Minister for Education Shawn Edward, Sunday announced government will provide nearly 4000 laptops to secondary school students in need to improve their learning experience.
“Unfortunately there are hundreds of students in our school system who do not possess a tablet or laptop computer or internet connectivity. This situation of students not having devices to take advantage of the virtual learning platform concerns me tremendously as (a) minister and I have caused it to be the subject of very robust discussions amongst education administrators and my cabinet colleagues,” he said.
Edward stated he appraised Prime Minister Philip J Pierre about the situation who without delay gave the green light to make available at the soonest almost 4000 laptop computers to students in need.
He revealed that the devices will be distributed amongst form one and form two students first and said there are other initiatives afoot to secure devices for primary school students as well.
“This is the direction in which the world is moving and our students will not be left behind,” the minister asserted.
He also spoke about COVID-19 and its effects on the school system. Edward said the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases forced the Ministry to review its plan, leaving them with no choice but to resort to the distributed learning modality.
“As we gear up for the commencement of the 2021-2022 academic year, we are once again faced with the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our initial plan was to have a full-fledged reopening of schools where teachers, students and ancillary staff would all report to the various school buildings for classes and other school related activities,” Edward said.
He added, “Unfortunately COVID-19 has forced us once again to part from what we initially planned and so students must stay at home to receive their lessons until such time that health authorities and personnel from the Ministry of Education deem it safe to return to face student-teacher interaction.”
He continued: “In instances where students do not possess smart devices or internet infrastructure, teachers will endeavour to prepare handouts, worksheets and other relevant packages that students will engage at home. The Government of Saint Lucia through the Ministry of Education is committed to ensuring that this academic year is one that improves on the experiences of last year. As a ministry it is our intent to reduce on the loss of instruction time.”
He emphasized that students will not be left behind.
“COVID-19 has taken a toll on us as a society and our children have not been spared or exempted. We will ensure that the necessary support mechanisms are in place to help students recover socially emotionally and academically.”
“The Government of Saint Lucia through the Ministry of Education is committed to ensuring that this academic year is one that improves on the experiences of last year. As a ministry it is our intent to reduce on the loss of instruction time. The expectation is that school administrators and teachers, through the various training exercises undertaken, will be better prepared to engage in learning and teaching this year through the proposed distributed approach,” Edward added.
The new academic year commenced on Monday September 13, 2021.