Even though there are hundreds of Bahamian teachers in the public school system, there is still a need for more of them to become specialised teachers.
According to the Director of Education Lionel Sands, the ministry has to continue recruiting outside of the country for specialist teachers because there are not enough Bahamian specialist teachers, which costs the government a substantial amount of money.
“The challenge we have is that we are not producing enough local teachers in the critical specialised areas such as the sciences like physics and chemistry and other subjects like math, English and some other technical subjects,” he told the Bahama Journal recently.
“In these areas, we have to recruit or look to people to apply to come into our education system. What the ministry is seeking to do is to encourage Bahamian students going into the College of The Bahamas (COB) to become teachers to pursue the courses in those critical areas. We will also provide a scholarship to encourage teachers to go into those disciplines and that will probably help us to develop our Bahamian teachers rather than have to recruit heavily outside.”
Mr. Sands said teachers have been recruited from Canada, Mexico, Jamaica and other countries to assist other teachers in the upcoming 2012/2013 school year.
Recruiting teachers from outside the country, he said, costs the ministry “millions of dollars.”
The education director also explained that not many COB students are pursuing specialised education.
“At the college, we had 121 [students] that graduated this year,” Mr. Sands said.
“Most of them are general education teachers or teachers for religious studies, health and family life and business studies and not the specialised teachers that we need urgently. The need for those technical teachers is very great in terms of the high school and primary schools so we will have to continue recruiting outside the country until we bring our numbers up to the level we need to.”
But, the education director also explained that the need will continue for the general education teachers considering that more students continue to come into the public education system.
There are currently 53,000 students enrolled in public schools throughout the country and that number is expected to increase in September, adding to overcrowding in the public sector which has been a problem for many years.
Mr. Sands told the Journal that he expects the overall student population to increase to 55,000 for the new school year.
“We have a number of private schools that have been adversely affected economically so students are continuing to come over,” he said.
“There are about two private schools closing that we know of and these children will be coming to us. The enrollment in our schools is increasing throughout the country and more particularly in the south-west and south-east New Providence. Right now, we have an additional 400 students who we need to place in schools. That essentially is an entire school and that’s a challenge we are faced with.”