The Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 started in late 2019 and quickly spread to become a pandemic the following year. Based on the current state of global response to the pandemic, there is anticipation SARS-CoV-2 will join the family of coronaviruses to become endemic- like the flu. We will have to finalize an effective method to coexist and carryon with our lifes to protect our economic and mental well being.
Earlier this month newly appointed Chief Education Officer Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw indicated the ministry is working on a roadmap to ensure at least 70% of students and teachers are fully vaccinated or a system of robust testing as a prerequisite for class room teaching. She further reported about 9,000 of the 21,000 student population were vaccinated, however the vaccination status of teachers is unknown.
The concern of the blogmaster is about how online teaching is negatively effecting our children, especially at primary level. What is the fallout for children who are ‘wired’ to learn with different learning styles i.e. visual, auditory, kinetic to optimally learn. What will be the impact to the quality of a future Barbados society?
The challenge for education authorities is to efficiently weigh the risk of online instruction compared to class room learning of our children during the pandemic and implement relevant plans to mitigate fallout. There is no perfect plan but we must execute the best plans given what is at stake. The speed at which the Covid 19 vaccine is being administered and the challenges caused by the surge of infections (see current Covid 19 graphs attached) suggest the current approach of blended learning will have to be the preferred approach into 2022.
The predicament we find ourselves throws out a view to which the blogmaster is sympathetic- should the country suspend the requirement of the 11+ exam, one example- until we implement an effective remedial syllabus to cater to children being left behind? We must not forget that pre Covid 19 government agreed to address fault lines in the education system.
Having sunk billions in the education system since 1966, we must be capable of having an informed and dispassionate discourse regarding next steps to deliver a quality education to the youth cohort AND importantly EXECUTE the plan to address concerns.