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Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021

Minister Highlights Accomplishments

Minister Highlights Accomplishments

Minister for Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands, Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly provided the high-points in the ministry’s annual reports for 2017-2019. Her full report to Parliament in its first meeting is given below.
Introductory Remarks

Mister Speaker, I rise to lay on the table of this Honourable House, the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Annual Reports of the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands (“MEYSAL”) in accordance with Section 44(5) of the Public Management and Finance Law (2020 Revision).

Components of the Annual Report

Mister Speaker, The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands is the CIG’s largest Ministry with approximately 1,100 staff working in our various subject areas including Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture, Lands, Public Libraries, and Scholarships to name a few. The work to manage this large and diverse group requires rigorous problem-solving, dedication, perseverance, commitment and collaboration.

Scope

Mister Speaker, I will provide a comprehensive review of its performance, achievements, and activities during the period from 1 July 2016 to 31 December 2019 as reflected in the annual reports and financial statements presented.

Education
Mister Speaker, I will first begin with Education which is by far the largest subject area of the Ministry. In keeping with our mandate of ‘Making the Lives of Those We Serve Better’, the Education Ministry has been visible on all three Islands as various strategic policies have been unveiled and it is expected that those strategies will begin to show dividends in the coming years for the Cayman Islands students.

The Ministry placed great emphasis on strengthening its relationships with its local and regional stakeholders, especially during 2019. Some of those accomplishments are highlighted as follows:

Adult Learning Institutions

The Ministry of Education provides support to adult educational institutions to increase local students’ ability to access higher education. The University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI), a statutory body under the Ministry, implemented a new Client Relationship Management (CRM) Data Tracking and Student Survey System. This system will be utilised to compile relevant student data that will ultimately improve student retention, career outcomes and academic performance.

Further to the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) appeal to contributing countries to reduce their outstanding debts, the Ministry paid contributions of CI$2,348,976 to UWI. This was done in recognition of the difficult financial state of affairs of UWI and on the understanding that discussions with UWI Open Campus on funding, which had been on hold for a number of years, would be resuming.

In April 2019, the Accreditation Commission on Colleges of Medicine (ACCM), which serves as the authorised accrediting body for medical education in the Cayman Islands, carried out a comprehensive on-site inspection of St Matthew’s University School of Medicine (SMUSOM) and concluded that St Matthew’s University is acting in compliance with all fourteen of the ACCM Standards of Accreditation. ACCM approved a six- year period of unconditional accreditation for SMUSOM until June 2025.

Private Schools’ Association

The Ministry, through its Purchase Agreement with the Private Schools’ Association, was able to provide support to the Association’s 12 members to assist with their operational costs. It was also able to increase its support for Private Schools in accordance with the Education Law, 2016, Education Regulations, 2017 and National Policies. This increased support included a dedicated private school liaison in the Ministry of Education to assist schools in ensuring they meet the necessary registration requirements, and align their policies with National Policies. Data is also collected from private schools to assist the Ministry of Education in decision-making for policies and guidelines that affect all schools in the country.

As part of its mandate of ensuring safe schools for students, a Ministry team presented to the Private Schools’ Association on Child Protection, specifically the National Policies to ensure all schools had such policies in place.

Registration of Educational Institutions

During the period, the Ministry also supported Inspire Cayman Training, a new TVET provider, through the registration process with the Education Council bringing the opportunity for Caymanians to be trained in a number of trade disciplines as well as to gain PADI diving certifications.

Nursery Pilot Programme

In September 2019, the Department of Education Services introduced a pilot nursery programme for three-year-olds at Creek & Spot Bay Infant School. The programme which is geared towards providing academic and emotional learning will better prepare students to transition into compulsory education. General feedback has indicated that parents were satisfied with the programme’s offerings. A formal evaluation is underway with results to be available imminently to inform future decisions.

Department of Education Services

The Department of Education Services (DES) is the operational arm of the Cayman Islands Ministry of Education. It provides the resources and support to government schools to implement the various policies and procedures that have been set out by the Ministry. It is led by the Director of Education Services and consists of the following sections/units:

Data and Testing
Registration/Communication Services
School Improvement
Facilities, and
Business Services
The DES also facilitates transcript requests, and responses to various queries.

During this Period, the DES achieved success in the following areas:

School Inclusion Services
Deployment of Counsellors
Special Education Needs Coordinators (SENCO)
Apprenticeship
School Assessment Updates
Primary Schools

There are 12 Primary Schools located throughout the Cayman Islands with a total number of 2,651 students and a staff of 212 highly-qualified individuals. Eight schools, namely Theoline L McCoy Primary, East End Primary, Edna M Moyle Primary, George Town Primary, Prospect Primary, Red Bay Primary, Savannah Primary, Sir John A Cumber Primary, are located on Grand Cayman. Three additional schools, namely Creek & Spot Bay Primary and West End Primary, are located on Cayman Brac, while Little Cayman Services is situated on Little Cayman.

Primary School Student Enrollment

Staff Complement

Sir John A. Cumber Primary School (SJACPS) 527students 37teachers

George Town Primary School (GTPS) 280students 20teachers

Red Bay Primary School (RBPS) 434students 31teachers

Prospect Primary School (PPS) 351students 23teachers

Savannah Primary School (SPS) 427students 30teachers

Theoline L McCoy Primary School (TMPS) 279students 18teachers

Edna M. Moyle Primary School (EMPS) 95students 15teachers

East End Primary School (EEPS) 87students 13teachers

Creek & Spot Bay Primary School (CSBPS) 96students 13teachers

West End Primary School (WEPS) 71students 11teachers

Little Cayman Education Services (LCES) 4students 1teacher

Total 2,651students 212 teachers

Curriculum

The DES implemented a new National Primary School Curriculum in August 2019. Some of the Curriculum’s content has been adapted from the National Curriculum for English Primary Schools. As part of this new Curriculum, each Primary school now offers a new Cayman-based Social Studies Curriculum; Robotics, Coding, Design Technology and Spanish during Key Stage 2; as well as new assessment resources to support Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and foundation subjects.

A Key Stage 2, Primary School Parent guide was also developed to support the implementation of the new Primary Curriculum. Teacher training to support the moderation of the new Curriculum also began in this year and is scheduled to continue over the next two years. Several teachers across KS1 and KS2 have already completed moderation training.

New Principal Appointments

Two Caymanian principals were appointed at Edna M Moyle Primary and Clifton Hunter High School in August 2019 and another at Theoline L McCoy Primary School in August 2018. A Caymanian Acting Principal was also seconded to the Sir John A Cumber Primary School in August 2019. This is a continuation of development of Caymanian Educators in top educational positions.

Senior School Improvement Officers (SSIO)

Senior School Improvement Officers (SSIOs) provide support and guidance to school leaders to ensure that schools achieve positive outcomes. The DES appointed three new SSIOs in 2019. Two of these three SSIOs are Caymanians, and are assigned to Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) and Cayman Brac/Little Cayman, respectively. The third SSIO, who is a non-Caymanian was assigned to the Western Communities. Each SSIO comes with a wealth of experience, having previously held leadership positions in high performing schools.

Lighthouse School

Lighthouse School currently has 110 registered students and a staff comprised of 15 dedicated teachers. At the start of the 2018/19 academic year, the DES launched a Year 12 Pilot Programme at the institution. During that period, seven students sat Stage 1- English and Mathematics in the internationally recognised City & Guilds exams. Further to this commendable undertaking, two students from the cohort passed the City & Guilds exams. Both students are currently enrolled in the Hospitality Studies Certificate programme at UCCI. During the 2019/20 academic year, a group of six students passed City & Guilds exams- Stage 1 English and math. Five of those students are currently enrolled at CIFEC.

Secondary Schools

There are four Secondary Schools located within the Cayman Islands. Three schools, namely John Gray High School (JGHS), Clifton Hunter High School (CHHS) and Cayman Islands Further Education Centre are located on Grand Cayman. Layman E Scott High School (LSHS) is situated on Cayman Brac.

2019 saw the launch of the Everest programme in government secondary schools after a successful 2018 pilot. Everest is a versatile resource that has provided teachers with a simple, web-based interface through which to enter data relating to students’ behaviour and attendance. It further allows the retrieval of data in a readily accessible format and facilitates homework, learning resources and curriculum sections; features that will allow our educators to digitise the learning process and provide distance/online learning. Everest is also synchronised to the School Information Management System (SIMS).

In addition to the introduction of Everest, a change in graduation dates from June to August presented schools with the opportunity to recognise more students for additional and higher level passes, since this time allowed for the receipt of external examinations results. Of the total, 158 students or 46 percent of the graduating cohort received higher level diplomas in 2019.

JGHS

Sixty students received higher level diplomas for passing seven or more subject areas in their external examinations; 25 of those students achieved nine or more passes.

CHHS

Caymanian educator, Dr. Richard Wildman was appointed as the new Principal at Clifton Hunter High School in 2019. In August 2019, 10 students graduated with higher level passes in nine or more subject areas. Two of those students were ranked seventh regionally for their performance in Integrated Science. One of the two also ranked ninth regionally for performance in Human and Social Biology.

The institution was subject to a full inspection in November 2019, just a few months after his appointment. The inspections highlighted some positives from the new leadership. Positives included improved arrangements to monitor the quality of teaching in the school due to the senior staff’s increased involvement in lesson observations as well as the extended role of subject leaders in the evaluation of teaching within their departments.

Layman Scott High School

Sixteen students graduated with higher level certificates having received passes in seven or more subject areas.

Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC)

At CIFEC, students who did not attain passes in Mathematics or English receive the opportunity to re-sit these and other subjects; while also gaining work experience opportunities and vocational training. The institution currently offers instruction in 12 vocational areas including ICT, Beauty Therapy, Health & Social Care, Business and Work Skills. Students receive Business & Technology Education Council (BTEC) qualifications upon successful course completion of all courses except for its Motor Vehicle course, which provides students with the Institute of Motor Industry (IMI) certification.

Early Childhood Care and Education Unit

Mister Speaker, the Early Childhood Care and Education Unit (ECCE) provides services to enhance the quality of and access to early childhood care and education, in private and public settings to early childhood care and education, in private and public settings.

In 2016-17, the team was heavily focused on the implementation of the new curriculum and assessment for early years and provision of financial assistance through the Early Childhood Assistance Programme (ECAP) for young Caymanian children who will be between the ages of 3 years old and 4 years old before 1 September 2017.

In 2018, the ECAP programme continued alongside the implementation of Reception Programmes in Government Schools where:

One Early Childhood Care and Education Officer was assigned to all Reception Programmes in the Government Schools to provide targeted and uniform support for all Reception staff.
Child Protection Training for owners/managers and practitioners - The Early Childhood Care and Education Unit, in collaboration with the Programme Manager for At-Risk Youth and other stakeholders, completed training of 250 early childhood practitioners and owners/managers of early childhood care and education centers as part of the Second Step Programme for child protection.
In 2019, there was an adjustment to the means-testing criteria for the ECAP consistent with the 5% cost of living increase received by civil servants. Before this 5% adjustment, the highest monthly household income that could qualify for funding was $4,760.00. Further to the adjustment, the highest monthly household income increased to $4,998.00, thus making funding available to a more significant number of Caymanians.

Additionally, throughout this reporting period, the ECCE Unit provided several professional development sessions for early childhood practitioners. The sessions focused on addressing areas of need with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of Early Childhood Care and Education Centres.

Significant among these was the Hanen Teacher Talk Training Programme which was facilitated by KidsAbility Cayman, funded by the Ministry of Education and delivered to eighty (80) early childhood practitioners.
The Programme proved to be an ideal training tool due to its strong research base and relevance to the Cayman Islands society. It also promises to enhance the quality of early childhood education by providing early childhood practitioners with training in language development, interactions with young children, facilitating and fostering language and interaction.
The Scholarship Secretariat Unit

The staff of the Secretariat Unit has now grown to five full-time employees who are usually called upon to simultaneously process approvals for new local scholarships and new overseas scholarships as well as submissions/disbursements of funds for returning students already on overseas scholarship. To simplify and manage the scholarship application process a new dedicated email was setup for students to file submissions. The email address is scholarshipsubmissions@gov.ky.

The Secretariat also established a partnership with Cayman National Bank and Butterfield Bank to allow for direct deposit and bulk deposit, respectively, of students’ disbursements. This reduced the number of in person encounters for students receiving funds and improved the efficiency of the unit.

A student survey following feedback that indicated concerns about the Online Application Process. Results from the survey indicated that most respondents found the platform ‘somewhat easy’ to ‘extremely easy’ to navigate (89.6%) and experienced no challenges (63.6%). Whilst the survey results were positive, the results and feedback were used to further enhance services through the provision of a new checklist and declaration form for students. This again reduced delays and provided greater efficiencies for the team.

As a result of the student feedback survey completed in 2017, several amendments to the online application process were completed. The actual printed application was reduced to one page.

The Secretariat continued to provide support to potential scholarship recipients and awardees through various Town Hall meetings held in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac. Participation in school career fairs along with meeting with individual senior classes to discuss the scholarship application and career choices occurred.

During 2019, the Secretariat acquired additional administrative support through university interns and a temporary support administrator which allowed for the Scholarship Database to be brought up to date with overseas scholarship awardees for the 2015-2019 academic years. The Secretariat also acquired access to the online resource Share File, which allows for confidential documents to be shared for application review in a secure platform and in adherence with the Data Protection Law, 2019. This platform is used with interview panel members and Education Council members.

Deadlines for processing of disbursements was established and resulted in timely and efficient processing of cheque payment requests for scholarship awardees. A heavy-duty photocopier/scanner machine was purchased to be used exclusively by Scholarships which will also allow the security of documents.

Networking Event

The Secretariat hosted a celebratory event on 1 August for Overseas Scholarship Conditional Awardees. The event created an opportunity for the Education Council and Ministry to congratulate those applicants who had been successful in reaching the conditional approval stage of the scholarship process. It also provided an opportunity to thank the many dedicated professionals who assisted with the interview panels over the years. The event also provided an opportunity for students to network with other prospective university students. During the evening, several speakers shared useful information with attendees. Past scholarship awardees shared their experience of going off to university, while the Secretariat highlighted the continued support available for both students and parents. There are plans for this event to be an annual one with the intention that it will evolve to provide additional opportunities for networking and mentoring of students.

Scholarship Promotions

The Secretariat continued to promote the valuable opportunity of local and overseas scholarships in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac through various school meetings, presentations and career fairs. The Scholarship Secretariat will continue to provide support to students in their career aspirations and the application process, during the 2020 scholarship year, by utilising the career fairs and small group sessions.

College Tours

In July 2019, Dr. Thompson, a senior staff member of the Secretariat, participated in the Ontario Colleges and Southern Universities tour. Dr. Thompson met with representatives of several of the universities, allowing for networking and discussion on some of the challenges our students may face while attending those particular institutions. A visit to Ontario Tech and Durham College, two TVET linked colleges was also undertaken which allowed a first-hand view of a viable option for those students interested in TVET and vocational studies.

The Public Libraries

The Cayman Islands Public Library Services (“LIB”) provides a critical community resource for personal enrichment, enjoyment and educational needs and an important component of the National workforce development and training agenda.

Strategic and financial oversight is provided by the Ministry. The Friends of the Library, a not for profit organisation, chaired by Mr. Mike Pilling, also supports and finances additional library ventures and projects.

The Cayman Islands Public Library Service provides materials and services for community residents of all ages for personal enrichment, enjoyment and educational needs. The library has a special mission to young children and their parents to encourage a love of reading and learning.

The Sunrise Adult Training Centre

Mister Speaker, over the past 33 years, the Sunrise Adult Training Centre (SRC) has provided vocational training and therapeutic programmes to Adults with Disabilities throughout the Cayman Islands. SRC holds the distinction of being the only government-funded agency in the Cayman Islands to provide interventions that enable the empowerment, employment, and independence of its clients.

Cabinet approved an Outline Business Case (OBC) for a new 25,000-30,000 square-foot Sunrise Adult Training Facility (SATF). There were several meetings of the SATF Technical Subcommittee throughout the year. Specialist architect consultations were arranged through local consultants RLB and the Ministry intend to go open tender for various construction consultative design services during 2021.

Youth


Youth Services Unit

The Youth Services Unit is an important entity that was established under mandate from the National Youth Policy of the Cayman Islands. Its role is to act as a collaborating body among the various youth service providers to ensure that there are vibrant and relevant programmes in place for youth in the Cayman Islands. It was established under the Ministry to implement the objectives called for in the Youth Policy for the provision of youth services.

The unit advises on youth policy, competitions and activities. In addition, the unit partners with existing and prospective youth services providers to formulate programmes that facilitate the empowerment of young people, sets standards and monitors the programmes of youth service providers receiving government grants, assists with the training of youth workers in the community, assists youth in accessing services offered by government and private entities, offers programmes that empower youth where the need exists and keeps abreast of all issues that impact youth empowerment.

The unit continues to monitor youth service providers and offer life skills sessions and leadership development training to youth and youth groups in order to fulfil the mandate of vibrant programmes in all districts. Initiatives such as the YouthFlex Radio Show provide a public platform for youth to use their voice, and the Cayman Islands Youth Assembly helps youth formulate solutions to youth related issues.

Cayman Islands Cadet Corps

The Cayman Islands Cadet Corps (CICC) is funded by Cabinet for two main items: Cadet Training Programme (CAD4) and Cadet Corps Vocational Qualifications Programme (CAD6). It delivers these outputs at the unit level coordinated centrally by our headquarters. The mode of delivery is through the United Kingdom Army Proficiency Certificate for cadets.

The Cayman Islands Cadet Corps was able to provide an internationally recognised Star 4 Cadet Corp programme for youth ages 11 – 19 which covered all areas of cadetting, in particular core areas such as drill, map and compass and field craft and adventure training. All cadets were able to gain marine experience as marine activities were executed throughout the year with an additional five cadets developing specialised marine skills since the acquisition of the marine vessel.

The CICC participated in all National Parades and held local parades of their own, including Passing Out (Enrollment) and Awards/Closing Parades. The Cadet Corps provided community service for over 18 activities which included clean ups, volunteer services to other government departments and organisations and simulation exercises for the National Emergency Operating Centre. Cadets were able to attend local and regional camps which gave them the opportunity to apply the skills they learned.

The Cayman Islands Cadet Corps was able to provide a vocational and technical training programme (BTEC Level I & Level II Diploma in Teamwork & Personal Development) to Cadets who are at least 16 years of age and Star 2 qualified. As part of the regular training, participants learned about professional CV preparation, interviewing techniques, communication, first aid, adventure training, health and nutrition and physical fitness. The band detachment was reintroduced and will be further developed.



Sports
Department of Sports

The Department focuses the majority of its financial resources on six "focus sports" – athletics, basketball, cricket, football, netball and swimming – and provides technical assistance and expertise in these six disciplines through community programmes, afterschool programmes, school sessions, national programmes and sports camps. The Department also maintains over 20 sports/recreational facilities ensuring they are kept in a state of readiness and safety for public use provides guidance on sport policy matters and monitors the development of sports in the Cayman Islands.



Other Public engagement activities include:

• Over 40 After-School community sport development programmes;

• Provision of coaching support for 8 national programmes;

• Over 2,300 School sessions facilitated; and

• Development of 6 sports workshops.



Most notably, in 2019 was the Cayman Islands Government’s (CIG) hosting of the CARIFTA games in April, for the third time, having hosted in 1995 and 2010. The premiere junior athletics event, which was held at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex with the CIG as its main sponsor; saw the participation of 500 athletes and delegates from across the Caribbean competing in 66 events. In preparation for the event, the CIG invested in a new track; a new warm-up area near the netball courts; improved lighting; additional equipment storage and a large widescreen for the Truman Bodden Sports Centre. A team of 52 athletes ably represented the Cayman Islands in several events.

The Department continues to focus on support services in sports to continue to inspire athletes to aim higher and to reach further; which are a part of the core component of the Ministry’s strategy for the overall growth and development of our youth.

Sister Islands Sports

Sister Island Sports delivers programmes to provide sports coaching and instructing primarily in the six focus sports - basketball, cricket, football, volleyball, athletics, and swimming. These are conducted to improve the health, well-being, technical skills and fitness of youth and adults from novice to elite levels. The Unit also provides sport education, training, technical advice and support services for various stakeholders including schools, sports clubs, and communities.

Highlights include:

Courses / Clinics
National Level Sports Competitions
Cayman Islands Cricket Association Super League
Community Sports Development Programmes
Other Notable Achievements:
National Teams Trials & Recruiting
Development & Community Events
Sports Tourism / International Events
Little Cayman Sports
National Team Representatives
Camps
Sports Days
Agriculture
Department of Agriculture

Like all Government departments and entities, the Department of Agriculture fulfils its mandate through the delivery of outputs that are outlined in Budget Statements and funded through the Annual Plan & Estimates.

Outputs vary and can change over time depending on Government’s overall Strategic Objectives. Government, through the Minister and Ministry sets policy and the Department delivers projects, programmes and services to support these policies.

In 2017, the Department through inspired performance and a dedicated team, posted another year of industry growth punctuated by service improvements to its customers. Transferred to the Ministry through the General Elections, the Department of Agriculture was able to continue implementation of the various programmes that had been a part of the 2016 Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA), which was a significant achievement for the Cayman Islands as it became the first United Kingdom Overseas Territory to host the (CWA) with the theme Investing in Food and Agriculture. The event attracted over 300 delegates including Ministers of Agriculture from the region, and representatives from key international and regional institutions. A delegation from the Pacific Islands was also in attendance. The event was well attended and emphasised Government’s continued support, interest and promotion of the agricultural sector.

In 2018, the Department of Agriculture had fewer outputs (in number) from last financial year - reduced to three from nine. The original nine outputs have been grouped according to commonality of their function and placed into three broader outputs, namely –

▪ AGR 3317 - Services to Support Agricultural Production (formerly AGR 21,27,28,29 & part of 31).

▪ AGR 3417 - Animal and Plant Regulatory Services (formerly AGR 24, 25 & part of 31)

▪ AGR 3517 - Support for the Development of the Agriculture Sector (formerly AGR26 and 32).

Since 2016, the DoA has worked with Regional and National Plant Protection organisations, to develop updated import conditions to mitigate the risk of pest introduction in shipments of fresh-cut Christmas trees. As a result of ongoing training, only one consignment of 465 trees out of a total of 2,307 imported Christmas trees, had to be treated.

This worked continued through 2019 where the DoA Agricultural Health Inspection Service (AHIS) staff completed Pest Risk Assessments (PRAs) on six quarries, which include quarries in four countries. A PRA was also completed and a permit granted for the importation of specialised aggregate material from Canada for the airport runway resurfacing and expansion project.



Lands
Lands and Survey Department

The Lands and Survey Department was also one of the Agencies transferred into the Ministry due to the 2017 General Elections. The Department has settled well and has continued several initiatives to improve service delivery through increased technology use. As a result of increased activity in our economy and local real estate markets, the improvements underway will ensure the Department continues to act as a facilitator for growth, by inspiring investor confidence through the protection of records relating to property rights.

Consistent with goals stipulated by the Deputy Governor to elevate service standards using technology to deliver faster and more efficient services, the Lands & Survey Department (LSU) pursued several initiatives in 2016-17 aimed at embracing the concept of e-Government.

Key initiatives include the e-Conveyancing project which seeks to provide a modern system for Land Registration where each stage of the process can be completed electronically rather than being paper-based were embraced through 2018 and continues to bear dividends to date.

Significant work was also carried out to convert all paper records received since the inception of the Land Registry in 1972. This work included:

i. Enhancement to the LSLS to accommodate the digital registration of Powers of Attorneys and Letters of Administration including the automatic numbering and scanning of these documents.

ii. Development of the LR Indexer application (through NGIS) to capture metadata for all textual records to be converted which will allow the application to index and upload images without the need for further data entry. To date approximately 80% of those records have been readied for scanning.

iii. The development of a Request for Proposal which was issued to the public in September 2017. The expected execution of contract is to be done on a phased approach with 500,000 images/records being converted by the successful bidder in 2018.

iv. Deployment of additional forms, in conjunction with Computer Services Department, and made available on the Online Forms Systems.

v. Improving stakeholder relationships by introduction of Online Forms System and offering training sessions on the use of the new forms.

vi. Reviewing and developing the Escrow System for payments and processing of volumetric parcels, currently in testing environment

The Department has entered into an agreement with the UK Hydrographic Office to achieve the international charting requirements for the ‘International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea’ (SOLAS). The Department will provide marine data to the UK for access by all shipping interests entering Cayman waters which is a crucial safety measure. This is a part of a broader initiative under which the Cayman Coastguard Service was established.

Aerial drones are now being regularly used to produce high-resolution, up to date imagery for inspection and use by various Government and private sector land parcel features.



GIS

The LSD has introduced an online license renewal process to accommodate the over 200 persons who subscribe to receive online mapping and data services from it annually. It is hoped that this new online process will result in higher speed and greater efficiency.

Land Registry

The LSD continued its phased conversion of Land Registry Documents to scanned form in 2019. Under phase 2 of the contract, an additional 256,796 images were scanned and delivered. By year-end, 26 Blocks were digitally converted.

Land Purchases

The Lands and Surveys Department is tasked with the acquisition of land for the following purposes:

1. Beach Access- as directed by Cabinet,

2. Preservation of habitats- as directed by the Department of Environment and subject to Cabinet approval,

3. Provision of public space i.e. parks and cemetery extensions

4. Strategic land acquisition- as directed by Chief Officers and subject to Cabinet Approval

During this year, terms were settled on nine Land Acquisitions that included five Ocean Front parcels.



Road Compensation Cases

In addition to those negotiations, the Department has provided land acquisition cost estimates on six additional proposed roads schemes with a total anticipated acquisition cost of $10.7m.



Communications

The Ministry’s Communications and Public Relations function includes events, campaigns, press releases, press briefings, speeches and the management of social media communications. Each of these assists in promoting the work of the Ministry and providing important information to both the public of the Cayman Islands and the internal stakeholders in the Cayman Islands Government. Press releases are consistently written for all units of the Ministry promoting their work as well as Facebook and Instagram posts to promote relevant events or information from the Ministry or its Departments.

Information, Communications and Technology (“ICT”) Unit

Mister Speaker, the Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Unit is tasked with the management and oversight of all ICT activities across the Ministry. More specifically, its responsibilities include the provision of procurement services, systems integration, ICT policy and support for its end-users.

During 2017, the ICT Unit was responsible for the network infrastructure set up for John Gray High School and support services for the first Cayman Islands NCAA basketball tournament.

The NCAA tournament took place in November 2017 and provided an estimated $2.4 million in direct economic impact and $6 million in media exposure for the Cayman Islands. It provided excellent entertainment for the public and contributes to the Governments outcome to improve sports tourism.

Website upgrades and the utilization of social media that is integrated with a teacher portal and parent portal (SIMS Learning Gateway) were launched for all primary schools in 2017. Through these efforts, the Unit is supporting greater communication between teachers, learners and parents.

The Government seeks to deliver faster, more efficient and secure services to the public via its e-Government initiative. The ICT Unit is supporting this programme through key improvements in cyber security and participation in the National institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) project.

Support is also being provided to enhance the provision of reports on student progress and achievements for parents and other key stakeholders in the community. In 2016-17 the Unit rolled out the national reporting online desktop and Student Passport system for easier generation of reports and improve use of data in schools

The most significant addition to fixed assets in 2018 was the ICT integration across the curriculum, improved cybersecurity, purchase of laptops and minor capital projects mainly across the schools.

Throughout the years, the ICT unit provided detailed data reports that document and explain student performance across the system through the support of the national reporting online dashboard and the Student Passport system. The use of these systems enabled reports to be generated easier thus resulting in an improved use of data in schools. The unit also facilitated improved stakeholder communications within the education sector, supported by the use better online resources, utilising web-based, social media channels and other e-solutions through the release of the Everest portal in several primary and high schools (John Gray High School (JGHS), Layman Scott High Sr. School (LSHS), George Town Primary School (GTPS) and Prospect Primary School (PPS)). Everest was released to all schools by the end of 2019.



Finance

Mister Speaker, during the Reporting Period, the Ministry continues to have very good liquidity, with sufficient easily convertible-to- cash assets in order to pay short-term amounts owed, with a solid cash position and sufficient current assets and limited current liabilities. The Ministry also has a very favourable, low gearing debt-to-equity ratio, that is, minimal debt in relation to the equity/net worth, due to the strong equity position and minimal liabilities.

For the first time in the history of this Ministry, all financial audits are completely up to date, and the unqualified (clean audit) opinions have been maintained since 2014/15 up to the last audit in 2019. This is a significant milestone in the financial governance of the Ministry.


Conclusion

Mister Speaker, I have attempted to provide a summary of the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sport, Agriculture and Lands Annual Reports and audited financial statements for the period from 1 July 2016 ended 31 December 2019, focusing mainly on 2019. The Ministry continues to play a vital role in the regulation of and administering of the finances and resources placed in its subject areas.

It is my prayer that future generations of Caymanians will continue to reap the benefits of the policies and programmes implemented under this Ministry’s subject areas.
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