Dec 09, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand on Wednesday said that from January 2022 all students attending secondary schools with the exception of those in Grade Seven will return for full face-to-face learning.
The minister made the announcement at an event in Region Three at the West Demerara Secondary School. She was at time encouraging students to get vaccinated when she noted that the Ministry of Education will be opening schools fully for Grades 8,9,10,11 & 12 students from January next year.
At the ceremony yesterday, the minister said, “We can no longer continue with the level of distancing because this thing where you come in – one day a week, two days a week – is not working.”
She explained that with the current plan in place for students, they would not be able to complete the curriculum in time for their examinations. “We can’t finish a curriculum and if we can’t finish the curriculum, we are failing you, it means that you are going into the exams room unprepared and so next year, come January 3 , grades 8,9,10,11 and 12 will all be expected to come out to school fully,” the Minister related.
As for the students in Grade 7, given that majority of the students have not reach the age of 12 and have not been vaccinated, the Minister said plans would be put in place for them to attend school. She also mentioned that no doors would be closed for students if they are vaccinated or not, but she is encouraging students to get inoculated. Currently, children ages 12 to 17 are receiving only the US-made Pfizer vaccine. “The school doors will not be closed for any child whether vaccinated or not but whether vaccinated or not, every child will come to school from Grade 8,9,10 11 and 12 come January,” she reiterated.
Apart from that, if a student does not want to attend school, Manickchand assured that students will be allowed and offered the Ministry’s online learning materials. “You will have to take the responsibility of using those materials wisely,” she told the students.
Meanwhile, a new World Bank Report release last week cited Guyana for having one of the lowest levels of educational engagement in the region during the pandemic.
Titled, “An Uneven Recovery: the Impact of COVID-19 on Latin America and the Caribbean”, the Bank cited Guatemala, Guyana, and Belize, with only two-thirds of school-age children engaged in some form of education. Many countries are highly reliant on remote learning options to keep children engaged, such as Chile, Peru, Panama, and Ecuador, the Bank also said.
According to the report, most children are engaged in some form of educational activity in the region, although engagement levels (and quality) vary considerably across countries, ranging from 64 percent in Guatemala to 97 percent in Chile. In most countries, engagement rates (including in-person attendance and remote learning) are below pre-pandemic attendance levels. Regionwide, engagement in any education activities is below the pre-pandemic attendance rate.
This suggests severe learning losses and an increase in drop-out rates, with grave implications for the accumulation of human capital. According to the Bank, more than one year into the pandemic, only 23 percent of students in the region were attending school in person. Vaccine deployment and government policies differed greatly across the region, explaining these differences. Educational engagement in Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, and Chile has been mainly virtual, as schools remained closed for the most part. On the contrary, in-person attendance was more common in the Caribbean and Central America. Children in wealthier households, measured by the number of assets, are more likely to be engaged in schooling, but their attendance is also mostly virtual. Lower engagement in learning activities and low face-to-face attendance pose significant risks for children’s learning outcomes and human capital accumulation. Recent estimates reveal that students in the region lost between 12 and 18 months of schooling. Those from low socio-economic levels were particularly affected, which suggests long-lasting negative effects on social mobility and inequality.
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