14 June, 2007

Education Standards

The Role of an Education Minister. It is probably very unfair. But, education in Anguilla is a very sensitive subject. People express extreme views when they write me on the topic. An increasing number of parents are taking their children out of the system and sending them overseas. Every time someone sends me anything about our Minister’s performance, it is negative. I do not know why. Whenever I have talked to Neil Rogers he has always come across as a very sincere and committed Minister. He seems to work fulltime and overtime at his Ministry. Why then do I get letters like this?

In the Cayman Islands there is an enlightened education programme. The new Minister of Education has introduced a change of governance model. He has brought in a new national curriculum. He has made interventions with regard to special education needs. He has dealt forcefully with literacy issues. He has introduced improvements in teachers’ conditions of service. Cayman's Legislative Assembly is considering the minister’s proposals to invest $150 million in education in the coming years, and last week approved $35 million for capital projects in the Ministry of Education over the next year. You can read all about it here.

By comparison, what we have in Anguilla is “community effort”. There was in the year 2005 a desperate self-help attempt to improve the appalling standards in the Stoney Ground Primary School. The teachers are underpaid, numbers of them do not turn up to work on time, the buildings are falling apart, the curriculum is out of date, discipline is out of the window, and the Minister appears to have no new ideas. You can read all about the self-help project here.

This project was never finished. The Minister took it over and then seems to have lost all interest in it. As we see in this article, there was a plan to extend this school grounds beautification programme to all the other schools. As far as I'm aware, it is dead, along with any pretence that our Minister of Sports has the slightest interest in the education of anyone other than his own children in America.

If, as I suspect, this story is completely unfair to our Minister, will someone in the know please tell us what we are doing with education in Anguilla?


  1. Today, the education cart is trying, unsuccessfully, to draw the horse. But this is mere trivia compared to where we're heading. In 8 years, if Bunton, Victor, Kenneth and Belto have retired, the tail will wag the dog and Neil will be our Maximum Leader.

    Believeth ye not? Unless there is some disaster and our economy fails, the United Front will continue to receive decisive victories at the polls. Who will be left with any experience to be Chief Minister? You don't think Neil is suitable? Who would you rather have? Curtis Richardson, for God's sake? Keesha Webster? The dog fight promoter? The destruction of our education system is just a bump in the road. We are headed for serious disaster.

  2. Your illustration with this article is both funny and sad.
    So, I think, is your question:'...will someone in the know please tell us what we are doing with education in Anguilla?' I suspect not many people can reply because (1)they are not 'in the know' or (2) they are, but the Minister is their boss. I am one of those many people and I would like to comment. Please advise.

  3. The big developers get dutiefree consessions from government.
    Teachers sent them beg-letters for PC's and other learning tools.
    I don't get it.

  4. My child is going to primary school in September. Where do I sent him? Valley or Stoney Ground?
    Grafity or Garbage? He wants to be an artist so I guess it'll be Valley. Oh, the sadness of it all.

  5. "Neil Rogers seems to work fulltime and overtime at his Ministry." Oh really? Anyone in Education seconds that?
    When was his last press release?
    What did he contribute to the last House of Assembly?
    He's working full time and overtime? On WHAT?

  6. Ah, first poster, look again, it's not a horse. Hint: check the size of the ears.

  7. I don't understand what the poster is saying or asking in the second comment. If he or she wants to comment, what is the problem?

  8. The primary responsibility of the Education Minister is not to be an expert in education administration but to support the administrative experts we already have in place. It's clear they need more funding and are not getting it. It is a Minister's job to get funding for his Ministry. If he doesn't show up for work, and Kenneth is always crying for more money for roads, is it any wonder we have great new roads and underpaid teachers?

    The Minister of Inaction doesn't have to be afraid of failure -- that's what we've already got.

  9. Is it true that government paid for Neil Rogers' education, and he never fulfilled the requirements of his bond?

  10. On 19 June 2004, before his election, Neil said on KOOL-FM that he wanted to "change some of the archaic practices and principles in our education system." I know he's been real busy with the World Cup and all, but when is he going to start doing what he said he wanted to do?

  11. "He's not doing the job he was elected to do.
    He's not a leader, he's a follower. And he's not competent."

    --Yanchie Richardson, KOOL-FM, 24 December 2005

  12. Neil spent years working the AXA health system. Yes, the government paid for his diploma but when he requested study leave without pay to pursue higher education, the government said no. So he went to study anyway with the full realisation that he will return back to AXA someday.

    Unlike those who never return, I am happy he came back even if it is 10 years later. I do believe he had to pay back something but I'm not sure how much. As long as you return you should not have to pay back. Government needs to stop this nonsense of refusing our people who want to leave the island to study without pay or government assistance.

  13. Wait a minute. We send people off to learn a specific technical skill. The agreement is that they will come back and use that particular skill to benefit the community. We do not use taxpayers' money so that people can learn astronomy or nuclear physicis or how to grow wheat in Montana. Neil was a lab tachnician at the hospital. He was send off to get a degree in medical technology. He used the people's money to do that, and the intention was that the people would direclty benefit from the specific things he learned. In the lab. At the hospital. We did not receive the agreed benefit. Just coming back and gracing us with his presence doesn't qualify.

    He had to pay back the money in accordance with his bond? I didn't know that. So now I'm wondering if he ignored that obligation for ten years and only did the right thing after he decided he wanted to be a politician and thus had no choice.

    I'm sure I must be mistaken about this. No person of integrity would do such a thing.

  14. Neil was sent to study Medical Technology in Jamaica after working as a lab assistant in AXA for years. He came back and serve in the health system for a few months. His degree in Medical technology was paid from his own money. And that's a fact.

    In those days, Health Scholarships were paid for by British agencies base in Barbados and other internatinal organisations. When government denied Anguillians scholarships there are always caribbean nationals who benefits. The scholarship that was denied Neil was given to a Bajan who now holds a PH.D.

  15. A torrent of words about related matters obscures the present discussion like a smokescreen.

    He made an agreement. For whatever reason, he chose not to keep the agreement and do something else. He had the right to do that and we had the right to have our money back. Did he pay it then or ten years later?

  16. As far as I'm concern if you go to study one thing and decides you wnat to pursue a different career change go for it. Life is too short ot be sentence for your life time in one career. It is said that on average people will change their careers at leats three times in a lifetime.

    We tend to lose arguments or productive discussion when we try to personalise the issues. Debate the Ministers policies or lack thereof. But ad hominium attacks only distract from the issue.

    Frankly, I am diasappointed Neil chose to run as a United Front candidate, the same people who tried to keep him down. But perhaps he was thinking too many political parties aroun dand it's best to join one.

    I can't comment on the education system because I believe the problems are bigger than one man in office for barely 2.5 years.

    Finally, Should Stanley have stayed in teaching and not purse law?

    Should Hughes have stayed in medicine and not start a construction company?

    Not because you accept a government student loan means you must never leave AXA for higher pursuits. The bonding system is punitive and needs changing. As long as you pay back or contribute to your community that is what should matters. To those who have political aspirations, I admire them. It takes real committment to subject yourself to political office in AXA.

    I only hope they use it for good and not harm.

  17. Today in this thread people are questioning the leadership ability and integrity of the Minister of Education. This is not personalising the issue; this IS the issue. Someone earlier suggested the inevitability of his becoming our Chief Minister someday. He is a public figure in an important public office and if he doesn't want people to question his abilities and integrity he should get out of politics and go work in the hospital.

    No one has asked him to fix the profound problems in our schools in 2.5 years, but to support the excellent people who already know how to do that. In his inaction and lack of leadership he has failed them, he has failed us, he has failed a whole generation of young men who are losers in The Great Anguilla Lottery he has failed Anguilla.

    How much "learning curve" does he need to restore our water lab? Compared to a medical lab, a water lab is child's play for a man of his background -- a "medical professional," as he often brags. And yet he has failed us. The man persists in creating the impression that he is totally lacking in leadership ability, we seem headed for a future with him as our leader, and you're telling me it's ME who's at fault for daring to question his ability and integrity? We got to look for black sheep before dark. Thank God we live in a country where we can still ask these questions and state these opinions.


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