The graduates

We will not make progress in education until we align the language we use to measure and discuss it with reality.

In reality, to graduate implies proficiency. You cannot graduate 99% of students if a mere 23% of them are proficient in math for example. The other 77% did not graduate, they were simply moved on from the education system.

There is a lot to say here, but we need to be honest with the students. They deserve honesty. To tell someone you've graduated tells them that they have acquired some skills and a level of education that is valuable to employers.

To tell people that you're 'graduating' implies that what they have achieved has value to an employer. This does not if the overwhelming majority are not proficient in math.

It is unfair and immoral to tell someone they've graduated, with the knowledge that that graduate is unemployable. And it is unfair to blame employers for a supposed systematic failure to employ Bermudians if large numbers of those Bermudians cannot meet minimum standards.

As we see with Customs (and the Fire Service and others), the pool of Bermudian applicants are simply not even close to meeting the most basic expectations to be employed: read, write and problem solve.

At this morning's session of the Joint Select Committee investigating causes in the rise in crimes of violence, the Collector of Customs said that there had been 236 applicants for 12 entry level vacancies, but that only 12 of these had passed the written tests with only eight getting through both the written and drug tests.

The Customs example demonstrates that too many Bermudians are under-educated and over-drugged. If you can't pass a written test or a drug test you are unemployable, not the victim of discrimination.

Today's revelations should put to bed any further discussions of the supposed conspiracy by employers to not hire enough Bermudians. Our economy is built around highly skilled intellectual capital. We are not preparing our people to participate in it.

Lowering standards and legalising drugs is not the solution.

Today the Board of Education admitted, with statistics, the disconnect between 'graduating' and standards, the true extent of the problem.

But the language of politicians must change from denial and social promotion to brutal honesty. The Government must stop pushing the blame and the impact of our broken education system onto the private sector employers. It is dishonest and dangerous.

Parents too have a role to play, and if parents won't participate or home situations are unhealthy then Government must step up and step in to drive individual performance with extreme measures (local boarding schools for example).

This problem has been decades in the making and will take at least a decade to fix. But the impact of the current undereducated generation is only just beginning.

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