Hotel rooms are expected to exceed 4,000 room nights next summer when more than 1,000 foreign delegates flock the capital to attend a high level education conference.
According to Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald, the spinoff benefits of hosting the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) will be equally significant.
The government has allocated $2 million to underwrite the cost of hosting the five-day meeting that will bring together education heads from the Commonwealth’s 54-member states to discuss best practices in education and develop a clear mandate on the way forward.
The high level meeting, scheduled to take place June 22 to June 26 at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, will be held under the theme “Quality Education For Equitable Development: Performance, Paths and Productivity.”
“The three Ps build on the recommendations of the Commonwealth Ministerial Working Group. It will provide opportunities for ministers, senior education officials and other stakeholders in education to deliberate on the priorities and emerging issues identified by the group. As these continue to be reflected in the evolving working framework for development and the economic and social advancement and growth of member states and their citizens,” Minister Fitzgerald explained.
The conference is also expected to promote goodwill and foster mutual respect and cooperation between delegates and member states.
“The specific objectives of the five-day meetings are to increase the understanding of Commonwealth ministers and senior officials of critical issues in education, to provide a forum for discussion of these issues and the sharing of good practices within the Commonwealth, to examine barriers to equity, access and quality education and identify key enabling factors to address these issues, gain the commitment of ministers to specific actions identified at the conference, discuss the process for aligning plans and strategies to support the achievement of the new goals and targets of the post 2015 education development framework and to discuss and agree on the steps to take forth any new mandates and actions on global issues,” the minister added.
In addition to the principle meeting, a number of other meetings will be held bringing together senior officials, teachers, youth and stakeholders.
According to the minister, the plan is to also add two new features to the CCEM, namely the regional ministerial caucus, which would offer the opportunity to address the need to create a balance between politics and policies as well as a small states meeting.
“Ministers of education from the 31 small states in the Commonwealth will be permitted to discuss critical and problematic issues affecting their countries.
This is the first time The Bahamas will host the historic CCEM, and only the third time it will be hosted in the Caribbean.
As the host country, the education minister will serve as the conference’s organisational chairman.
Second only in importance, scope and numbers to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM), the upcoming conference comes at a time when there are reportedly 61 million primary school aged children, 23 million of whom live in the Commonwealth.
“Although June 2015 may seem a long way off, when consideration is given to the size and importance of this meeting, 14 months will fly by rather quickly; therefore, I call on all involved in the planning to demonstrate commitment, teamwork and give focused attention to ensuring that this conference is a great success,” Minister Fitzgerald said.
“I also call on corporate Bahamas and the wider community to support our efforts in any and every way possible including becoming informed about the conference and displaying our friendly and helpful attitudes towards our guests during their stay…We are certain the conference will achieve our objectives and garner the respect of the Commonwealth for our educational system, our hospitality industry and our people.”