Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports
Release Date:
Friday, 10 February 2023 - 4:47pm





Madam Speaker, on Friday 3rd, February 2022, I received a letter for the BVI Teacher’s Union regarding the payment of outstanding increments. Upon receiving the letter, I immediately contacted the union to request a meeting with the intention to hear directly from teachers so that their concerns could be effectively articulated and represented.

The meeting was held on Thursday, 9th February 2023 and was very productive in achieving the expected outcome and I have committed firmly to representing the views of teachers in relation to both the payment of outstanding increments as well as prioritization of teachers in the compensation review process that is currently ongoing.

The Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports met with the consultants spearheading this compensation and reclassification project on Wednesday of this week and articulated the Ministry’s position of firm reconsideration of salaries for educators in the territory as a matter of urgency. That day, I also met with the consultants in my role as a legislator and supported to position of the Ministry in relation to educators

Madame Speaker, due consideration must be given to the cries of teachers and the value of education to the economy of the Virgin Islands. Education is arguably the most important profession in our society. Educators prepare our children to be successful citizens, not only in the Virgin Islands, but also, globally.

Through education, teachers have the ability to shape our future. In reality, Madam Speaker, it is my belief that teachers have one of the most important jobs in the world. Those who have an impact on the children of society have the power to change lives and to grow and develop the economy. 

Madam Speaker, knowledge and education are the basis for everything that can be accomplished in life. In other words, teachers provide the power of education to today’s youth, thereby providing the springboard for them to have the best future possible.

It is important to realise, Madam Speaker, that our educators play an essential role in the economic development of the Virgin Islands. Education is a fundamental aspect in the development of any country. When the youth of any country are educated, a future is born with hope, vision and possibilities. In actuality, our educators increase the creativity and productivity of students, and therefore, our future workforce. Madam Speaker, our education system directly affects the success and global standing of our economy.

With the investment of financial and intellectual resources, our students are taught concepts that are applicable to real-life and career situations. With greater investment in education, we can place our territory in a more desirable position in this competitive world. Madam Speaker, I firmly believe that the more emphasis we place on education, the more positive outcomes we will experience.

Madam Speaker, one of the major goals of the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports is to show deep appreciation for our educators by truly valuing the work that they do and their worth. Our teachers have shown a high level of dedication and commitment, even in times of crisis. Our teachers deserve more, Madam Speaker. The Ministry aims to build teachers that are highly qualified and adequately compensated.

At present, Madam Speaker, we are losing our teachers to other countries and industries, due to several issues: the low rate of pay, the increased cost of living, compensation offered in other countries, insufficient and outdated resources, and a challenging work environment, just to name a few.

Case in point, Madam Speaker, in the neighbouring United States Virgin Islands, Governor Albert Bryan recently announced that the entry level teacher salary would be raised to $50,000.00, commencing in August, 2023; our starting salary for a Teacher Grade IV is about $34,600.00. Madam Speaker, I implore us all to think carefully about the potential ramifications and impact of such a decision on our education system and, more specifically, our current teacher complement. Consideration for varying approaches to facilitate teacher retention is absolutely critical at this time.

Madam Speaker, I referenced the change in salary in the USVI; however, in Texas, the largest state in the US, the starting salary is now set at $61,500.00 per annum, with the entry level requirements being as simple as the possession of a Bachelor’s degree in any subject area, with the allowance of one or two years to achieve certification. According to the University of Texas at Arlington, in 2020-2021 academic year, Texas hired a high of about 376,000 teachers, and about 12% left that same year. In addition, more than 8,500 teachers retired in 2021, about 1,000 more than in 2020. This is just a brief example to show where the Virgin Islands has no intention of going.

Madam Speaker, the Ministry has already received an alarming number of resignations since the start of this school year. If teachers continue to leave the profession, the immediate and long-term impacts would be gravely felt throughout the territory.

I ask this Honourable House to recall with me, the impact of the devastating hurricanes of 2017 on the education system of these Virgin Islands. Although our schools were greatly damaged, arrangements were made to ensure the continuity of learning. Even though we all experienced the trauma of the devastation, our teachers were able to deal with their own challenges and those of their students and teaching and learning continued.

Madam Speaker, in 2020, we experienced the impact of a global pandemic through which our teachers had to be rapidly trained to use the online platform to continue the instruction of our students. In addition to that, Madam Speaker, our teachers had to monitor the learning of their own children, while providing instruction to their students, simultaneously.

Madam Speaker, it would be remiss of me to not speak to higher salaries for teachers when speaking about the value of education to our Virgin Islands’ economy. The demands on the educator have increased significantly with regard to professional development, monitoring and evaluation, the initiation of Professional Learning Communities and the implementation of S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education as mechanisms of upgrading the system and making it more innovative and competitive.

Madam Speaker, at this juncture, I must emphatically emphasize that, based on these demands, and more, there must be a thrust for higher pay for our teachers. Research indicates that there are several benefits of providing higher salaries for teachers. Increasing the pay of teachers strengthens the pipeline. It is understandable that low compensation for teachers discourages our own from entering the profession. It is my firm belief, Madam Speaker, that raising teacher salaries will improve the quality of our future workforce.

In addition to strengthening the pipeline, higher teacher pay will keep our teachers in the classroom and decrease turnover. Madam Speaker, the low rate of pay for teachers has led and continues to lead them to consider second and third jobs in order to make ends meet. Madam Speaker, we need our teachers to focus on teaching, on building our future.

Education plays a pivotal role in economic development. Education is an investment. Skills demanded by the labour market are changing. Education encourages us to compete and succeed.  Education is truly one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality and it sets the foundation for sustained economic growth. Education is the foundation of our society. Education helps to stimulate minds and build individuals that contribute effectively to their communities. Education is the path for development of society and the overall development of this territory.

Madam Speaker, education is dynamic; changes occur based on demands from industries, desires of the labour market, and times of crisis. Collectively, we must understand the importance of education, and more specifically, our educators, to the growth of the economy of these Virgin Islands.

Thank you Madam Speaker!