Educational reform is high on the agenda of the Ministry of Education’s agenda. So, said the Minister of Education Jeffery Lloyd, during his House of Assembly budget presentation.
He noted that change in the educational system must be made in light of the worldwide pandemic, COVID-19, which has forced a new reality.
“There is no question that this new reality, introduced as a result of COVID-19, will inaugurate a new way of teaching and learning, when schools reopen for the new academic year.
“Given our recent experience with managing generally during this pandemic, we know that many of the physical distancing practices have introduced layers of bureaucracy and logistics. These requirements, of necessity, will have tremendous cost implications. We will have to be realistic about what it is that we would be able to do, and there will have to be a clear understanding that while safety is number one, we have to also do as much as we can to manage our resource.
“On the other hand, we are also aware that many positive adaptive measures that were explored during this COVID-19 era. We have seen that the wide-scale use of virtual learning and ICT’s (Information and Communications Technology) offer many possibilities for significant positive change.
“Necessity is the mother of invention we all know, as the old adage. Therefore, in preparation for the new school year, and more will be stated about this, the Department (of Education) has undertaken several key initiatives,” the minister said.
“First, the Department of Education has technical representation on a regional team of education planners who have been charged with preparing a framework for the reopening of schools.
“Next, the Department of Education has commenced the process of developing the technical plan for the Ministry of Education. A Steering Committee has been prepared for that.
“We have developed guidelines for the administration and conduct of the national examinations to be held in July and August of this year, which will be made available and our goal of planning to ensure the effective continuation of Education in the COVID-19/Post COVID-19 year,” he said.
According to the minister, there is also a need to amalgamate and consolidate some learning institutions, particularly on some of the Family Islands.
“I will speak sometime later about our amalgamation and consolidation of schools. The reality is that there is a decline in the population in the public schools. In 2005, there were 51,000 and in 2018 there were 45,000; some 6,000 less in just 10, 15 years ago.
“As a result, there is a consolidation plan underway in some of the Family Islands. I realize that this is going to make things a little bit unpleasant for some of those in the Family Islands, but we have to live within our means and we have to maximize the use of our resources,” said Lloyd.
He added that the 2020\2021 Budget allocations for the Ministry of Education is one that sets a blueprint for prosperity, industry, discipline and success for many years to come.
“Those who know me, know I don’t squander words. It’s not in my nature. These are defining moments in our nation’s history, requiring an urgent and compelling introspection of the nature of our being – individually, collectively and internationally. That’s what crisis do, they test the fiber of your being, the challenge, the quality of your principles and the attitude with which you negotiate life,” said the minister.
"As for those who continue to disapprove of the National Examinations continuing this year, albeit face-to-face classroom interaction ceased in March, a number of avenues were afforded to students and continue to be afforded prior to the new start date for examination, on July 13.
“My life has been scorched through the crucible of challenges and difficulties. I can speak. This is why I can say without a contradiction that this is a great, though small, country with a talent base that far exceeds the quotient of its size. Take a look at those that are here.
“If God is the source of life, as I believe God is, then God is present in you and me, and in the whole created order. And if God is the source of life, then the only way you worship God is by living; living fully. Sharing life, giving life away, not being afraid, wandering out of the certain into the uncertain, out of known into the unknown.
“We have abundant examples of lives that rose from humble and by modern standards, depraved conditions –who through the inherited grace of God, have become who we are today. “We will conquer. Our students will do excellently in their exams, in the name of Jesus. They will make us proud as they always. They are looking to us, adults, to be their inspiration, not to be the douse of their hopeful flames. That we shall do, because we owe it to them to give them the same chance God gave is through our mentors,” concluded Lloyd.