(CMR) On Monday, Minister for Education, Hon Juliana O'Connor-Connolly, announced the Cayman Islands Government's decision to provide breakfast, lunch, and snacks for students enrolled in all Government Primary Schools starting in the 2021/2022 academic year.
“Through this initiative, we will be able to ensure that students have access to regular nutritious food options whilst at school,” the Minister stated.
She continued, “The next phase of this initiative will extend to the secondary schools. As such, it is the Ministry's goal to include in the next two-year budget sufficient funds for free meals for high school students commencing August 2022.”
The Lighthouse School, which provides primary and secondary education, will be included in the initiative's first phase.
Minister O'Connor-Connolly was speaking at the Annual Education Professionals' Welcome Back Event at the John Gray High School Gymnasium.
She also announced a plan to provide funding to recruit, by January 2022, 80 new Assistant Teachers to support classes up to Year 9.
“Not every one of our children is at the same level. The Government is committed to providing schools with the resources to assist on this upward trajectory and to make sure that no child within our education system is left behind,” Minister O' Connor-Connolly stated.
Also in attendance was Premier, the Honourable Wayne Panton, who described education as his Government's top priority and expressed his optimism about the new academic year.
“The ratings of schools and the introduction of laptops to public schools have made me very proud and optimistic about the new school year and the future of public education in the Cayman Islands. I am happy to kick start this new school year with you today. We have an outline of the recent successes and those over the last few years. Let us add another positive chapter,” said Premier Panton.
His Excellency Governor Martyn Roper paid homage to educators, stating, “You are heroes in our communities. Each day you have a chance to make a difference in children's lives, and we value what you do.”
In his address, newly appointed Department of Education Services (DES) Director Mark Ray highlighted the elements crucial to the continued progress of the public education sector.
“The journey to excellence is built around you, your schools, your students, and their parents, and we have to surround you with support. Your schools must have strong leadership. We must have quality teachers that believe children can achieve. That is how we will achieve student progress,” Ray remarked.
Chief Officer for the Ministry of Education, Cetonya Cacho, thanked the returning educators for ‘renewing their commitment to the nation's children and the new educators for ‘answering the call to serve in this vital role.'
The annual Education Professionals' event welcomes all new and returning Cayman Islands Government school educators and outlines some of the Ministry of Education's plans for the upcoming school year.