By: Keile Campbell
It was denied that Cuban teachers brought in to assist with the country’s education system are
unable to speak English, according to Minister of Education Technical and Vocational
Training Glenys Hanna-Martin who responded when asked concerning The Bahamas Union
of Teacher (BUT) President Belinda Wilson imploring the ministry to investigate the matter.
Minister Hanna-Martin explained that the relationship between Cuba and The Bahamas with
regards to teacher exchange goes back two decades and that there is an initial learning
She said, “What I’ve been advised is that in each new school year, there is an adjustment
period on both sides that allows for an accommodation in terms of communications. The
Cuban teachers from what I’ve been advised, have provided an invaluable input to education
and in fact, in this year they’ve allowed us to extend access to special education for children
who have been falling between the cracks and we are now able to put teachers on islands that
were never heretofore serviced with special ed teachers.
“The other area that they’ve brought to the table is Technical and Vocational; so for example
we have a technical vocational teacher in Acklins and they have not seen that for a little
while. It is the same throughout the country,” Minister Hanna-Martin explained.
She said the ministry is confident that any potential language barrier with regards to nuances
in language and accents will not be a continued issue and if it is as such then “we will do
what we have to do,” she said.
The education minister went on to express her gratitude to the Republic of Cuba in assisting
to meet the deficits suffered in the education system.
“Teachers shortage is a global crisis,” she said. “In fact, this year world Teachers Day is
concentrating on that, it’s not just The Bahamas, and we are grateful that our neighbors, our
sister state has seen it fit – and I’m sure they face their challenges too; but this has been
consistent with their outreaches over the years in health care and education that they have
agreed to assist us,” Said Minister Hanna-Martin.
Continuing she said, “I think the parents understand the issue in these schools that we work
with these scenarios to ensure that our children are able to have access to education that
would not otherwise be available, because we don’t have it available in The Bahamas. So
special education technical and vocational, these are these are the specialties these teachers
She explained the vetting and selection process for teachers, mentioning that there was no
translator present when the teachers appeared before the panel that selected them.
According to Minister Hanna-Martin the interviews were done in English, they also took
written exams and the panel included representatives from the Ministry of Education, the
Ministry of the Public Service, the Public Service Commission, The Bahamas Educational &
Counsellors Allied Workers Union (BECU) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Minister Hanna-Martin said, “They were all on this travel, and if despite our best efforts there
are issues, we work to iron them out. We want it to work, we don’t want our efforts for our
children not to work, and so all stakeholders I invite to come on board and cooperate in the
interests of the children of this nation.”
When asked whether the BUT has been updated concerning the handling of the matter,
Minister Hanna-Martin said at the time she believes the BUT President and the Acting
Director of Education had a dialogue.