Education misery continues
26 per cent of school population still not showing up for online classesWednesday, October 13, 2021
One year after the education ministry launched virtual learning , and five months shy of two years since public school doors closed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, about 26 per cent of the school population is still not showing up online for classes, the education ministry revealed yesterday.
Furthermore, only 25,000 of the 120,000 students who the ministry said it has not been able to make contact with since last March turned up for the remedial programme which it put in place during the summer break this year. The ministry says it contacted a total of 45,000 of the 120,000.
The framework for a $95-million, “yard-to-yard” programme to track down these students and provide the requisite support to enable them to return to classes is still being developed, Permanent Secretary Dr Grace McLean old the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) yesterday. Personnel trained by the ministry are expected to start making community interventions, by mid-November, to find these students.
The yard-to-yard initiative falls under a wider school learning intervention plan that included the summer school programme in July and August, which managed to engage only 80,000 out of the school population of 413,000 students.
Acting Education Officer Dr Kasan Troupe has also advised that since the virtual resumption of classes over the past five weeks, the ministry has not been able to ascertain exactly how many of the 120,000 students of concern have returned.
“The general feedback is that some of those students are still not back, but we have not been able to put that entire portfolio together to get a specific look at those 120,000,” she said.
The disclosure comes a day after Opposition spokeswoman on education Dr Angela Brown Burke issued an urgent a call for schools to reopen for face-to-face learning, and for the education ministry to outline a clear strategy for how this will be done. She argued that the Government was sitting on its hands awaiting a vaccine for students under 12 in order to resume physical classes, but that something needs to be done immediately to stem the worsening learning loss.
Dr Troupe said 56 per cent of the school population had reported for classes across platforms in the first week of the new academic year, and this had moved by 10 per cent during the second week. Still, as high as 33 per cent of students across some regions remain unengaged, according to the ministry. She said the absentee data for Kingston and St Andrew, which accounts for 97,000 or the largest number of students by region, is worrisome.
She explained that 600 schools are being targeted for intervention, to track down the students who remain out of the system.