McLean: Options on table to re-energise students


McLean: Options on table to re-energise students

Senior staff reporter

Monday, June 29, 2020

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Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Dr Grace McLean, says several options are being explored to help students who might have regressed because of the disruption to the teaching learning process since the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close early in March, come the September term.

“We know some regression would have taken place and so for the first three weeks in September we will be administering a special assessment in selected subject areas across the system to identify the gaps and to determine how these gaps will be filled going forward,” Dr Mclean told a digital forum put on by the Caribbean Centre for Educational Planning recently.

“The three weeks of assessment will take place from September 7 onward and we are developing structured assessment instruments that will be administered at all level from early childhood to the end of secondary. It is our intention to work with our teachers to identify the gaps,” the permanent secretary said.

She said following the review of the assessments the ministry will hold discussions with its curriculum officers to review the national standard curriculum.

“We will move towards making adjustments to the curriculum if it is necessary. We will also consider the addition of an hour or so to the school day if our administrators are in agreement and in some cases there may be a narrowing of the holiday period again if our administrators are in agreement so effectively there are some localised decisions that will be made regarding the completion of the curriculum,” she told the forum.

She emphasised that the adjustments to the curriculum would not disenfranchise students.

“Based on how the curriculum is set up, whatever has been adjusted for the new school year the students will be able to catch up in subsequent years, we will, however, pay special attention to those students from Grade 6 who will be moving to seven and those moving from Grade 9 into 10,” she stated.

In the meantime, Dr McLean said the ministry is in the process of “putting in place a national sector committee to look at the medium- to long-term plans for education from a strategic perspective.

“We are currently advancing our proposal to Cabinet for their approval. Once they have approved, the public will be made aware and we are expecting that team to be able to take us forward in terms of medium and long term. The plans we are making now really are to facilitate the opening in September,” she added, noting that the ministry had advised during the last term that the introduction of new concepts should be limited

And the permanent secretary said based on research done with assistance from international partners the education officials have identified an approach using the six-feet distancing to accommodate students.

“Through partnerships we believe we will be able to find enough space to accommodate our students. Partnerships with churches, private schools, available spaces and also the use of the wide expanse of lands that we have on some of our school compounds by the erection of tents and temporary structures,” Dr McLean said.

“We expect that by the first to second week in July we will have the full implementation plan ready for dissemination to the system but we have to have all the consultations done before this plan can be made public,” she said noting that extensive training is being arranged for teachers and those involved.

And president of the Jamaica Teacher's Association Owen Speid, speaking during the forum, singled out schools he said would need assistance to provide some of these facilities.

“I visited Camperdown, Seaforth High, Paul Bogle, Donald Quarrie... those in particular need some assistance in putting up structures so that they can accommodate larger groups while abiding by the physical distancing guidelines. At Paul Bogle, perimeter fencing is needed. We want to ensure that our children are not circumventing the testing and the kind of sanitisation that should take place at the schools entrance and so if they are not properly fenced then that could some sort of challenge with the school administration trying to ensure that they are properly sanitised and so on,” he said.

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