No child to be left behind, says ministerMonday, September 06, 2021
BY ALPHEA SUMNER
Education Minister Fayval Williams has promised to intensify efforts to reach students who the ministry did not make contact with last year after the novel coronavirus pandemic forced school doors shut.
The ministry had rolled out a summer school programme in July and August, mainly to target approximately 120,000 children whom it said had been unreachable over the past more than one and a half years of virtual and audiovisual learning.
“We must remain true to our mission of not leaving any child behind,” Williams stressed in a national broadcast last night, hours ahead of the official start of the 2021-22 academic year.
Students will return to online modalities as the sharp rise in novel coronavirus cases across the island has again beaten back any intent to return to face-to-face learning.
“For this school year we have added audio learning apps that can be downloaded on your phones wherever you, our students, are located. We also launched two 24-hour television channels — one for our primary school students and the other for our secondary schools. Live and recorded lessons will be available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Even if you only have a rabbit ear television, you can access our 24-hour television channels,” Williams outlined.
She said this year children and teachers will have access to more devices and urged both stakeholder groups to leverage the technology skills gained during the last school year, to proceed more confidently with the curriculum on digital platforms
The Government, Williams added, would continue with the initiatives started in the last school year to provide more students with digital devices.
“While we work to eliminate the digital divide in terms of access to improved connectivity [and] affordable data plans, we are tackling the various other inequities in our education sector, the most serious being the gap between those students who are high-performing or high-achieving and those who are not,” she said.
Williams said the Government also plans to use more specialist subject teachers with an emphasis on mathematics and English language.
“In our near future, gone will be the days of one teacher in a primary school classroom teaching all subjects. This is one of our flagship initiatives this school year and we expect it to significantly raise the level of mathematics and English language knowledge in our primary schools,” she said.
Additionally the advised that students who completed grade 11 in the last academic year and are not enrolled for the traditional Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) curriculum are now entitled to admission to one of the new sixth form pathway programmes to pursue a two-year programme of study.
The education minister also said all grade four students will be assessed for general development and behaviour, and early learning in literacy and numeracy will be done annually at all early childhood institutions.
She said a sustained good parenting campaign is to be launched to help parents eliminate corporal punishment in the home and in public spaces.
“We want to significantly reduce the more than 1,200 reports per month of child abuse that come to the Child Protection and Family Services Agency,” Williams told the nation.