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I wholeheartedly thank every teacher in the Cayman Islands for your daily investment in the future of our country.

Hon. Tara Rivers, MLA, Minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs

Published 6th October 2014, 2:24pm

“Invest in the Future, invest in Teachers” is the 2014 theme for World Teachers’ Day, which has been celebrated annually on October 5th since 1994. This day is observed globally with the support of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), as well as Education International (EI), organisations whose core values for education are streamlined with our own.

I am pleased to note that this theme is in line with the focus of the Ministry of Education as we are currently reviewing ways to better improve and more diligently invest in the public education system in our islands. As leaders in education, it is our duty to ensure that our young minds are given every chance to succeed, not only in the classroom, but in their future careers and lives. The foundation for that success is what is offered to them in our classrooms today, and directly reflects the time, energy and monetary support invested by our government, our parents and guardians, and specifically, our teachers.

In order to maximise these outcomes, the Ministry of Education has increased our investment in terms of support for our teachers. For example, Professional Development (PD) opportunities for teachers are of the highest importance to us. Some of the PD opportunities planned for this year include:

• The facilitation of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) online training courses, that support their specific school improvement goals

• Improving teaching and learning in Maths

• Teaching Assistant Training

• The New Educators Support and Training (NEST) programme, to support the development of new teachers

• Linda-mood Bell Training, for Special Education Needs (SEN) support

Providing teachers with the means to have their voices and concerns heard has also been a priority. Avenues such as the Principal’s Consultative Council and the Teachers’ Forum are ongoing opportunities for teachers to have a greater input in policy development and decision-making within our education systems.

Implemented this year was also a new Student Code of Conduct for high schools, calling for strict and clear-cut guidelines for students on how to conduct themselves while on campus. This initiative was put forward to empower our teachers to be able to exercise full authority in their classrooms, and I urge all students and parents/guardians to abide carefully by this new code. Giving our teachers the power and support they require to successfully lead their classes is another way that the Government demonstrates its investment in our educators.

The long term goal of the Ministry is to support an education system that is among the best in the world, and we are committed to doing so. By empowering our teachers both inside and independent of their classrooms, we are creating a culture that not only treasures its educators, but is constantly improving and therefore raising the standard for education, all while simultaneously addressing the critical needs within our system.

I would like to encourage you all to consider that the return on investment of education is not simply whether students perform in their classrooms, but their long-term commitment to learning, and their ability to contribute meaningfully to our society as adults. As Greek writer and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis said, “True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”

On behalf of the Ministry of Education and the Department of Education Services, I wholeheartedly thank every teacher in the Cayman Islands for your daily investment in the future of our country. We as a nation are grateful for you on your special day, and every day. Happy World Teacher’s Day!

Hon. Tara Rivers, MLA

Minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs