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Bahamas May Be ‘Failed State Within 10 Years’

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamas risks becoming “a failed state in less than 10 years” because around 70 per cent of its population “will be challenged” to obtain well-paying jobs due to educational under-achievement.

A newly-formed civil society group, the Organisation for Responsible Governance (ORG), warns that this “educational imbalance” has created an unhealthy ‘wealth gap’ in Bahamian society.

Its position paper on the issue, released on Friday, warns that a largely “semi-literate and semi-numerate” Bahamian workforce lacks upward mobility, while undermining productivity and restricting gross domestic product (economic) growth.

Based on 2012 BGCSE data, the ORG said that just 1,281 out of 7,117 students tested, achieved ‘A’ or ‘B’ grades.

This, it warned, translated into just 18 per cent of high school leavers being suitably qualified for higher education.

And, with the ‘brain drain’ stemming from a lack of economic opportunity at home, the ORG position paper added that this further undermined the prospects for “sustaining strong economic growth”.

The ORG position paper has been released ahead of the organisation’s planned ‘launch’ at a March 17 ‘think-tank’ conference at the British Colonial Hilton.

Its goals include a fundamental overhaul of the way the Bahamas is governed, as it believes “systemic weaknesses” in this area are now causing this nation to its competitiveness and economic standing in the world.

Tribune Business understands that ORG’s founders include several well-known Bahamian businessmen, including former Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) heads, Robert Myers and Dionisio D’Aguilar.

Mr Myers focused heavily on ways to address the Bahamas’ education deficiencies while at the Chamber, so it is perhaps little surprise that the ORG plans to take up the issue.

Based on the 2012 BGCSE data, the ORG’s position paper said 3,986 or 56 per cent of the candidates tested “lack cognitive skills and suitability for general employment” because they obtained ‘D’ grades or less.

And, adding in the 1,892 difference between the number of students who sat BJCs and BGCSEs, the ORG paper said 5,877 - or 65 per cent - of annual high school leavers were “challenged to obtain middle income employment”.

This means that close to seven out of every 10 Bahamians leave mandatory education without the skills necessary to fully participate in the global economy. And less than one in five Bahamians are capable of going on to a college degree.

It added that the picture would likely be far worse if the Bahamas’ private schools were separated from their public counterparts, as the former accounts for 10,000 or just 18 per cent of students.

“The data above would indicate that around 70 per cent of persons reaching 18 years of age will be challenged to attain college diplomas, certificates in higher learning and/or any executive or senior management position in the job market,” the ORG position paper said.

“This likely precludes this group from middle to high income employment earning potential, and leaves them with middle to low income opportunities and/or, unfortunately, higher earning criminal activities.

“This significant educational imbalance has created an education gap that has led to a wealth gap that is not healthy in any society.”

Employers were also largely unable to provide any promotion opportunities to semi-literate staff, and the ORG added: “This phenomenon seriously hinders the normal socio-economic growth and development of the nation, limits business growth and results in limited national gross domestic product (GDP) outputs.

“Businesses are challenged to try and train the very people the education system has failed to educate properly during their 12 years in the school system.

“Ostensibly, this educational phenomenon has produced an undereducated work force that has hurt, and continues to hurt, GDP growth. This educational dilemma is one of the more significant contributing factors to the socio-economic hardships (crime and unemployment) now being felt.”

The ORG paper added that given the Bahamas’ relative lack of natural resources, it did not have major manufacturing and agriculture industries capable of absorbing illiterate and semi-literate workers on a large scale.

And, with many Bahamians declining to work in manual labour, “ industries like construction and farming are challenged to find Bahamians that will consistently show up to work, and who are productive at a globally competitive level”.

The ORG paper said the Bahamas’ problems were being exacerbated by the ‘brain drain’, as talented Bahamians sought more lucrative, diverse opportunities abroad after completing their college education.

“The brain drain makes it that much harder for economic growth and recovery, as many of the top 18 per cent of students with A’s and B’s that sought higher education do not return to the Bahamas,” the report said.

“The 18 per cent ‘A &B’ grade is already too low to sustain strong economic growth and so by losing any portion of these skilled Bahamians to other countries, the Bahamian economy continues to suffer.”

All this, the ORG said, forces Bahamian businesses to increasingly look abroad for the executive and middle management talent necessary to grow their companies.

“The cost of work permits, the burden of obtaining them and the restrictive issuance of them, hinders and discourages businesses from expanding, thus reducing GDP growth, increasing the cost of doing business and negatively impacting the ease of doing business,” the position paper said.

“While the work permit policy may be good for politics, given the current high unemployment levels, it negatively impacts Bahamian GDP growth.

“Simply put, the Bahamas must adopt an immigration policy that provides a concurrent plan; one, to allow businesses to bring in educated lower, middle and upper management that then provides businesses the ability to grow and hire more undereducated Bahamians and, two, to provide the incentives and initiatives that will improve the education level at all levels over the short, medium and long-term.”

To cure the problem, the ORG called for apprenticeship programmes to be inserted into the high school curriculum for grades 10 through to 12.

It also suggested tax breaks and work permit fee discounts for companies that offered their Bahamian staff apprenticeship programmes and other “higher learning opportunities”.

Urging the Bahamas to break with the education policies of the past, the ORG warned that failing to tackle the problem would result in sustained high crime and unemployment levels.

Workforce productivity, and the Bahamas’ economic competitiveness, will also be undermined.

“The educational divide will continue to cause socio-economic problems for the Bahamas until its importance and interconnectivity into the greater economy is understood and addressed on a macro level,” the ORG paper said.

“With such a large percentage of the populous falling into the undereducated category for the last 30 years, it is not surprising that the socio-economic condition is deteriorating.

“Crime and unemployment are not core problems but, rather, symptoms of core problems that have not been adequately addressed for decades.”

It concluded: “Based on a number of socio-economic indicators, it is evident that no government over the last 30 years has resolved the socio-economic disorders.

“Education, crime, unemployment, government debt, government services and efficiency, taxes, the cost of doing business, ease of doing business and GDP growth have all remain flat or lost ground.

“The status quo must change or, at the current rate, the Bahamas will become a failed state in less than 10 years.”

Comments

sheeprunner12 3 years, 2 months ago

The Bahamas suffers from one major problem: Underachievement ........ everything stems from that ............. this goes back to slave productivity on the plantation

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SP 3 years, 2 months ago

... "No government over the last 30 years has resolved the socio-economic disorders ...

“The status quo must change or, at the current rate, the Bahamas will become a failed state in less than 10 years.”

What's wrong with Bahamians? Our country is going to hell in a hand basket right before our eyes, and Bahamians are plodding along with eyes wide shut!

Pray tell WHY anyone with any semblance of common sense are remotely interested in supporting the PLP and FNM? They shouldn't even be a consideration! WE should be seriously looking at alternative solutions to governance.

Just how stupid are our people going to be?

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Publius 3 years, 2 months ago

So this report essentially rationalizes the need for more foreign workers while at the same time providing no tangible solutions to the core problems raised. Good job.

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John 3 years, 2 months ago

Let me say this: Myles Munroe prophesies are not dead. Don't worry about the time stamp he put on it (July 2014-July 2015) Those who have eyes let them see.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 2 months ago

Whatever happened to comparing us with Singapore ........ hey SLOP????? ....... wonder if the GG, Perry etc remembered that?????? ............. that's the PLP legacy

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John 3 years, 2 months ago

These people are so crooked and deceptive. They trying to tell you an "18-20% A & B average is not sustainable". But when you check worldwide this is the norm. And their reason for this whole article is so clear. They want tax breaks and work permit discounts to bring in more foreign workers and justifying their need to do this by disqualifying Bahamians as dumb and uneducatated and hence unemployable. Those (foreigners) who plan to t'ief the Bahamas and those (Bahamians) who are accommodating them have the shock and surprise of their lives coming. Watch what going to happen from referendum day to Election Day ...amen

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birdiestrachan 3 years, 2 months ago

I do not believe a word those people have to say they are no prophets, and they do not care about the Bahamian people. I for one know a many very intelligent educated hard working Bahamians. This article is a insult to all right thinking Bahamians.

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birdiestrachan 3 years, 2 months ago

D'Aguilar said he can not find any Bahamians to manage his wash houses. They can wash there though, and he became offended when they stop buying his over price washing powder. Buy a tub and a wash board. until you can afford a washing machine . then he will know exactly how smart Bahamians are . Failed state.? The God we serve is still on the throne and his name is not Meyers or D;Aguilar. They do not care about the Bahamian people.

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Fitmiss 3 years, 2 months ago

I have a Bachelor's degree in Education as well as my MBA. The only time Baha Mar even bothered to contact me, was when I applied for a position via a link the American university I obtained my MBA from sent me. Don't get me wrong, I am glad they didn't follow up after I told them I lived on an Out Island and needed a few days to arrange my travel to Nassau. I know what it is like as an educator to see students fail, but I know what it is as a qualified person when your credentials are overlooked ( I have applied to BTC, and other private and government facilities). I personally feel we grant more of an advantage to foreigners in some regards. I pray that when we do come across qualified Bahamian professionals, we at least interview them first before we get the work permits signed to bring in someone else. Nonetheless I am blessed to be gainfully employed in the meanwhile.

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SP 3 years, 2 months ago

You just reach Aye! Bahamians are at the bottom of the totem pole!

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BahamaPundit 3 years, 2 months ago

This is a good post, because it is on target. From my experience, there are many more qualified Bahamians than jobs available for them to fill. Sure, there are droves of uneducated, but every society has them. What concerns me about the Bahamas is that you can have a BA, Masters and higher and still have to scrounge for a job at base pay. There simply are not enough jobs on this rock period. In my view, education is not the issue.

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banker 3 years, 2 months ago

There are industries other than manufacturing that can absorb and employ several thousand semi-literate and semi-numerate Bahamian employees. It would take a few million dollars (less than what the government spends on Carnival) to build the infrastructure to create these jobs, but no one has the vision to determine what these jobs are, or how to set up for them. All that the PLP can see with the tunnel vision out of their rectums, is lowly tourism jobs of bed-making and baggage handling.

We could have a workforce that would take away jobs from the Philippines or Malaysia and pay a decent wage to Bahamian workers, in a clean tech setting that the workers would enjoy.

Simply reading WIRED magazine will give you an idea of what these jobs could be. (No, it's not call centers, although they would work as well.) The advantage is that the Bahamians could learn to speak proper English faster than the Filipinos. (Bahamian patois is not an acceptable language of business).

Building these economic segments is like sowing seeds. Businesses arise to support these workers, and soon enough you will have full technology parks like the ones in Jamaica that are taking Bahamian banking call center jobs away from us.

There are answers to the conundrum of generations of poorly educated Bahamians. They are employable in large numbers within the resource limitations of the Bahamas. However, no one wants to think outside the box, and actually make the conditions to put Bahamians to work.

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BaronInvest 3 years, 2 months ago

Interesting... you know i am waiting on the work permit for a year now. This is exactly the point here - noone gives a shit and those in charge don't see that they are shooting themself into foot by slowing things down or being so hostile about giving foreigners a work permit. As you mentioned call centers, we just hired a few hundred people elsewhere - because The Bahamas apparently didn't want those jobs. I would prefer having the call center here, no instead i have those travel costs but you know what - no bad harm here...

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John 3 years, 2 months ago

@ banker you continue write about Bahamians in that condescending and snobbish way and under the pretence that thou are defending them. And by the way there is no such thing as Bahamian patois (except in your mind and that of your shadow). Yes it is a fact that the Bahamas has a brain drain of Bahamians. The best and the brightest have left, some wowing to never return to the Bahamas. Some do not return for lack of opportunities for themselves and their children. But guess what? There is a generation of these Bahamians that will return. They will be well educated, well exposed, experienced and disciplined. And they will return to rescue this country and stop the looting and selling out that has been going on for generations. These Will not be Bahamians with political aspirations, but religious leaders, educators, doctors ,engineers , and even athletes. There is no such thing as an illiterate or innumerate Bahamian. Some may take more time to educate and others see no purpose in what they are being taught. Many young men have been brainwashed to believe it is effeminate to be well educated or have an office job. So they try to thug it out and unfortunate many end up on the wrong side of the law. That needs to be fixed but bringing in more foreign workers is not the solution.

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John 3 years, 2 months ago

A bridge to Andros is not a bad idea..how much fer it?

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banker 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm sorry that you don't like it and think that it is condescending when I call a spade a spade.

First there is a Bahamian patois, and it took me a couple of years to shake it, and I can still revert to it effortless.

"I een gern tell you how when I reach. Jess be known, dat I gots da powa ta do so".

Secondly, I do not believe that there is a generation of Bahamians that will return. I know of a Bahamian who is an MIT grad, programming copmuters for an insurance company at forty-something thousand a year. An MIT grad in the US can start as high as 90-100K per annum. Why should I return to have my children educated by second class educators, and live in Third World unsafe squalor?

Unless you have lived abroad, you don't know how dysfunctional life is here. You don't know how deprived and un-rich existence is on these islands. It is a cultural desert compared to Miami, Toronto, Houston or Boston.

And because you are normalised to it, you do not see how parochial and uneducated the bulk of the Bahamian population is. I disagree with your assessment that many Bahamian men think it is effeminate to hold an office job. When I play basketball with my friends who are either unemployed or work at menial jobs, they always are looking for an edge to get a better paying job -- especially an office job.

The rescue of the country will not happen from afar. It has to happen from within. Being employed by a foreign and traveling extensively gives one perspective and benchmark to evaluate Bahamian life at home. It is severely found wanting.

Some people just don't like it when a mirror is held up to them, to destroy their cherished self-delusions.

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John 3 years, 2 months ago

@banker: I am willing to bet handsomely you are not Bahamian, at least not a raw born one. What you quoted as Bahamian slang looks like Greek to me. The fact is As the true wealth of the Bahamas becomes known, more and foreigners are lining up to wrap their greasy paws on it. Of course part of their plan is to disenfranchise Bahamians and so they come here in coat suits and with empty brief cases. ..to tote the loot away. They not only want to t'ief and hoard Bahamian land, but they have engaged in the habit of belittling Bahamians, like you banker, calling them dumb and stupid. Of course if things were so much better in the countries from whence they came, or the people much better than Bahamians, they would never have ventured here. They drive the prices of property up and beyond the reach of Bahamians, they block all access to beaches and they devalue the true worth of Bahamians. And, unfortunately, many of our leaders, either out of greed or in ignorance, accommodate and aid them. I stand by my conviction that many young Bahamians and descendants of Bahamians are becoming aware of what is going on of the Bahamas and they will put an end to it..sooner than you think. You call the Bahamas a place of "Third World unsafe squalor", yet you are still here, hypocrite? .Some people just don't like it when a mirror is held up to them, to destroy their cherished self-delusions.
. Some people don't like when people keep telling then how bad and backward their country is and belittling their people(Bahamians) in every which way, but yet they would even resist being deported. They never had it so good.

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butlers 3 years, 2 months ago

Banker, I'm a seventh generation Bahamian and I totally agree with your assessment. We Bahamians need to face the facts and the truth and fight for change.

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banker 3 years, 2 months ago

I bear one of the names of the 22 foundation names of the Black community of the Bahamas. I don't know how many generations of my ancestors are/were Bahamian. When I stood up for the Haitians, I was accused of being a Haitian. Because I dare point out the severe problems, and burst a rose-coloured glasses view of the Bahamas, I am not a Bahamian.

But I guess I should know better. Someone who quotes the prophecies of Myles Munroe (except that he got the dates wrong, and few little other details) .. well that says it all about reasoning ability.

Bottom line -- there are solutions. They are not deus-ex-machina solutions like a cadre of expats coming to save the Bahamas.

Those seeds will be sown by a home-grown patriot.

And as for being a hypocrite -- my job requires me to be here -- part time at least. I have a residency card that permits me to work in another office in a more civilised place. When I travel, it becomes apparent that we Bahamians have settled for a smaller life -- and it p*sses me off.

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John 3 years, 2 months ago

The bottom is there can be no true Bahamas as long as the selected few continue to deny the masses (of Bahamians) their rights and privilidges of being BAHAMIAN. As long as they pander to greedy, racist and carpet bagging foreigners and give them more rights and opportunities than BAHAMIAN'S. When you hear about the commissioner and other high ranking police officers involved in cover ups and are consciously prosecuting individuals under false or trumped up charges. Young Bahamians abroad are not only gaining education and experience and exposure, but they are accumulating wealth. And when they return they will repossess the Beaches and other privileges taken away from Bahamians. The racists and Bahamian bashing foreigners will be invited to leave the country. Power will be taken away from those who were involved in selling out the country for peanuts and they will be made to account for the massive bloodshed, murder and carnage that has taken place in this country for more than a decade. This country has sufficient resources that no Bahamian should have to live in poverty and squalor or have their businesses taxed out of existence. The same Bahamian you , banker, are calling illiterate and innumerate coming fer he tings. And if you gat any, dog eat your lunch.. Legitimate investors and work permit holders need not worry. We will invite even more of them...nuff said!

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 2 months ago

I agree with banker .......... what is condescending is politicians telling the youth that they "can be what they want to be" ...... while screwing their future up with these stupid selfish political gimmicks designed only for their cronies and to win another election ...... no 18-30 year old should vote PLP

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John 3 years, 2 months ago

If you see Donald Trump win the presidential elections, you will see Bahamians leaving the United States and returning home like never before. Not only will the US be under threat of terrorists attacks, but The Trumps loose lips will put America under threat of an out right war. He will, of course, seek to strengthen his military power and most likely will re-introduce the draft. Many people will leave the country, not only for the fear of being attacked, but for not wanting their children or grand children to be drafted. His will weaken the US even more and make it more vulnerable but be a win,win situation for the Bahamas as their citizens are deported or voluntarily return home.

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Cainn 3 years, 2 months ago

Unlike the Bahamas there's no such things as a one man band in the US government. Have you failed to notice the few bahamian MPs and other officials that spews the same kind of rhetorics. No, our bahamian people are not coming back, because in the land of opportunity its not about who you know.

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fstyles612 3 years, 2 months ago

One cannot judge the future based on the grade point average of students. And whose to say that they won't become something better in the future? I didn't do well in all of my BGCSE's but I still went to college, my grades improved and I now have a consistent gpa between 3.50 and up. And even if someone doesn't go to college, they may end up starting their own business. Good grades only happen because of good studying habits or simply good memory. Grades don't determine one's ability. It only shows where one gave effort. If these kids really want something out of life and they believe that it's possible, they will get it! Don't judge how someone appears now, they may surprise you in the end. Our economy will only worsen if we keep telling students they need to go to college to get a good job. This type of thinking stifles creativity, which causes this 'brain drain' in society.

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butlers 3 years, 2 months ago

Does anyone else here remember when L.O. Pindling and his immigration policy deported most of the foreign teachers in an effort to provide Bahamian teachers with jobs. Many of our Bahamian teachers, while certainly deserving employment did not have the degrees and experience to properly educate our population. Look at the curriculum of Saint Augustin's, GHS, Queens College etc during the 60's and look at it know. Education is the key to the future in any country, we have failed our youth by not providing opportunities for basic education. The report states that only 18% of our graduates will qualify for higher education. True, However, out of the 18% that go off to College or University, how many will return to the Bahamas to contribute to society. Very few I assure you will return to a country of crime with no leadership and no future. Who, in there right mind would want to build a family and invest in a future in this Bahamas under these conditions?

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by butlers

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birdiestrachan 3 years, 2 months ago

John is correct there are many Bahamians living in America Who will tell you it is not good. especially if you are BLACK. It is funny that those who claim to be FNM educated (Banker) can not see that these men are insulting them. Note they are not leaving the Bahamas. and those they want to obtain permits for are dying to get here and they will have no plans to leave.

Bahamians many of them will return to the Bahamas , it is persons like Mr: Myers and the wash house owner who refuses to give them a chance with a decent pay. lkalik is what one would call a educated Palm Sunday cadalliac. along with a dirty mouth.

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Entrepreneur 3 years, 2 months ago

It's not just educational issues. It is also the banking system with a combination of excessive interest rates and often negligence or other wrong doing by the banks that perpetuates a system where Bahamians don't feel they can get ahead, and hence too many of our best want to leave...

After all, the allocation of capital in a civil society is the most important decision:-

Look at the public outcry over the Spicer case, which alleges very serious wrong doing by CIBC FCIB...

Just in a matter of days the Spicers have over 500 people pledging their support to the Spicers!!!

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ba...">http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ba...

Over 500 people... including people from all over the world, Canada, US, UK, etc.

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killemwitdakno 3 years ago

Who's tracking the course of this? What are the indicators being measured?

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