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Second round of online learning begins

Second round of online learning begins
Curtis King

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As physical schooling is going into its second week of deferral, schools returned to a regime of online learning yesterday.

Minister of Education, Curtis King in a ‘back to school’ broadcast on the Agency for Public Information informed that while online delivery of the curriculum is not the best alternative to face-to-face learning, there is value in engaging students meaningfully in this period.

The Ministry has recommended that primary school students receive two hours of instruction per day, broken down into half hour slots, with 15-minute breaks in between.

For secondary school students, the Ministry is recommending a three-hour day during which the form ones to the form threes will be exposed to 45 minute slots.

“…the students who are in the CXC programs from form four to form five, the schools are allowed that flexibility to so organize the periods to the benefit of the students,” the Education Minister informed in the January 8 broadcast.

The Minister recalled that the third term of last year was online learning, and expressed the Ministry’s hope that teachers can build on that experience.

He said that just to ensure persons were up to speed, the Ministry held some refresher courses last week.

“We have at each school level, administrators who are charged with the responsibility of operating the system and so training teachers to ensure that they are comfortable with whatever platform is being used and so we believe that by now our teachers, most of them will be fairly comfortable to deliver the program via this mode,” King stated.

King assured numerous times throughout his address, that while there will be challenges, they can be surmounted if everyone works together.

“It is very important for us to recognize that this mode of teaching will present challenges and I want to urge all the stakeholders to see these challenges not so much as excuses for not doing any work, but more so challenges that we can surmount once we all work together,” he stated.

King issued reminders to all the stakeholders individually, including the teachers, parents, administrators and principals.

“It is school away from school. So be punctual, be well prepared for your work, and very importantly, things like your dress code, the language you use during instructional time, all these things would very important,” he reminded.

Late last year, Government distributed digital tablets to students and teachers.

“We have distributed tablets to students from grade six in the primary schools to students, all the students at the Secondary School level,” King disclosed. While they intended to provide tablets to all students, they “do not have all of those devices at present available.”

Last week they also provided grade five students in some areas with tablets.

All teachers at the Secondary level including relief teachers will have by this week, the minister said.

He also made an appeal as it relates to internet providers to come on board.

“Where students don’t have access though, we are asking that the teachers, the parents report to the Ministry of Education so we could see how best we work out a solution to that challenge,” the Minister requested.

“These are unprecedented times and difficulties will always arise. What is important is that we use our skills, we use our resources, to surmount these challenges,” he concluded.

“Any cursory glance at our history will reveal that we have always been a resilient people who have dealt with many, many challenges and we have always overcome,” he added.