Bill to establish the University of The Bahamas moves to second reading in the House of Assembly

 

Nassau, The Bahamas – Today, marked a milestone in the fulfillment of a 14-year vision, with the move to second reading in the House of Assembly of the Bill to establish the University of The Bahamas.

Member of Parliament for Marathon and Minister of Education, Science and Technology, the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, opened debate on the Bill noting, “our Government has a vision for higher education that is progressive and meets the needs of our ever-changing population. This vision is for a national university in The Bahamas.”

Minister Fitzgerald highlighted that eventual passage of this Bill will bring about “change for a stronger and more modern Bahamas for everyone.”

The transformation to a University will have the country see improvements in academics, service, infrastructure and financial management.

These improvements coupled with the Government’s more than doubling of its investment in scholarships since 2011 from $7.75 million to $16.2 million in 2016, is enhancing the capacity to ensure quality of education for Bahamians, especially young people, to empower them to reach higher and contribute to the national development of the nation.

Minister Fitzgerald distinguished that “the University of The Bahamas Bill is drafted with the future in mind…[it] incorporates the concept for the entire country and one that will not be a Nassau-centric institution.” The bill would not only establish the University, but allow for growth and expansion of the University throughout the islands of The Bahamas to reach every Bahamian throughout the archipelago.

Some colleges that will fall under the umbrella of the University of The Bahamas will include the College of Anthropology and Sustainability Studies in San Salvador, the College of Engineering and Technology in Grand Bahama, the Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Sciences Institute (BAMSI) in Andros, and other colleges to be expanded into the future.

Minister Fitzgerald also noted that BAMSI is carrying out innovative work and is the brain child of Prime Minister Perry Christie. Last week, the first 23 students to ever graduate from BAMSI were honoured at a special ceremony at which the Governor General, Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Science and Technology and others attended. The Government is committed to maximizing the success of BAMSI, which includes incorporating it into the national university system.

Minister Fitzgerald underscored that, “once the Bill to establish the University of The Bahamas has been passed, the university-transition process will not come to an end. This long-term, evolutionary strategy involves understanding that improving the quality of the services for our students and enhancing the student-life experience is a continuous process.”

This journey towards an institution that will be a centre for excellence, a hub for intellectual expertise and creation of new knowledge will be one to benefit all people of The Bahamas.

The Minister paid homage to the Prime Minister for his vision to establish the University of The Bahamas in 2002 and his role in shaping national development.

Once this Bill is passed, the Government will have delivered on every promise in its Charter for Governance on education. In doing so, the Government is continuing to empower Bahamians to unite and build a stronger, and more modern Bahamas, together.

For the full text see below:

 

Mr. Speaker,

God is Good!!

Last night as I reflected on the significance of this debate and indeed this piece of legislation and I drifted back to 2002. I contemplated the twist and turns along the road of life. I digested the significance of being appointed the deputy chairman of the College of The Bahamas at the age of 36 and how unknown at the time, my life would forever be changed.

I can recall with precise clarity when the Council met for the first time in June 2002 headed by then Chairman Sir Franklyn Wilson and the newly elected Prime Minister the Rt. Honourable Perry Christie came to give us our charge. It was a simple but complex message. Transition the College to The University of The Bahamas! There was silence as we absorbed the magnitude of the instruction. That was 14 years ago and here I am as Minister of Education and here is the The Rt. Honourable member for Centerville, to witness the full flowering of a vision he had 14 years ago. We would not be here today debating this Bill were it not for Perry Gladstone Christie.

God is Good!

As a Bahamian today is one of my proudest moments. In this Bill is the promise of our people. This Bill represents a Vision for the Future. This Bill extends the hands of hope and embraces tangible opportunity for a great Nation.

This is indeed the day that the Lord has made!

Our Government has a vision for higher education that is progressive and meets the needs of our ever-changing population. This vision is for a national university in The Bahamas.

A vision, Mr. Speaker, when embraced by the people, can bring about change. Change for a stronger and more modern Bahamas for everyone. This is what the University of The Bahamas will mean and is just another example of a promise fulfilled by our Government since elected in 2012.

This government has now delivered on every single promise it gave in the area of education in our Charter for Governance. In fact, we have gone far above and beyond our promises. We have done so in 4 short years. It is fitting that as we deliver the final promise it is the most significant; The University of The Bahamas!

The transformation to a University will have us see improvements in:

  • Academics;
  • Service;
  • Infrastructure; and
  • Financial Management

These improvements coupled with our Government’s more than doubling its investment in scholarships since 2011 from 7.75 million to 16.2 million in 2016, give us an enhanced capacity to ensure quality education for our people, especially our young people, to empower them to reach higher, and to contribute to the national development of our nation.

Our Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Perry Christie said last year that the University of The Bahamas will be “a defining step in the evolution of The Bahamas”. Indeed that is true Mr. Speaker.

University of The Bahamas beyond New Providence

It is most important to note that the University of The Bahamas Bill is drafted with the future in mind. It is also important to note that this drafting incorporates the concept of a national University for the entire country and one that will not be a Nassau-centric institution.   With that being said, I want to  note that within the Bill, the Board of Trustees will be authorized to approve the creation and establishment of Colleges under the umbrella of the University of The Bahamas System.  In other words, this Bill is more than a Bill to establish the University but a Bill to allow for the growth and expansion of the University throughout our islands to – it is hoped – eventually reaching every Bahamian boy and girl, every father and mother throughout our nation.

The entire country will be seen as the campus for the University of The Bahamas.  As we speak, the administrators on the main campus, although located in the capital, meet weekly, via video-conference, with administrative staff from all campuses including Grand Bahama in the north and San Salvador in the south.

The campus in San Salvador, a residential research institute, is completely owned by the College of The Bahamas; and, under the University, this campus will expand further, adding to the depth and breadth of anthropological and sustainability research for the benefit of the entire country. This campus can already house 250 students.  It will become heavily coordinated with the Small Island Sustainability Research Complex at the Oakes Field Campus, which is presently under construction.  At the San Salvador campus, the Research Faculty will teach and conduct seminars between the Small Island Sustainability Research Complex and on-site field stations in San Salvador.   In years to come, this could be the University of The Bahamas’ College of Anthropology and Sustainability Studies.

The campus in Grand Bahama Island, with approximately 500 students, as I mentioned, is currently witnessing the construction of its first residential facility.  Like the campus in the south, this campus will become a Centre of Excellence in the areas of Industrial Manufacturing, Entrepreneurial Studies and Maritime Studies.  This campus is moving toward greater autonomy and decision-making authority.  In the near future, this campus could be the College of Engineering and Technology.

These campuses will grow and blossom into Colleges that will attract students and faculty both nationally and internationally to live and study while contributing to the economic and social growth of the entire community.

Likewise, in the east, the University will seek to strengthen its relationship with the Island School in South Eleuthera, while further expanding its presence in Exuma in the area of Sustainable Development Studies.

It is only a natural progression then, that the residential campus located in the west, the Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Sciences Institute – BAMSI – come under the umbrella administrative structure of the University of The Bahamas; with its academic component becoming the University of The Bahamas’ College of Agriculture and Marine Sciences.

BAMSI is an innovative programme of this Government and the brain child of The Rt. Honourable Prime Minister, was introduced to not only assist The Bahamas in achieving food security and lowering reliance on imports, but to also provide a training programme for Bahamians to learn practical skills in agriculture and marine sciences. Just last week BAMSI had its first graduation ceremony where 23 students graduated with associate degrees or certificates from various programs. These 23 Bahamians now have valuable skills and knowledge they can build on for meaningful employment or to gain additional higher education credentials. I am so proud of all of these students and can’t wait for the next cohort.

Our Government is committed to maximizing the success of BAMSI. As the University moves forward in advancing the implementation of its state-of-the-art Data Management System on all campuses in New Providence, Grand Bahama, San Salvador, and Exuma, it would be most opportune and financially prudent that the same administrative system be expanded to include the BAMSI Campus.   This will allow for a 21st century financial administration system; academic data-base management, and online student registration, just to name a few, at the BAMSI campus.   The time has come for the incorporation of BAMSI into what will be the national University System.

The autonomous management of these campuses will remain intact and encouraged through devolution of authority.  However, the University will maximize the use of shared resources for all of its campuses throughout the country.  The National University System will become a reality.

How we got here

The University of The Bahamas – by linking education, training and research to the requirements for sustainable national development – will become an entrenched and uniquely valuable institution that supports the needs of our society, and the future that our community strives to be.

This institution must be one that preserves the critical truth-telling role of a national academy. National universities around the world are places of critical, intellectual reflection on the lived experiences forming their national context and instruments for improving the lives of citizens.

The development goal of building a national university, which combines excellence in teaching with quality research, the deployment of its intellectual expertise in solving problems, the creation of new knowledge and service to the community, is essential to building sustainable national development and a stronger and more modern Bahamas.

Though the dream of a national university was alive at the inception of the College in 1974, systematic university-transition planning began in 2002.  Over the course of 14 years, university-transition planning has gone through different phases. The most recent phase has been organized around two basic strategies.

The strategies

The first strategy is that The College of The Bahamas (COB) already has sufficient attributes of a university to be called a university. Some of these attributes include:

  1. The number of students enrolled at the College in undergraduate programmes;
  2. The majority of students at COB are graduating with bachelor degrees – 70% of 2014/2015 graduates earned a bachelor’s degree;
  3. The quality of the programmes and the excellence that has been achieved in teaching – COB offers more than 60 programmes across a broad range of discipline;
  4. The progress that is being made in building graduate programmes; and
  5. The increasing productivity that the College has demonstrated in research and publication output.

The second, broader strategy takes as its starting point that the College has been working on the transition for a long time and that, once the Bill to establish the University of The Bahamas has been passed, the university-transition process will not come to an end. This long-term, evolutionary strategy involves understanding that improving the quality of the services for our students and enhancing the student-life experience is a continuous process. There is a lot of room for improvement in the student experience.

The College is enhancing and developing the facilities at the soon-to-be university so that a greater sense of place on campus is generated amongst faculty, students and staff in order to create a greater sense of belonging on campus within a living and learning environment. They are doing this by:

  • Building of the residence facilities at the College’s Northern Campus, and planning for the same in Oakes Field Campus
  • Working towards a new student services centre
  • Investing in technological upgrades and hardware to modernize their systems and bolster productivity and learning

The college also recognizes the need to boost administrative efficiency through the strengthening of administrative capacity at the University.   To address this, the College is:

  • Transitioning to the Banner enterprise resource planning system by Ellucian to deliver better service and better educational outcomes for students
  • Making improvements to administrative information sharing and enhancing workflow operations

These initiatives are a result of the understanding that there is a deep connection between creating a sense of belonging on campus and levels of student, faculty and staff productivity; thus, the need to ensure that the attention that is paid to human-resource development at the University is met with a simultaneous commitment to improving its facilities. To this end, COB’s leadership fundamentally believe (and I agree with their assessment) that by establishing the University, funding opportunities will be generated to assist in paying for the needed improvements.

Both the short-term and long-term strategies, of which I speak, have been tied to the tremendous amount of energy and time that both the College and the government has spent over the last 14 years planning the transition. Mr. Speaker, permit me now to provide a more detailed, historical account of the planning and consultative process involved in the university-transition process.

Historical background and the consultative process

In 2002, The College of The Bahamas was tasked with preparing itself to become a university by 2007. Our Government at the time, led by our current Prime Minister, introduced a multitude of initiatives designed to ready the institution for the change in status. This culminated in August 2006 with the Council of The College of The Bahamas establishing an Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on Governance. The mandate of that committee was to propose the legislative framework for The University of The Bahamas. The Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on Governance Report (The Keva Bethel Report) was submitted in June, 2007.

In 2012 as the new Minister of Education under a Perry Christie led government, the movement towards university status was given a fresh injection of energy through another mandate of the Government to ready the College to becoming a university; thus, in July of the same year, the Council of The College of The Bahamas, under the sterling leadership of its Chairman, Mr. Alfred Sears, former Minister of Education (2002-2007) appointed a University Transition Secretariat (UTS).

Over a course of 15 months, UTS coordinated a consultative and deliberative process driven by faculty, in which faculty, staff, students, parents, administrators, alumni, community partners and education partners gave unstintingly of their time. The work of UTS was guided by UTS’s understanding of the core functions of a university: Governance, Teaching and Learning, Research, and Service/Socialization and Institutional Sustainability. Each of these core functions served as the basis of organizing Working Groups focused on envisioning what would be needed to operationalize each core function in the context of a Bahamian university. To this end, the Working Groups examined evidence and reflected on best practices at other institutions.

After hosting a series of convocations on the core areas of the University, the stakeholder-led Working Groups shared their findings with UTS. This process supplemented information being gathered by UTS through its conversations and discussions with internal and external stakeholders and international higher-education experts. UTS also canvassed the Bahamian Diaspora and undertook good practice tours of certain universities in the Caribbean, the United States, United Kingdom, Finland and South Africa.

Other sources of feedback for UTS came from consultations undertaken on Abaco, North and Central Andros, South Andros, Cat Island, Grand Bahama, Long Island, Inagua, Exuma and Eleuthera. On these islands, a wide array of Family Islanders were consulted, including Administrators, Chief Councilors, Council members, business operators, tourism workers; high school students, teachers and staff; and continuing education and extension services representatives.

Supported by submissions from faculty members, the UTS presented its report to the Council of the College in October 2013. The report represented the culmination of consultative work directed at fashioning a national university, and it provided the framework for assembling a road map for the establishment of the University of The Bahamas. The UTS Report also assimilated the knowledge contained in the Keva Bethel Report (2006) and the Final Report of the Task Force on Academic Quality Assurance (2008). 

After receiving the UTS Report in 2013, the Council commissioned a team of rapporteurs from the ranks of senior faculty members to articulate a response to it. The rapporteurs reviewed the UTS Report and extracted salient points relative to the UTS mandate. The Report of the Rapporteurs provided responses to the UTS recommendations and, at the same time, specified those UTS recommendations that could be deemed critical to the establishment of the University.

In response to the Report of the Rapporteurs, the Council of The College of The Bahamas convened an all-day retreat of Council members, senior administrators and internal stakeholders in January of 2014 focused on generating a Road Map for the University of The Bahamas and the formation of a consensus around core concerns.

In late 2014, an internal drafting team was appointed by the Council to work with the Office of the Attorney General to draft the University of The Bahamas Bill (the UB Bill) based on the entire history of prior consultation, and in March of 2015, after consultation with stakeholders, the entire campus community was presented with an electronic version of a draft Bill. The College Council then requested further consultative talks take place to elicit further feedback on the Bill. After further meetings with stakeholder groups, a third draft of the Bill was presented to Council and internal stakeholder groups in September 2015.  On October 16th, 2015, the College Council was presented with a faculty union petition calling for further stakeholder consultations.  Following this petition, a general stakeholder meeting was convened on January 14th, 2016, to document further concerns, which was then followed by a Council retreat on January 30th, 2016, at which presentations from representatives of all of the internal stakeholders on various aspects of the UB Bill were delivered.

During the months of February and March, of 2016, Council met several times to review and amend the Bill. Each amendment made by Council to the UB Bill reflected a consensus position taken by Council. On March 14th, 2016, Council concluded its deliberations on the Bill. It was then sent to the Law Revision and Reform Commission for their technical input. Before the Bill was sent to me for onward submission to Cabinet, Council was given a final opportunity to review the Bill during the week of the 28th of March, with the instruction that, if no objections were received by Council Members by the close of business day on the 31st of March, 2016, the Bill would be forwarded to the Minister of Education. No objections were received, and the Bill was forwarded to me on April 4th and then released to the internal stakeholders on April 7th in the interest of transparency.

I tabled the Bill in this Parliament on May 25, 2016 which brings us to today, continuing to push forward in our promise of making the College of The Bahamas the University of The Bahamas. Mr. Speaker, our government is building a stronger and more modern Bahamas.

The question of cost

The costs associated with all the steps noted above, which began as long ago as 2002 when the Government tasked the College to become a university, have been absorbed incrementally by the College over time; much of it paid through the generosity of people within the College and the friends of the College in the wider community giving freely of their time and expertise in the service of wanting to build a national university by serving on many a task force and special committee. Furthermore, the work towards becoming a university has been made possible mainly by public funds, in the form of the annual subvention approved by Parliament on behalf of the Bahamian citizenry, which has enabled the College of The Bahamas to thrive since 1974.

The importance of understanding that planning for the University and building the human resource capacity of the College started a long time ago should not be underestimated. It would be inaccurate and artificial to segregate all of the public funding and private giving that has already been injected into the College, to assist with its existence, development, and march to university status, from all the money that will be necessary for the University to become the symbol of national pride it is capable of becoming with adequate resources, once the UB Bill has been enacted.

The College’s transition towards university status has been an organic process, Mr. Speaker, but woven into that process has been systematic decisions taken to advance the university-transition process.   For example, those former decision-makers at COB and in the Government, who saw the wisdom of funding faculty members to gain terminal degrees, had the vision of the university they wanted to create. University-transition plans called for increasing the number of Bahamian faculty members with doctorate degrees. Similarly, Harry C. Moore’s decision to help fund the construction of the Harry C. Moore Library and Information Centre, when he was approached to do so, was taken because a university needs an excellent library and because COB university-transition planning called for it.

The construction of the new entrance for the University is consistent with the recommendation of the architects and planners who were commissioned by the Council of the College to produce a Master Plan for the University of The Bahamas. The Master Plan 2013-2025 is presently guiding decision-making in relation to the capital projects expansion of the University. Consistent with that Master Plan, are the advances that have been made to construct residence halls at the College’s Northern Bahamas Campus and at Oakes Field. Mr. Speaker, residence halls will serve as hubs of student life on campus; they will positively transform the student experience at the College. The recent acquisition of the Ellucian Banner Solution, a data management system for higher education institutions, will allow audits of the academy to be completed in a timely manner. These developments are just a few examples of the systematic thought that has gone into the College’s march towards university status.

Funding will be needed for the long-term advancement of the University of The Bahamas after the UB Bill is enacted, Mr. Speaker. No university was ever established fully formed.  Improvements will take place systematically according to the strategic priorities of the University as funding becomes available. An aggressive quality-assurance programme, to ensure that the University meets accreditation standards, will guide the strategic priorities of the university.

The university is not a static object. It is a dynamic setting that demands intellectual responsiveness and ongoing development. To meet the immediate priorities of the University, financial sustainability plans – directed at diversifying revenue sources through entrepreneurial activity, advisory services, and expanding university endowments and research grant funding – are being implemented. Once established, the University will also launch an aggressive capital projects campaign.

The Bill

Turning to the Bill itself, I would like to assure my Parliamentary colleagues that the Bill represents extensive input from internal stakeholders at the College, the College Council, and the Law Revision and Reform Commission. I maintain unreservedly that it creates a sound legislative framework for the University in the following ways:

Shared Governance  

Under the Bill, the internal stakeholder voice on the principal governing body of the University, the Board of Trustees (the Board), will increase substantially relative to the internal stakeholder voice on the existing Council. Faculty will have two representatives on Council compared to the one (the President of UTEB) presently allowed under the College of The Bahamas Act. Staff, through its elected representative, will have a vote on the Board (currently, the staff representative position on Council is non-voting); and alumni representation on the Board will also increase. The Bill also creates a mechanism for substantial external stakeholder participation in the work of the governing board of the University by providing for the possible appointment of ten (10) persons to the Board who will represent various sectors of civil society.  The Government will be represented by one appointee each from the Prime Minister, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance respectively. In a mature demonstration of political bipartisanship, the Leader of the Opposition shall also appoint one person to the Board.

Autonomy

As the College progressed, from its inception in 1974 as fledgling community college, to a college offering bachelor degrees and to one seriously pursuing a research mandate, it was granted greater autonomy. Under the College of The Bahamas Act, 1974, the Minister had unfettered discretion to give directions to the Council with respect to the exercise of its functions under the Act, along with the power to fix fees and charges for courses of study, facilities and other services provided by the College. Furthermore, all expenditure of the College was subject to prior written approval of the Minister of Finance. In addition, under the 1974 Act, the majority of appointees to the Council were made at the discretion of the Minister of Education.

Parliament granted the College greater autonomy in 1995. Under the 1995 COB Act, the Minister was restricted from giving general or specific directions in relation to the appointment, termination of appointment, promotion or discipline of any member of faculty. The 1995 Act also restricted the Minister from giving directions to Council with respect to the evaluation, discipline, academic promotion, certification, or award of any student, and the power of the Minister to appoint Council Members was transferred to the Governor General. As for the Minister of Finance’s financial control over the institution, the 1995 Act removed the requirement that the Minister of Finance first approve all expenditures of the College in writing.

The present Bill before the House provides for even greater autonomy, as it should. This is in keeping with the historical trajectory of the College towards greater autonomy and global best practices in the governance of public universities and accreditation requirements. In this regard, please note that the present Council of the College is comprised of 11 Council members; of whom, seven (7) are appointed by the Government. Under the present Bill before the House, 4 trustees will be appointed by public officials; namely, the Prime Minister, the Minister responsible for finance, the Minister responsible for education, and the Leader of the Opposition, which means that the composition of the Board will be weighted in favour of the internal stakeholders and external civil society stakeholders. Furthermore, the power of the Minister responsible for education to give general directions as to the policy to be followed by the Council has not been carried over into the Bill.

University autonomy is consistent with the requirements of academic freedom, accreditation and what it means to be considered a progressive higher-education institution.

Distribution of authority

To increase efficiency and internal stakeholder engagement in governance, it is proposed under the Bill that the academic authority of the University be reposed in an Academic Senate. This will mean that some of Council ‘s existing academic authority will become shared between the Senate and the Board of Trustees. The Bill also reduces considerably the number of times the principal governing body will meet in any given year, and will allow much of the work of the Board to be delegated to standing committees of the Board. Though the Board will be the principal governing body of the University, the combination of these changes, it is hoped in time, will reduce the involvement of the principal governing body in the day-to-day affairs of the University; thus, allowing it to focus on overseeing and monitoring the broad strategies and policies of the University. It is also hoped, through the proposed restructuring of authority brought about by the Bill, that the role of the unions in the University will become more defined and their authority more clearly delineated and constrained in keeping with their primary function – that of representing their constituencies in collective bargaining processes and compliance matters.

Accountability 

It is anticipated that the University will be used to advance the national development agenda. Given this important mission, along with the fact that an important source of revenue for the University will remain public funding, the public has an interest in seeing that the University fulfills its national development mandate and uses its resources in a fit and proper manner. To this end, the UB Bill will enable 10 trustees to serve on the Board drawn from various sectors of civil society and will require that audited and annual reports of the University be tabled each year in Parliament.   The presence of four government appointees on the Board will also serve the function of public accountability.

Conclusion

Mr. Speaker, let me conclude by saying that having a national university is extremely important for any country, to develop and retain talented and committed young persons to contribute to nation-building. It really goes to the heart of what it means to be a sovereign nation.

The archipelago of The Bahamas is challenged in a myriad of ways. We know where we are strong and we know where we are weak. We’ve all heard the phrase before that “knowledge is power.” Well with lives grounded in knowledge, all persons have the power to change their circumstances. We need to embrace a culture of learning in order to allow us to rise above, despite the circumstances we may have been dealt in life.  Self-knowledge connects us to ourselves in ways that allow us to change ourselves and thus our condition.

If knowledge about our country or our local condition is not rooted and generated in our own educational institutions, there will always be the risk of our people being disconnected from it. And a people disconnected from knowledge will always face difficulties using that knowledge for transformational purposes. This does not mean that we must not build on the knowledge of our global partners, take advantage of opportunities for advancement outside our borders or work with external agencies and institutions to work out solutions. We must, however, move with urgency to a place where we generate knowledge about ourselves that connects us more intimately to the knowledge that is needed to bring about the social change that is required right here at home.

It is my belief that a national university, as envisaged in the establishment and development of the University of The Bahamas, committed to the task of generating and disseminating local knowledge will begin to inspire Bahamians to change their own condition in ways that will allow them to own it and thereby change it.

Before I close I want to thank all the stakeholders who were involved and supported this process to University status and indeed those who built the foundation upon which this Bill stands today. They are too many to name but they know who they are. Some are still alive to witness and many have gone on to their eternal resting place, but their spirits are with us and they too are dancing in heaven.

I want to thank by colleagues for their total and absolute support for me and our education agenda.

Most importantly, I want to thank the Rt. Honourable Prime Minister for his vision and the political will and courage to see it through. History will be kind to him when one examines the advancement of education under his watch.

Our Nation must ensure the success of the University of The Bahamas. As with all great nations that have at least one great university, our University holds the promise of becoming the engine of our intellectual community, the generator of Bahamian knowledge grounded in critical self-reflection in a Bahamian academy and, thus, one of the keys to building a Stronger, more modern, and more united Bahamas.

I commend the Bill to this honourable House for its second reading and passage.

Thank you.

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