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Welcome news from Education Ministry – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


Education Minister Terrence Deyalsingh. Photo by Marvin Hamilton - Marvin Hamilton
Education Minister Terrence Deyalsingh. Photo by Marvin Hamilton – Marvin Hamilton

ON THURSDAY, the Education Ministry offered two indicators that it is coming to terms with the evolving requirements for effective education in our current circumstances.

Distribution began that day of the final tranche of 20,000 laptops acquired by the Government to meet the needs of remote learning in the public education sector.

This follows 14,608 laptops previously sent to primary, secondary and special education schools and 6,659 laptops allocated to teachers. Closing the device gap were an additional 23,000 devices provided by the private sector through the Adopt-A-School initiative. Those devices came from a wide range of sources, from the National Gas Company to Machel Montano.

To improve online connections, 10,000 MiFi devices will also be distributed to teachers and students.

That effort at improving access to remote learning is being matched by a refreshed commitment to getting children into school. The Education Ministry also released updated guidelines for a return to physical classrooms last week.

This initiative will apply only to fully-vaccinated secondary school students from forms four-six, with a plan to create a blended learning environment to accommodate students who are unvaccinated and will attend class remotely.

It’s a calculated risk, which must balance the immunity among vaccinated students with safety procedures to protect teachers and students alike.

With the challenge of managing both in-person student engagement with remotely connected students, there will be a need for parity in curriculum delivery for the latter.

The Government has not announced what percentage of students are in forms four-six, but with just 39,120 school-age citizens vaccinated, it’s quite likely to be less than half of that segment of the student population.

Twenty months into pandemic restrictions, the Government is still playing catch-up in many areas, and there is no word from the Education Minister on how three terms of remote learning have informed the ministry’s approach to becoming more adaptable in curriculum delivery.

For instance, after a scrappy beginning, with hastily adapted transpositions of the classroom to uninspiring video packages, has the ministry considered engaging TT’s largely unemployed creative community to develop attractive, accessible education modules that address critical concepts in pedagogy?

For preschoolers and early primary school students who have struggled to adapt to online learning, that might make a critical difference.

For many nations, covid19 learning experiences have inspired fundamental changes in the way education is packaged and delivered that will evolve the way schools handle education after the pandemic.

This country needs to go beyond adjusting to pandemic restrictions to adapting and taking advantage of our creative capacity and best teacher resources to drive an evolution in learning access. That’s an overdue next step for the Education Ministry.


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