6000 tablets received for primary school students
The Ministry of Education received 6000 tablets this week to distribute to students, even as the education system faces disruption due to the ongoing eruption at La Soufriere.
Curtis King, the Education Minister said this week that these tablets were to be distributed to students in Grades 4, 3, 2,1 and Kindergarten.
“…We have in place now, the infrastructure to allow for greater success in the online teaching programme, so we are hoping to capitalise on that…we are approaching it step by step,” King said on NBC radio on Tuesday morning as he gave an update on the state of education in the country.
The Education Minister explained that the education sector is facing challenges, due to the fact that most schools are being used as shelters while others that are located in the volcano hazard zones have had to be abandoned.
He also noted that both high level education officials, principals and teachers are engaged in the process of shelter management, which has affected online teaching by extension.
“We want to first, engage those students in the shelters, because they are the ones with immediate needs, and then we move to the other levels. Of course, we have to continue to find ways of having the appropriate content, in these digital programmes because you would recognise that online teaching, as useful as it is – and I keep making the point – it cannot replace face to face instruction,” King said.
He added that it is therefore necessary to ensure that the experience is rewarding for both teachers and even more so, the students.
Local students have been engaged in virtual learning since early last year, when schools closed due to the COVID19 pandemic.
Schools reopened at the start of the school term last September but the return to the physical classroom was again delayed in January 2021 due to a local spike in COVID19 cases.
All schools were scheduled to reopen on April 12 after the Easter break but these plans were foiled when La Soufriere began erupting explosively three days prior.
As teaching transitioned to the online platform, the government addressed the lack of devices in the country by distributing approximately 17,000 tablets to all secondary school students, as well as teachers at the secondary and primary school levels.
King said on Tuesday that tablets were also distributed to all Grade 6 and Grade 5 students, with the exception of some students in Kingstown schools.
He noted that arrival of these 6000 tablets will be given to the remainder of students who are without devices.
Despite the challenges being faced in the sector currently, King said, “we are coming up with a strategy because we do recognise that we can make certain adjustments that will allow teachers still to be engaged in online teaching as well as the principal playing a role”.
Principals and teachers are actively engaged in work within the various shelters.
King said his ministry is yet to work out the fine details, but several solutions are being considered.