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Minister Updates On Education, Child Care

Ministry of Education Diallo Rabain provided an update on remote learning in our public schools, exams as well as the plans to offer child care for essential services workers.

Speaking at this evening’s press briefing, Ministry of Education Diallo Rabain said, “Good Evening. I would like to begin my update by first thanking our school Leaders and staff for their hard work and the efforts put forward during the past week in engaging our students and keeping our parents updated as we navigate through this current COVID-19 situation.

“My updates will focus on these areas:

  • “1. Remote Learning in our Public Schools during the past week
  • “2. Cambridge Checkpoints Examinations scheduled for April; and,
  • “3. The System Transformation Consultancy
  • “4. Child care for essential services workers.

Remote Learning

“Our remote learning strategy included, but was not limited to the following options:

  • “1. Providing home learning packets [hard and electronic copies].
  • “2. Using the Teaching Strategies Gold platform for posting activities at the Preschool Level.
  • “3. Using the PowerSchool platform for posting assignments.
  • “4. Using Zoom and/or other online platforms such as FROG or Google Classroom for creating, distributing and grading assignments and to facilitate interactive lessons.
  • “5. Using online learning applications such as DreamBox, Achieve3000, Accelerated Reader, etc.
  • “6. Posting activities and information on school websites.
  • “7. Communicating with parents and students via email, phone calls and apps such as ClassDojo.

“We provided options to schools in recognition that staff and schools need the flexibility to provide the remote learning activities for which they are equipped to execute at this time. This means, the remote learning activities for students varied from school to school and teacher to teacher, with the curriculum being the common denominator.

“The Zoom application helped tremendously with the launch of our remote learning strategy. Training was provided in using this application as a remote conferencing tool, for school principals, teachers, other school staff, Department of Education Officers and even our parents and guardians.

“Last week some of our school principals held staff meetings, assemblies and even observed lessons using Zoom. Many of our teachers and other school staff used Zoom to conduct remote face to face lessons with our students and their parents, for both the core and encore classes. Many students uploaded videos of themselves completing their tasks and our school staff have done an outstanding job communicating with parents via email, phone calls and using apps such as Classdojo.

“I experienced some of this first hand as a parent and I also had the opportunity to view many examples shared with me. I am very encouraged by what was achieved during this first week, recognizing the technological challenges and the significant demands placed in educators and parents who were navigating their own home environments. I also extend my thanks to parents and the Department of Education staff for their efforts to support school leaders, teachers and staff.

“The remote learning strategy is in its infancy stage, and we will be collecting quantitative and qualitative data from schools about the strengths and areas of improvement for the strategy. This data will be used to enhance the strategy moving forward.

“This week, the Department of Education will begin reviewing the data from parent and staff technology and internet surveys. As of today, we received 2,940 responses from parents and 391 from teachers.

“As per Plan 2022 Strategy 5.3.3 we will use the data to determine the support needed for the remote learning programme. We are aware that not all staff and students have access to the devices and internet needed to support the remote learning strategy. The data from the surveys will help us to gain a more accurate picture of the situation and to determine the best way moving forward.

International Examinations

“Last week the Department of Education sent a letter to parents, via school principals, informing them that Cambridge International has taken the decision not to run any of their examinations in the May/June 2020 series. This includes Cambridge Checkpoints, IGCSE, O’ Levels, and A’ Levels. I recognize this comes as a disappointment to our students, parents and staff who have been working hard towards their exams.

“I want to reassure parents that the Department will be working with Cambridge and other international examination boards to determine the way forward for students. The Department of Education has also commenced discussions around end of year local examinations and senior school graduation. All efforts will be made to ensure that what we put into place will be in the best interest of our students.

School Transformation Consultancy

“The Ministry and Department of Education will be proceeding with plans for system and school redesign consultancy using a remote communication strategy. The consultancy officially commenced on Wednesday, March 25th.

“Last week the Ministry’s local Governance Team met via Zoom meeting and held an initial calibration meeting to ascertain project management approaches and review the methodology proposed by the consultants. Another meeting is scheduled tomorrow to finalize this.

“The Governance Team will interface with the Consultants via Zoom for a first engagement session this week Thursday. They will discuss plans for interfacing and strategies for moving forward.

“There is also a Zoom meeting scheduled for tomorrow with the System Design Team and the Consultants. This will be the first initial contact with this team for introductions and map out protected times for workings session meetings during the month of April.

“It is our intent not to delay the school and system redesign consultancy. We have a high level of confidence in starting the consultancy using this approach as the Consultants have previous experience working with countries on projects using remote platforms.

“We will be working diligently to keep the momentum going so that the consultancy remains on schedule. The Ministry of Education is committed to school and system redesign and keeping the community updated on our progress.

Child Care For Essential Services Workers

“The Ministry and Department of Education has developed a child care programme for children of essential services workers age 5 to 10 years old. There are a total of 68 children.

“Two programmes will be provided:

“1.   The Community Youth Center on Angle Street will host the child care programme for children 5 and 6 years old – currently 23 children in total.

“This programme will start on Wednesday, April 1st. Parents who submitted applications should have received an electronic link from the Department of Education with more detailed information such as the name of person to collect child on a daily basis; emergency contact person; details on food allergies etc. Parents are encouraged to submit these forms by noonday tomorrow, March 31st or sooner.

“2.    The CedarBridge Academy will host the child care programme for children 7 to 10 years old – currently 45 children in total. The start date for this programme is forthcoming and will be decided by end of week.