Categorized | National News

Minister Responds to Black Friday Organizers

Minister of Education Science and Technology, Jerome Fitzgerald has responded to a letter drafted by the organizers of the “Black Friday We March,” which was addressed to the Office of the Prime minister on November 22.

In a press statement, Minister Fitzgerald noted that he needed to set the record straight regarding two of the demands addressed in the letter.

He noted that the two points that the organizers have demanded are related to his portfolio, specifically the educational system and the Freedom of Information Act.

“I have had the opportunity to review the contents of that letter and I note with interest two points that are directly related to my ministerial portfolio that I would like to bring clarity to,” Mr. Fitzgerald stated.

The minister responded to the call by the group for education reform, by noting his surprise to the demand as he stated that the ministry of education has been in the process of reforming the educational system for the last four plus years.

“The request for reform of our educational system is rather surprising as over the past four and a half years that has been happening in a way that is unprecedented in the past 20 to 30 years in our country.

“More than two years ago, the National Education Committee was formed with the sole purpose of creating a bi-partisan policy for education,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

He noted that the committee was made up of former ministers of Education, including Dr. Bernard Nottage, Carl Bethel, and Alfred Sears; as well as members of the opposition, Hubert Chipman, Branville McCartney, leader of the Democratic National Alliance and a cross section of education stakeholders.

Mr. Fitzgerald also noted that education has had many major accomplishments, implementing policies and projects preparing students for the future.

He noted specifically that the Ministry of Education has more than doubled its investment in scholarships from $7.75 million to $16.2 million.

With regard to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Mr. Fitzgerald stated that he sent out a press statement to the public about three weeks ago, noting that it is his intent to table the Bill in the House of Assembly by year end.

“I wish the record to reflect that we will ensure that Bahamians are provided with their fundamental human rights of a strong Freedom of Information Act; and as was stated about three weeks ago, in a press statement to the public, I intend to table the Bill in the House of Assembly before the end of 2016.

“Furthermore, the recommendations submitted by local civil organizations will be taken into consideration,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

The education minister noted that recommendations that were submitted were reviewed and considered.

“I wish to reassure the public that every effort has been taken to ensure that the proposed Freedom of Information Act is thorough and comprehensive from the onset,” Mr. Fitzgerald stated.

“Unequivocally, over the past four and a half years, I have worked closely with the officials at the Ministry of Education, civil society, community stakeholders and indeed the official Opposition with the sole purpose of empowering, protecting and enriching the lives of Bahamians, particularly Bahamian students. My record in this regard is clear,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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