With students across the island entering into the second week of remote learning, two educators are bemoaning the fact that some teachers do not have requisite materials to deliver lessons online, and some students have no devices or internet access.
Former director of education and current tutor at St Joseph’s Academy, Jacintha Pringle, said that some of these issues were highlighted in March 2020 when Antigua and Barbuda recorded its first Covid-19 case and the country was placed on lockdown.
She said while some of the problems have been addressed, pertinent issues such as computers for students are yet to be resolved.
“Teachers were promised tablets for students and that was probably two years ago and that has not come to fruition. That, to me, is a shame. Education is so important and it has to do with children’s learning and they are the future of our nation, so we must not play with their education at all,” Pringle said.
Foster Roberts, the principal of the Ottos Comprehensive School also acknowledged that the transition from face-to-face instruction to remote learning poses a great challenge for students with different learning abilities.
It is also a challenge for some teachers who are not yet trained to deliver this form of teaching. Roberts said that as of last week these groups of teachers have been preparing specially designed packages for parents to collect from the schools to target students at this level.
“If the teachers are going to deliver the type of education that we really want them to give to our children, they must be able to reach them wherever they are. We would have learnt something, but have we corrected most of those things to make us ready for online learning? I would say no,” Roberts posited.
“Online learning is going to be with us for a long time. As a matter of fact, it is here to stay. We have to get ourselves ready to engage our children online, even if it means that the service providers have to make internet access free for all during the day, so that the children can get their work done, then so be it.”
Both educators also spoke about the responsibility of parents to monitor their children to ensure they have access to the online platforms and are completing assignments on time. They also agreed that parents should also pay keen attention to their children’s behaviour while they are in online sessions.
Additionally, Roberts also appealed to some parents to allow their child or children to complete assignments on their own.
“In school, a child was averaging 55-56 [percent in a subject], and now that the child is at home, he or she is scoring between 95 and 100 [percent]. The credibility of the online work also comes into question, because when I give a test, who says it is being done by the child?” Roberts queried.
Last week, the government decided that all educational institutions should transition from face-to-face to online instruction, in response to a rise in Covid-19 cases and reports that some students had been indirectly exposed to the virus.
Director of Education Clare Browne told the media last week that the decision could be reviewed on February 22nd.