Learning at home requires Internet access

Letters to the Editor

Learning at home requires Internet access

Thursday, March 12, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Educational institutions across Jamaica have begun to exercise caution and protective measures to ensure the safety of stakeholders during a possible outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). One area of concern, however, is how best can students access learning materials via Internet services if schools were to close down for a period of time.

We are aware that the Government through the governor general can invoke emergency powers by proclamation via subsection (4) of section 26 of the Constitution of Jamaica, which is issued upon the governor general being satisfied:

(U) that a public emergency has arisen as a result of the occurrence of any earthquake, hurricane, flood, fire, outbreak of pestilence, outbreak of infectious disease, or other calamity whether similar to the foregoing...”

If we are to treat COVID-19 under the designation of “outbreak of pestilence, outbreak of infectious disease” then, with the closure of educational institutions, the Government needs to consider the availability of free Internet access, especially for those who are unable to afford the service.

One way is to ensure this is where The Emergency Powers Act says “duties as the governor general may deem necessary or expedient for the preservation of the peace, for securing and regulating the supply and distribution of food, water, fuel, light, and other necessities...” The word “necessities” should include our Internet providers enabling access via special codes issued from the educational institutions.

I am inviting the ministries of education along with science and technology to consider these provisions to facilitate learning from home, as we seek to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 with less human contact.

Dudley C McLean II

Mandeville Manchester


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