Jan 11, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – With schools now reopened for the Easter Term following its short closure for the 2020 Christmas holiday season, hinterland regions have recorded a low student turnout for physical classes. This is according to the Deputy Chief Education Officer (DCEO) for Amerindian and Hinterland Education Development, Marti DeSouza, who spoke to Kaieteur News last Friday.
Schools reopened for both virtual and face-to-face learning countrywide last Monday and even though the face-to-face interactions have been going “smoothly”, the DCEO said that various factors linked to the COVID-19 pandemic have hampered a better student turn out. DeSouza said that one of the major contributing factors was fear. In this regard, the official stated that in Region One (Barima-Waini), several teachers had tested positive for the virus which resulted in parents being reluctant to send their children back to the classroom.
Further, DeSouza noted that at the beginning of the week, the student turnout was less than 50 percent. The official noted however that an improvement was observed as the week came to a closure. He revealed that Region Nine (Upper Takatu- Upper Essequibo) recorded the highest student attendance when compared to other regions while adding that this may be linked to the fact that the region has been able to contain the spread of the virus since fewer cases are being reported.
The DCEO stated that even though the physical turnout was low, the students at home are still being engaged through the Ministry of Education and worksheets that are continuously distributed. The Education Officer also disclosed that there is a new initiative that the Ministry is embarking on, to link all hinterland secondary schools virtually for extra learning. “Face-to-face interaction is going smoothly; however, plans are afoot to link all the Secondary schools virtually, especially for the dormitory students who have access to the school’s WiFi,” the DCEO told this publication.
“Grades 10 and 11 students reside in the dorm, but due to the learning loss experienced, we are attempting to make up through virtual means,” he further stated.
Kaieteur News understands that sessions would be conducted every weekend using the ZOOM application and will provide additional learning lessons for the students. He disclosed that a test run was conducted on Saturday with students from schools in Region One, including Moruca, Port Kaituma and Santa Rosa.
He also indicated that he is currently in the region assessing the state of the computer labs to ensure they are fully functional.
Further to this, the official shared that students who do not have WiFi will have to utilise mobile data to participate in the learning lessons according to the DCEO. He stated that while it is unfortunate, mobile data can be expensive and the Ministry is working assiduously to assist in this regard.
The official shared another solution, which is having students utilise the learning resource centres located in the hinterlands. He stated that if the centres have stable internet access, students can go there for their extra learning lessons with the understanding that social distancing protocols have to be observed.
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