Dec 05, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – The Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, yesterday defended the conditional reopening of schools for face-to-face learning on the “Wakeup Guyana” radio programme on Kaieteur Radio.
On the programme, Manickchand addressed concerns that were raised about the reopening of schools, where she stated that most of those views were politically affiliated. She said that the former government had kept students disengaged and didn’t have a plan.
According to Manickchand, they didn’t train teachers to handle the pandemic, worksheets were not distributed and as long as COVID-19 remained, they had no intention of having school session.
The Education Minister lamented that it was important to keep students engaged.
She said that global research around the world proves that the longer you keep students away from school, the more learning loss they will suffer, which will most likely result in them dropping out. “We do not want to be a statistic,” Manickchand said.
Further, the Minister noted that keeping them disengaged might have a long-term impact the country might not be able to recover from.
Manickchand stressed that the government does not want the impact of COVID-19 in 2020 to be prevalent in 2040 and many persons disadvantaged by its effect can lead difficult lives in the future.
The decision to reopen schools was not only taken by the Education Ministry but they also consulted with the Ministry of Health (MOH), the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization. Schools reopened for grades 10, 11, 12 and Technical and Vocational Education students for face-to-face classes on November 9, after the Ministry of Health approved the conditional opening.
The physical reopening served to provide students with efficient teaching, so that they could complete their School-Based Assessments (SBAs) and Internal Assessments (IAs), in light of the 2021 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
Manickchand said that upon consultations with teachers and students, both parties were extremely concerned that they would not be prepared for CSEC and CAPE next year because there was a lack of face-to-face classes.
This she said had resulted in “black market learning” in schools, meaning that teachers were conducting classes in school without permission. Manickchand stated that the black market provided no proper rules and regulations, which posed a risk of putting the children in harm’s way.
She had also stated that the online learning was not efficient for the completion of SBAs and IAs, since many students lacked proper internet connectivity and others were lacking focus, which could be prevented with in person learning.
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