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News Article
A young man who has his 'head on right'

At first glance, he seems to be like just any other young man his age with the usual air of confidence and a seeming nonchalant attitude, but if you take a closer look and get to know him better, you realize that 15-year-old Brennan Williams is much more than meets the eye. He's smart and he has a passion for saving animals -- particularly cats.
Williams, a ninth-grade student at North Eleuthera High School, was recently recognized at the Ministry of Education's 19th annual national award presentation as co-winner of the best results for the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) examinations in the government schools, and the male with the best overall BJC results in government schools.
He believes that if young men live in the shadow that society casts upon them, they will never live up to their potential. And he worked hard to prove that he is capable, earning seven A grades in General Science, Health Science, Mathematics, Technical Drawing, Family and Consumer Sciences, Social Studies and Religious Knowledge and a B grade in English Language.
"When I started grade nine I said to myself that I really wanted to do the best in my school when I took the BJCs," he said. "I even thought it would be great to do the best on my island but I didn't imagine that I would get the overall best results in the country for a government school or even a male. It was amazing when I did all of that. To me this proves that nothing is impossible once you are willing to work hard for it."
The honor roll student, who has a grade point average (GPA) of 3.44, has always set the bar high for himself and is glad when he achieves far beyond his expectatons. Due to his determination to outdo himself he does not let the views of society hinder his dreams or dicatate what he can or cannot do. He truly believes nothing is impossible.
Although he has a lot of ambition, he gives credit for his success to his family who he says has always supported him in excelling in everything that he sets his mind to.
His mother, Thakurdaye Williams, a primary school teacher, constantly encourages him to work harder in his weakest subject, English. His father, Brian Williams, an agriculture teacher at his school, helps him with his math and sciences. But he says his greatest motivator was his elder sister Brianne, who never let him take no for an answer and was always interested in her education and discovering new things. He says it was her who pushed him to be the same way too.
"I guess since my parents are teachers and my sister was really smart, great things are expected of me as well. For some this may seem like a lot of pressure but it's a good motivation for me to keep doing better and better," he said. "My sister really pushed me the hardest sometimes. She was a really good student and could explain anything to me. She was valedictorian of our school last school year, and seeing how well she did always encourages me."
Williams adheres to a strict study schedule. He hits the books for at least two hours after school on subjects that are easiest for him. He spends an additional hour on the subject he has the most difficulty with -- English. And the study method that he has found that works best for him is to rewrite all of his notes and repeat what he understands to himself. It's a method he doesn't always stick to as he switches things up so that his study habits don't become monotonous. He sometimes makes up questions to himself so that he can think of all the answers, which he said he's found to be a good way to prepare for exams.
Tutoring students who don't understand something the way he does also helps. He said he's found that it's a good way to ensure that he understands the subject too. But he always prefers a quiet area when he's studying.
Now a tenth-grade student, Williams says it was nice to be recognized for his work during the national awards presentation, but he says that is behind him and his focus in on the future. He aspires to become an aeronautical engineer. Passionate about the field, he has chosen a course of study towards that end, taking optional courses in physics, chemistry and graphical communication.
Williams has not started looking at colleges as yet, but he is doing everything he can to ensure that he's a good candidate for any school he applies to.
But brains aren't everything to the teenager, he also has a passion for animals. When he isn't studying or trying to escape to the beach for a quick swim, his hands are full taking care of the cats in his settlement. He was appalled that people did not take care of their animals, and remembers sneaking strays home to feed and take care of them. He never thought about keeping the animals and always set them free once they were better.
"It really hurts me to see animals not being taken care of properly. I think everyone has a role in helping the animals that live around them," he says."Some of them [animals] just need homes and can be really loyal if you take care of them. I don't like to see them being kicked or abused and I think we all can do something about it."
The tenth-grade student believes it's important for young people to find things they like to do, so that they can develop their personality and discover their strengths. While he does not participate in a lot of extracurricular activities at his school, he makes an effort to participate on the track team.
And he does not feel disadvantaged attending a Family Island school. He says he may not have as many options in classes or after-school activities as students at schools in the capital, but he says he has peace and quiet and that he appreciates every class he does have.
"Students should appreciate every small blessing they have when it comes to their education. Make the best of whatever you have and remember that studying is important, but doing other things in your community or around your school is just as good. Caring about what's going on around you or doing things to develop yourself outside of your school work helps to make you a better person I believe."
Williams encourages students -  particularly young men - to find their niche when it comes to their school work and communities. He said not everyone will be strong in the same areas, nor will they be able to study or enjoy things in the same way. He hopes that in the future he can hear more good news about young men excelling in society instead of hearing about fighting and violence.
To contribute to his dream for young men, Williams is aspiring to continue to excel in his school work by first conquering English and finally earning an A grade.  He hopes to achieve a 4.0 GPA before his high school years end and he also dreams of returning as an awardee in the national awards ceremony for his Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education exam results. He says there is nothing a person can't do if they put their mind to it. And while he dreams big he hopes other young men join him and dream even bigger.

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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
Young men top Temple Christian School's 2014 graduating class

Temple Christian School's 2014 graduating class was reminded that to succeed, they would need to have a sense of personal direction.
"In order to have the results you desire in the future, you must commit yourselves to embracing the necessary attributes and skills that will keep you engaged like the magnetized needle in a compass that automatically swings to magnetic north," said Marcellus Taylor, the Ministry of Education's deputy director with responsibility for planning and development.
His words to the graduating student body came as the top awards given out during the ceremony were snagged by three young men -- Daniel Jagessar, Terrance Arnold and Cameron Johnson.
Jagessar, the head boy was named class Valedictorian and received the Principal's Award. He took home top awards for mathematics, English Language, physics, biology, chemistry, religious studies and Spanish and the second place prize for Graphical Communication. He also received the Most Outstanding Student Award for mathematics, the BTC General Manager's Award and a four-year scholarship from BEC to attend The College of The Bahamas because of his participation in the Technical Cadet Corps Programme.
Arnold, the deputy head boy captured the Salutatorian Award. He received first place prizes for graphical communication and physical education and second place prizes for mathematics and physics. He was also given the Spirit Award for his participation in soccer and track and field. Johnson graduated in third place. He obtained first place prizes in Literature and Art and Design and the second place prize for English Language. He received honorable mention from Savannah College of Art and Design for his comic book entered in the college's art competition.
Taylor told the graduates that employers are looking for candidates who stand out from the crowd and who are qualified for the job.
"Your compass for the future should point you in the direction of acquiring the college degree, and or training, that you will need to secure the career that you desire," he said. He also reminded the members of the graduating class that employers want to hire people who possess good work ethics and that punctuality, high attendance and good moral character are among the top criteria that capture the attention of employers.
Taylor further told the graduates that employers were interested in team players who exhibit flexibility and adaptability. He told the students to allow their compass for the future to point them in the direction to evolve into lifelong learners. He encouraged the graduates to commit to a future of following a compass that will guide them to ultimate satisfaction, which involves positive accomplishments.

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News Article
Outstanding leadership and academic achievement celebrated

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) program at The College of The Bahamas (COB). She said she was simply following the sage advice of her mother.
On Wednesday, May 28, when scores of high achievers of the college's 2014 commencement class were honored during a special awards ceremony, Ricara was leading the pack. She completed her program with distinction, earning the School of Business' top awards as well as the college's two primary honors.
"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 honored in various schools - from mathematics, physics and technology to English, education and communication and creative arts - for being high achievers.
Acting President of COB Dr. Earla Carey-Baines commended them for their perseverance.
"In the academic arena, they had set themselves apart as scholars and leaders worthy of accolades and emulation. We salute all of our award recipients, as these past years have not been easy ones. The achievement of a college degree is fraught with many tests and challenges. To succeed in college requires commitment, perseverance and sacrifice. You sit before us, not only because you have succeeded, but because you have excelled."
Randol Dorsett is a partner at law firm Graham Thompson and chairman of the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority. In 2001 when he graduated from COB he was recognized for his scholastic aptitude. He returned to his alma mater to deliver the keynote address to the honorees, urging the males among them to be leaders in every facet of society.
"We need more men of excellence now more than ever. We need role models for our sons. Our young Bahamian sons must look up to you for guidance. They must emulate your quest for excellence and model themselves accordingly," he said. "When they are faced with the decision to follow the man who leads the gang on the corner and the student who attends COB, they must come to the realization that to be a man is to know responsibility, to take care of one's self and to take care of one's home. To be a man is to be faithful to one's family, to be a man is to be a leader with a burning desire always to better one's self."
He also challenged the college to be the leading voice in The Bahamas and to help solve the issues this country faces.
"The college and its academics must be the voice of reason in the midst of all the idle talk. When we consider national development plans, issues of taxation, the rights of citizens, issues relating to the environment, these are all issues [in which] the college must have a leading voice. The college must undertake and produce the research which must underpin the public debate," he added.
In all, almost 70 graduating students were honored for their academic excellence and leadership. Among them was Ashley Knowles, who earned an associate of arts degree in music and is a member of The College of The Bahamas Concert Choir. He has travelled the world performing under the leadership of his mentor and choir director Audrey Dean-Wright. Most recently, the college's choir performed at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. He enthusiastically expressed his appreciation for her musical guidance.
"I have been prepared so well, it is like you are almost indebted because you cannot repay [Mrs. Dean-Wright], or the music department, or the college for all I have learned in such a short time. When I travel internationally, people are surprised that I am only a second-year student completing an associate degree. They are so pleased to see that this type of training is happening here in The Bahamas," he said.
At the awards ceremony, Dr. Eslyn Jones, vice -president of student affairs, presented a special award to Dean-Wright, an associate professor at the college, for her longstanding commitment to music and education at the institution.
"For over 18 years, this young lady has been training our students and giving us beautiful music at all our ceremonies and services. We thought it fitting to honor her today. This plaque is a small token of our appreciation for the hard work that she has done over the years," she said.
The college's 2014 commencement activities happened under the theme: "A legacy of leadership: Forty years of educating the nation".

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News Article
St. George's senior students visit Pine Ridge Landfill

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- Last week 27 St. George's senior high school students (BGCSE and AP Sciences) of the Academic Sciences Department participated in the field excursion to the Sanitation Services Landfill along with Ms. Simms and Mr. Thurston, Chemistry and Physics Teachers at the school.  
The student trip is in keeping with the school's and the Ministry of Education's overall goals of affording students varied academic viewpoints of the "real" world. This trip focused on the environmental sciences and protection concerns for our natural environment as an area of research and focus.
The tour of the Pine Ridge Landfill site, owned and operated by Sanitation Services, targeted the science department's goals and objectives to explore landfill management and operations, environmental protection, including nuisance odours incidents handling issues and protocols.
Pictured at the tour are the St. George's students, teachers and Jason Albury, Sanitation Services Landfill Manager. (Photo courtesy of Jolissa Rolle for Barefoot Marketing)

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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
Cuban who taught at Bahamian school killed while riding bike

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

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
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
Virclom offers sound solution

As the government considers which company will install CCTV cameras throughout New Providence, two young Bahamians in the U.S. are urging officials to drop what they are doing, and think again.
Shawn Barker, 35, and Depree Smith, 30, the CEOs of Virclom Technologies, have recently partnered with a major U.S. company to sell, install and distribute a cutting-edge gun shot and explosive detection system that could complement the CCTV cameras, or even make them obsolete.
The system, first used by the U.S. military, is already being used in downtown Los Angeles and New Orleans, and involves state-of-the-art cameras capable of picking up specific sound-waves.
When a gun is fired, the system zeroes in on the source, records it and sends the exact GPS location to a command center.
"This technology is superior to what they are implementing," Barker said, who holds a Master's degree in physics.
"We [The Bahamas] have a big problem with crime and we need this technology to capture these actions.  We need to do something for The Bahamas."
Safety Dynamics, the U.S. company that has partnered with Virclom, has also sold the technology to the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco.
Barker is keen on the widespread "commercialization" of these systems to improve public safety.
One of the benefits of the system, Barker added, is the cameras are portable, and can be moved around during special events.
Last month, Guardian Business reported that the Bahamas Hotel Association and the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) are ramping up security in tourist areas by investing $7 million in a CCTV network.
Quinn McCartney, the Deputy Commissioner of the RBPF, passed on his department's recommendations to the government regarding who should be awarded the contract.
The matter still rests with the government for final approval, he said.
McCartney told Guardian Business that he is aware of this other form of technology, and believes it could be very effective in The Bahamas as a law enforcement tool.
His only concern is the price tag.
"We looked at that technology, and it appears to be something we could make use of," he said.  "I think the cost is an issue, and at the time, it was not deemed to be a priority, so we went with the CCTV cameras."
The RBPF would consider using the technology in the future, he said.
Speaking from California, Barker pointed out that the gun shot and explosive detection system does not necessarily have to replace the CCTV cameras.
Instead, it can supplement and be added on to the system for more safety and support.
Meanwhile, the price of the new technology may not be as expensive as some might think.
"There are a variety of different packages, but this unit, including a command center, computers, servers, a camera and all the technology you need, would cost in the neighborhood of $35,000," Barker told Guardian Business.
"Each additional camera would cost about $5,000 to $10,000."
Considering the current initiative for CCTV cameras is in the range of $7 million, his Bahamian firm can likely deliver at a reasonable price, he said.
Smith, Barker's partner at Virclom Technologies, said they first met at Oklahoma University, and with a Master's in marketing, he tries to promote the system throughout North America on behalf of Safety Dynamics.
In addition to working with Los Angeles and New Orleans, he is currently in talks, along with Safety Dynamics, to introduce this technology to the National Football League and Major League Baseball, as stadium and franchise owners have struggled with crime in recent years and seek a way of keeping the fans safe during and after games.
But while these projects are exciting, he is far more passionate about educating officials about its uses back home.
"The Bahamas is the pinnacle of where we want this technology to be implemented," he explained.
"It is our first and primary focus.  We need the government and tourism sector to realize this technology can be great for the country.  It can stop the trend we're seeing with crime.  In the tourism sector, it'll show that The Bahamas is being proactive in seeking new crime-fighting technology."

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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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