Sunday 20 September, 2020

Minister: No crystal ball to see what school in September will be like

Online teaching, remote classrooms and adherence to COVID-19 health protocols are expected to remain part of the “blended approach to learning” when classes resume in September, according to the Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Santia Bradshaw.

“We at the Ministry of Education will soon start the consultations with our stakeholders in education to develop the plans of what school will look like when they resume classes,” said Bradshaw. She added that media devices “will be a large part of the approach because none of us know how long COVID-19 will remain on the landscape of the world.”

The Ministry of Education’s planning efforts will get a boost from the Government of Barbados with the availability of about 20,000 devices to be obtained through the Government of Kenya.

Bradshaw described the supplementary, which she was slated to discuss in Parliament on August 7, as “a very important piece of financial assistance…which will assist us to be able to ensure that there is a blended approach to learning for the start of the September term.”

The Minister referenced the upcoming new school year while giving remarks, prior to speaking in Parliament, at a ceremony at The Ellerslie School for the naming of its auditorium after Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus, Professor The Most Honourable Violet Eudine Barriteau.

“The world is navigating in uncharted waters during this COVID-19 pandemic. I wish I had a crystal ball to say what school would look like, but I don’t. What I do know, however, is that whatever format our classes will take we will need the full cooperation of our school staff, our unions, our parents and indeed, our students,” stated Bradshaw during the unveiling of the V. Eudine Barriteau Auditorium.

“And we have seen many of them rise to the challenge over the course of the last few months. It has not been easy but in the face of adversity we have been successful with being able to contain our numbers and ensure that students received a decent education,” she observed.

‘It is my wish that all Barbadians will work with us, and over the next few months our teachers and students will also have to adapt further to be able to operate in this new environment. Emergency online teaching, remote classrooms, strict health protocols and physical distancing will now become the norm,” according to the Minister.

Bradshaw noted that Barriteau’s alma mater had already been heavily utilizing technology prior to COVID-19 and therefore the transition to remote learning due to the pandemic was easier for many students at the school.

“Here at Ellerslie School, I am aware that for several years you have embraced the technology and you are one of the pioneers with the Google Classroom GSuite for Education,” said the Minister of Education.

She commended the school’s principal, Lieutenant Colonel Errol Brathwaite, for being a “trailblazer” in pushing the use of online teaching at Ellerslie.

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