God the Bight) youth and young adult group, the Family Training Hour.  The smart student even takes time out to be a part of the peer tutoring program in her school, which encourages academically-gifted students to assist those who are struggling with their work.
"I think it's very important to be active in things other than my schoolwork.  Being in numerous activities forces me to manage my time better," she says.  "I also am useful to my community and make myself more well-rounded [because] being in numerous clubs also looks good on my college resume.  Besides you do need to relax sometimes, learn new things and just have fun."
Her advice to all students who wish to excel is to always continue to strive for excellence in all they do.  She says achieveing perfect A grades is always great, but said it is not right to judge what others can do to what you know you are capable of.  If your best grade is a C or a B, then she said you should do your best to achieve those grades. As long as you work as hard as you can, she said knowing that you could not have given anything more -- whatever achievement -- should make you proud.
"I understand that not everyone is the same and what is easy for me is hard for others or the other way around.  I always advise others to do what is best for them and work as hard as they can.  If you need help get it, but the real key to all of this is doing what you personally can and continuing to challenge yourself.  Do not procrastinate when it comes to your work, and it never hurts to ask questions.  No one knows everything, so as long as you remember that you will not only do well but you will be the best that you can be."

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News Article
DPM denies Wells had authority to sign with energy company

Parliamentary Secretary Renward Wells would not confirm or deny if he signed a letter of intent (LOI) with a proposed foreign investor seeking to construct a $625-$675 million waste-to-energy plant, as government ministers claimed that they were unaware of the LOI and claimed that Wells would not have had authority to sign the document.
On Friday, Guardian Business reported that Stellar Waste to Energy Bahamas (SWTEB), headed by investment banker Dr. Fabrizio Zanaboni, had signed a letter of intent with the government with the objective of conducting studies with a view to ultimately develop the multimillion-dollar waste-to-energy plant at the New Providence landfill.
The document seen by Guardian Business, stated
that it was signed on July 4 by Stellar Waste to Energy Bahamas Ltd. Principal Dr. Fabrizio Zanaboni and by Parliamentary Secretary Renward Wells, former chairman of the National Energy Task Force.
Wells has a history of supporting an overhaul of the landfill. He went on record in August of 2013 as saying that the current state of the landfill is a "lose-lose situation" for the country, with "enormous" potential to be used for the production of energy and recyclable materials. His comments came after the NETF, appointed in April 2013, had reviewed close to 100 proposals for energy-related projects submitted to the government.
However, contacted for comment on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development Philip Davis, Minister of the Environment Kenred Dorsett and another minister speaking on condition of anonymity all stated that they were not aware of such a signing, adding that Wells would not have the legal authority to execute such a letter at any rate.
Davis said of the LOI: "I know nothing about this. I know of Stellar Energy. I know this company had put in a proposal some time ago, and that's what I know about it. I know they would've met me once or twice to explain their proposal to me, but a matter of signing an LOI is something that would require Cabinet's intervention. I don't know that a parliamentary secretary would have authority to sign such a document without the direction of Cabinet; I don't know how this came about."
He added: "As far as we are in the process of, there's an RFP that's been responded to, and any waste to energy component has been put on hold until we would've dealt with BEC."
Contacted for comment on the ministers' claims that he was not authorized to carry out the signing of the document seen by Guardian Business, Wells appeared to agree, stating via text message: "Only the DPM or Minister Ken Dorsett can sign a letter of intent to bid the government of The Bahamas to anything concerning waste to energy."
Asked by text message if he did sign the letter of intent as it indicates, Wells did not respond. Pressed as to whether he was indicating that the letter was a forgery, Wells again did not respond. When Guardian Business attempted to reach Wells by phone call, he did not pick up and a voicemail message seeking further comment was not returned.

'Huge significance'
On his part, Dr. Zanaboni participated enthusiastically in interviews about the project and LOI with Guardian Business on Friday morning after this newspaper revealed the apparent signing.
He said: "The project has a huge significance and impact on The Bahamas, both to create a modern energy platform of renewable/hybrid energies based on zero-cost and zero-impact on the environment, reduce by 30 percent the electricity tariffs to attract business and relieve financially the general public, employ a large number of Bahamians - not Chinese - both on a temporary and permanent basis, import new state of the art plasma arc technologies, generate training opportunities for young Bahamians - in physics and plasma engineering - and last but not least produce a positive impact
on BEC's bottom line by over $100 million, due to the fuel savings on their latest fuel bill of $375 million."
Contacted later on Friday to respond to the government officials' statements and asked if he had sat with Wells, Dr. Zanaboni said: "The LOI has been signed by Mr. Renward Wells. We received the LOI. It was arranged by a local partner. The LOI was prepared, and we believe it was signed by Mr. Wells. I cannot comment on whether or not he had the authority to sign it. I understand that he is parliamentary secretary and close to the prime minister, so I believe he has the authority. He is a very reliable person, and we believe everything has been done properly".
He added: "I think this is all getting political. We have the support of the prime minister."
The letter of intent seen by Guardian Business went into fairly extensive detail on the responsibilities of SWTEB, which aims to construct a fully self-funded waste to energy plant at the landfill that would burn garbage in order to produce up to 70 to 80 megawatts of power, around 29 to 33 percent of New Providence's total power demand.
The document said that the company would initiate studies right away with a view to beginning construction on the plant once these were complete. It was stated that around 1,500 metric tons of waste would be required to fuel the plant on a daily basis, and the company would move ahead based on the closure of a 25-year power purchase agreement with the Bahamas Electricity Corporation.
Plans were outlined to conduct an initial public offering (IPO) within 24 months of the LOI's signing in order to provide the Bahamian public with an ownership stake in the company, which projects a mid-to-end of 2016 launch of the waste to energy plant.

Heads of agreement
Zanaboni claims that the company has access to an initial $40 million loan from a banking institution in the U.K. to launch its initial studies and once these are completed, would aim to enter into a heads of agreement with the government.
"We are making contact with some local companies for an initial private equity offering and then an I.P.O. next year. One of our objectives is to have this project 90 percent funded in The Bahamas. We will only involve foreign investors to participate if there is a shortfall in funding from Bahamian investors," said the banker.
Adding to the confusion over the situation, as Guardian Business reported on Friday, the responsibilities given to SWTEB appear to conflict with those stated as belonging to Renew Bahamas, a company which Minister of the Environment Kenred Dorsett announced last month had taken over the management of the landfill with a view to constructing a recycling plant that will use garbage at the site to make recycled products. The contract signed with Renew Bahamas had been criticized by individuals such as Chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) Robert Myers, who questioned the "unusual manner" in which it was quietly awarded, and whether it was done according to a "fair and transparent" bidding process.
Beyond concern over how the LOI came into being, early reactions to the content of the LOI with SWTEB included surprise at the mega watt output which the company indicated it could produce based on the garbage flowing into the landfill.
Phenton Neymour, former minister of state for the environment, said that reports produced for the government by German engineering consultancy Fichtner in 2010 had suggested a maximum 20 to 25 mega watt output of energy from any waste to energy plant implemented at the landfill site.
Guardian Business understands that the waste-to-energy project previously proposed by the Bahamian consortium of waste management companies also suggested the landfill had the capacity to generate around 20 to 25 MW of power, if used to fuel a waste-to-energy plant.

Zanaboni said yesterday that the company stood out because it proposed a type of technology that no one else did.
"The reason why we were chosen has everything to do with the technology we are using compared with other people. We're only the ones who have plasma gasification, which allows for a higher BTU (British thermal unit) output. No other competitor proposed plasma gasification," said Zanaboni.
Asked why he thinks the letter of intent was being signed notwithstanding the government's earlier indications that it would postpone a decision on renewable energy, including waste-to-energy, until after the BEC reform process was complete, Zanaboni added: "I can only think, and it's just my guess, that the RFP seems to have run into difficulties. The decision was due last year and it's now six months late, and so maybe now they have decided to put waste-to-energy back on the front burner as it's probably easier to implement that power reform."
His comments in this regard appear to be somewhat validated by those made in an interview with Guardian Business by Philip Davis on Friday, in which he indicated the government "may find a better path" to achieve cost reductions than executing contracts with current BEC bidders. However, he also admitted no final decision has been reached in this regard.
Zanaboni said that SWTEB was one of the companies which participated in the BEC request for proposal (RFP) process.

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News Article
Outstanding leadership and academic achievement celebrated at COB

NASSAU, Bahamas -- The prospect of receiving an award for being academically exceptional was never at the forefront of Ricara Skippings' mind as she matriculated through her Bachelor of Business Administration (Accounting) programme at The College of The Bahamas. She says she was simply following the sage advice of her mother.
On Wednesday, May 28th, when scores of high achievers of The College's 2014 Commencement Class were honoured during a special awards ceremony, Ricara was leading the pack. She completed her programme with distinction, earning the School of Business' top awards as well as The College's two primary honours.
"I really did not expect this because I actually was working to make my term grades and get a sense of self accomplishment and do my best in every course. I never thought about awards. That was never at the forefront of my mind," she said.
"My mum would always say, you are not competing with the person sitting next to you in the classroom, you are competing against the person sitting in China, Germany, Africa, New Zealand. This is a global environment and if all you think you have to focus on is the person sitting in front of you, then you have big problems."
Ricara humbly accepted the School of Business Award, donated by Fidelity Bank and Trust, and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce Award for Academic Excellence. Many other graduands were honoured in various schools - from Mathematics, Physics and Technology to English, Education and Communication and Creative Arts - for being high achievers.

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News Article
Cuban who taught at Bahamian school killed while riding bike


Tribune Freeport Reporter

FREEPORT - A Cuban teacher who taught at a Bahamian high school was killed in a traffic accident while riding his bicycle in North Andros on the weekend.

On Saturday, the body of Alexis Loynas, who taught chemistry and physics at the North Andros High School, was flown to New Providence.

The body was received by Ministry of Education officials and representatives of the Cuban Embassy.

According to reports, Mr Loynas, 41, was involved in an accident while riding his bicycle on Queen's Highway around 9.30pm in Nicoll's Town on Friday, October 1.

Andros police responded shortly after being notified of th ...

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News Article
Union concerned about teacher shortage, dengue, state of schools

A shortage of teachers, the escalating dengue fever outbreak, and the state of some schools affected by Hurricane Irene, are some of the chief concerns that Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson expressed as public schools open across the country today.
Yesterday Wilson said the public school system is short of about 22 teachers, particularly in the areas of mathematics and other speciality subjects.
Director of Education Lionel Sands, has admitted that the department does not have a sufficient compliment of teachers to teach the subjects of maths, physics, chemistry and several other technical areas.  Sands said the ministry relies on bringing in teachers from abroad.  He added that the ministry offers grants to persons interested in studying the more technical subjects where further assistance is needed.
Meantime, Wilson is also concerned about the dengue fever outbreak.
Thousands of Bahamians have contracted the vector-borne virus over the past two months, and at least one person has died as a result of the virus.
"I want our teachers to be safe.  Since we had the dengue fever outbreak I want to urge the minister of health to ensure that all schools have been sprayed for mosquitos to assist with student safety," Wilson said.
The union president also expressed concern about the schools that will have to open late as a result of damage sustained during Hurricane Irene.  The Ministry of Education will be relocating students at several schools on Family Islands impacted by Hurricane Irene, in order to ensure they are able to attend classes when the school year begins today.  However, students who attend Arthur's Town High School and Orange Creek Primary School on Cat island, will not begin classes until September 12, according to Director of Education Lionel Sands.
Sands told The Nassau Guardian in an interview last week, that students who attend Colonel Hill High School on Crooked Island and Snug Corner Primary School on Acklins, will be relocated due to extensive damage sustained to those facilities last week.
He added that schools on Cat Island were not that badly impacted by Irene.  He added that the hurricane interrupted summer repairs, which will be completed next week.
Meantime, Wilson reminded parents and teachers whose school routes are impacted by the massive road works across the island to plan ahead.
"I'm concerned about persons getting to and from school in a timely matter.  I'm hoping that teachers, parents and administrators map out the route so they can get to school on time.  I also want administrators to be lenient with some teachers and some students who have to travel where work is being done.  We have to be aware that it may pose challenges," Wilson said.
BUT is currently in the process on negotiating a new contract with the Ministry of Education.  Wilson said so far the process is going smooth.  She expects negotiations to conclude by the end of October.

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News Article
Study keys in on causes of crime

A new scientific study by a College of The Bahamas researcher has concluded what may come as no surprise to policymakers: Increases in population lead to increased crime while increases in gross domestic product (GDP) lead to decreased crime.
"If you know what your population growth is going to be, the government would have to increase GDP by a certain amount to keep the crime rate at wherever their quota is," said Dr. Yan Lyansky, an assistant professor in the School of Mathematics, Physics and Technology.
Lyansky has come up with a mathematical formula, which he said could accurately predict what the rate of crime would be at any given point in the future based on the population of The Bahamas and the size of its economy.
"Everybody is worried about crime, but according to the numbers it doesn't look different historically from what's been going on a very, very long time ago," he said.
"What I mean is when you talk about population growth, you're going to naturally get more crime and everything looks consistent.
"It looks like maybe in more recent history there is little more of a spike but there's not enough data for that to analyze."
The paper is one of the studies that will be presented at COB's 2011 Violence Research Symposium on November 3.
The goal of the research conducted by Lyansky is to find the best predictors of violent crime in The Bahamas.
"We assume that the government will be able to change policy to lower the crime rate if it knows the determining factors that influence crime," said the study's abstract.
The paper notes that crime has been an escalating problem in the Caribbean.  In The Bahamas, the general public perceives that crime is out of control, it adds.
The paper also says, "The police commissioner is under pressure to find a solution to the problem."
The study says that as the population increases, the government may need to invest an even greater proportion of its resources in dealing with crime as the number of crimes increase.
It adds, "Government policies should be designed to increase the prosperity of the nation, but what this data shows is that when the country can not position itself to compete or can not cope with external shocks, then crime would be expected to rise."
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, Lyansky said, "We can predict exactly where the crime rate's going to be moving forward, given the fact that it has been very accurate in the past."
He said that many people who speak about crime and the causes of crime -- including some authorities -- do not speak from a factual position.
"A lot of the things that are written about crime, that I've read, and the explanations that I've heard make me shake my head.  They're not going to help advance a solution," Lyansky said.
As an example, he said, "The police commissioner, he was close to my house one day giving a talk and his explanation was that it's all based on drugs and you know, that's a bunch of nonsense and the reason it's nonsense is I would actually have liked to make a correlation between the two, however, there is no data on drugs, drug usage or anything here so to make a blanket statement like that, it's just a statement.
"You're not actually going to be making progress from [those kinds of statements]."
Lyansky said there are so many inconsistencies in explanations some people provide regarding the causes of crime that it's impossible to make any scientific determinations about them.
Speaking of the importance of scientific research, he said, "It gives you a better predictor moving forward.
"...If you need GDP to increase and you know the population's going up, you need to do this to GDP and hence that would be a basic way (to fight crime)."

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News Article
E- and D 'national concern'

Tribune Staff Reporter

STUDENTS sitting mathematics and English courses in this year's Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education exams (BGCSE) received average grades of E- and D respectively.
Still, mathematics and English are part of 16 subjects that showed some improvement in grade point averages compared to last year, including art and design A, art and design B, art and design C, biology, bookkeeping and accounts, chemistry, economics, food and nutrition, French, graphical communication, literature, office procedures, physics and religious studies.

The mathematics and English test scores reflect an issue of "nat ...

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News Article
Bannister: Unqualified teachers in crucial subjects plague education system

The country's education system is grappling with a lack of Bahamian instructors qualified to teach in "critical" subjects like Math, English and sciences, former Minister of Education Desmond Bannister said yesterday.
Bannister added that the government school system is entrenched in bureaucracy making it difficult for officials to remove a few unqualified instructors from the system.
The senator's comments came a day after the Ministry of Education released the results of the 2012 Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) and Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) exams.
According to a report prepared by the Ministry of Education on the BGCSE results, students sitting the exams received an average letter grade of D in English Language and E+ in Mathematics. The two subjects were among 19 that saw an improvement in results from last year.
Bannister said in spite of the average scores for Math and English, BGCSE results have improved year-over-year for the past three years. Still, he conceded that the results show that students are struggling with core areas like numeracy and literacy.
He said while there is a shortage of Bahamian teachers qualified to teach subjects like Math, English and the sciences, there is a disproportionate number of teachers specializing in general or religious studies.
"We have many outstanding teachers, but we also have to get more teachers into disciplines that are important," he said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.
He recalled that in 2010 out of the graduates from The College of The Bahamas' teaching program only two specialized in English, seven in math and five in Biology.
He said there were none in Chemistry, none in Physics and 40 in primary school education.
"I looked at the trend for five years; you had more in primary education and more in religious education," Bannister said. "In all these critical areas where you really needed teachers to develop students you weren't getting them."
He said the numbers prompted the ministry to change its policy on grants for students entering teaching programs so that there was more incentive for aspiring teachers to specialize in areas like Math and English.
He added that during his time in office the ministry was also forced to hire a number of foreign teachers to fill the gaps.
Bannister said the public school system needs to adapt to changes in the educational field, but added that it is difficult for ministry officials to remove unsatisfactory teachers from the practice.
"But you can't fire teachers in The Bahamas," he said. "For example, I've gone into classrooms, I've visited every school in the country except for two, where I've seen -- and this is on very few occasions -- but I've seen some incompetent teachers.
"You can't fire them because you have unions and you have agreements and there are ways that things have to be done.
"You have any number of other issues that have to be dealt with but you have a bureaucracy called the Ministry of Education and a Department of Education..."
On Tuesday, Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald said that nearly 50 percent of high school seniors do not meet requirements to graduate with diplomas. Instead, they are given leaving certificates that only show they attended the school.
When asked what could be a reason for this, Bannister said that for decades the officials in the public school system have not been able to address the problems it faces.
"Over the last 40 years or so we basically had a lot of mediocrity in education in The Bahamas and we've paid a lot of lip service to education rather than trying to look at the real problems that impact our schools, and so we've become a lot like big cities in the United States where you have 40 or 50 percent of our children in our big inner city schools graduating and 50 percent not graduating," he said.
"You'll find that's different in the Family Islands, it's different in the smaller schools but when you look at the inner city schools that is the problem and you'll find that examination results are very poor."
Bannister said other problems government schools face include having to educate students with behavioral problems who may have been expelled from private institutions; students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds and thousands of students who have undiagnosed learning disabilities.

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News Article
Dismal exam scores continue

Students sitting the 2012 Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGSCE) exams received an average letter grade of D in English Language and E+ in Mathematics, according to data from the Ministry of Education.
However, the two subjects are among 19 that saw an improvement compared to results from last year, a report prepared on the 2012 BGCSE results noted.
In 2011, the mean grade for Mathematics was an E- and a D for English Language, which did not see a letter grade improvement this year but had a GPA increase, the data showed.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald said in spite of the increase in certain areas, his ministry is unhappy with the scores, which he said showed students' weakness in math and reading skills.
"As in the case with the BJC results, an improvement is noted in the overall performance of schools throughout the country," he said at a press conference at the Ministry of Education. "But while there has been improvement, we at the ministry are not satisfied that our graduates as a whole are sufficiently equipped or prepared for the 21st century workforce.
"Therefore, we still have a lot of work to do and a very long way to go. We accept that reading, grammar and mathematics are weak and we know that we have to create a stronger foundation."
To help bolster students' performance in those areas, in September the Ministry of Education plans to double reading periods for students in grades 1 to 3 and increase math periods by almost 50 percent, Fitzgerald said.
Eleven subjects saw an increase in letter grades this year when compared to 2011: Art and Design B, rose to B- from C; Bookkeeping/Accounts rose to D from D-; Clothing Construction rose to D+ from D; Combined Science rose to C- from D+; Commerce rose to D+ from D; Economics rose to D+ from D; Electrical Installation rose to D+ from D-; Graphical Communication rose to C from C-; Music rose to C from C-; Office Procedures rose to C- from D and, as noted, math rose to E+ from E-.
Eight subjects showed an improvement in grade point average (GPA) this year when compared to last year: Art and Design C; Auto Mechanics; English Language; French; Geography; History; Physics and Spanish.
Six subjects saw a decline in performance this year compared to 2011: Art and Design A; Biology; Chemistry; Food and Nutrition; Carpentry and Joinery and Religious Studies.
The performance in two subjects, Literature and Keyboarding, remained unchanged at C- and D+ respectively.
According to the data, the highest percentage of grades awarded -- 26 percent -- was a C.
The results show that 947 students received a C or above in five or more subjects compared to 937 students who scored similarly in 2011, representing a 1.07 increase.
This year, 1,594 candidates got a minimum grade of D in at least five subjects, representing a 2.54 percent increase from the 1,554 candidates who scored similarly in 2011, accordance to the report.
The report said that 7,117 students from 100 centers registered to sit the exam. This represents a 2.87 percentage decrease from 2011 when 7,327 candidates from 101 centers registered to take the exams.
This year, the Ministry of Education offered 27 subjects; however, the average number of subjects each student took was five.
Fitzgerald also revealed scores for the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) exams.
Of the 10 BJC subjects offered, six showed an improvement in grade point averages: Craft Study; English Language; Mathematics; Religious Studies; Health Science and Social Studies.
Four subjects saw a decline this year: Art; General Science; Family and Consumer Science and Technical Drawing.
The ministry's report said that 9,009 candidates from 23 centers were registered to take the BJC exams.
The national examinations are graded on a seven point scale A - G. Letters A, B, and C are considered above average; D is average while E, F, and G are below average.

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