The government is hiring over 80 specialist teachers this year to work in the public school system.
According to Director of Education Lionel Sands, many of the teachers are coming from Cuba.
Education officials have long bemoaned the lack of specialist teachers in The Bahamas.
“We are hiring 82 new teachers and the total amount of teachers coming on in the new school year is 167,” he said.
“They are in different disciplines like the applied sciences like science, math, the modern languages and also physics and chemistry. These are the areas where we need teachers to come in because we are not producing enough of these teachers at the College of The Bahamas, so we have to recruit them from outside of The Bahamas,” he said.
“Several of them are coming in from Cuba and many of them are special education teachers and they will be able to deal with our students who have special disabilities.”
The special education teachers will be placed in schools like Stapledon Gardens for the Mentally Retarded, Garvin Tynes Primary and Anatol Rodgers High School among others.
“These are the schools where we have autistic children and those teachers do extremely well with them and we need teachers like that,” Mr. Sands said.
The director said education officials are working with the College of The Bahamas in an effort to train more specialist teachers.
“We want to try and design a programme for special education teachers,” Mr. Sands said.
“Generally, the college has a programme for generalist teachers and a programme for math and English teachers. Unfortunately, not a lot of our Bahamian teachers elect to go and do these special courses and the graduation rate for a math, science or special education teachers is very, very low in The Bahamas. And so we are trying to encourage teachers to go in and pursue those courses.”
He continued, “There is a guarantee that if you go into the College of The Bahamas to meet needs, when you come out you would be hired. But there is no guarantee that when you go in and pursue a course that is not really a need for the ministry that you will be hired.”
Mr. Sands said that not only is there a demand for specialist teachers at home, but all over the world.
“There is a dearth of specialist teachers throughout the world and you have all the world’s communities converging in one place to try to get the few teachers that we have and The Bahamas is one place that goes in and competes for these specialist teachers and so that is a challenge that we have also.”