Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Robert Morgan says until the country achieves “Herd Immunity” Jamaica with its socio economic challenges will not be able to educate our children properly.
He observed that prior to the advent of the Coronavirus Epidemic in the island, the country’s education system had challenges, and with the onslaught of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Jamaica’s education system was faced with even more challenges.
He said the Covid crisis had up-ended the normal lifestyle of the nation and in particular has disconnected our students from the traditional education process. He acknowledged that for the immediate future, there will continue to be challenges with learning loss and psycho-social loss.
“A lot of our children at the beginning of the Pandemic were not able to afford devices, and even worse, the internet penetration in the country has not been what we want it to be,” he said.
Minister Morgan pointed out that “over the past year or so, we have installed the internet in over 103 new schools using satellite technology. We’ve also procured learning kits for students and parents, and spent hundreds of millions of dollars putting lessons on television, in the newspapers and on cable. We've launched our own learning network, which is free to air through Redi-TV,” he informed.
Addressing members of the Jamaican Diaspora at the fourth in the series of “Lets Connect with Ambassador Marks” on Thursday June 10 by way of video conference, the Education Junior Minister said the Ministry was working on a number of programmes that were designed to address learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
He said, among the programmes was a remedial education programme which was being crafted to intervene and address learning loss among students so identified.
Minister Morgan advised that “we’re also working with the Child Care and Protection Family Service Agency to intervene in communities and some families where we feel that the disconnection has caused psycho-social challenges.”
He noted that “guidance counsellors in the formal system are also still in the communities trying to make contact with some of their students who they may have concerns about,” he said.
The Minister told his large audience that “What we have to do in the next couple of years, is to have an intense focus on how to reconnect those who have been disconnected, and rescue those who have wandered away.
Minister Morgan also pointed to those “who have decided to end their education and go and seek employment, while you have other kids who involuntarily have had to end their education because they do not have the parental support or they lack the technological support to maintain connection.”
The Minister said it was incumbent on the Ministry to find the students who have left the system and seek those who want to return. “If we do not do that, we can contemplate over the next ten years we may lose some of this generation, and that is something the government is serious about. We do not want this to happen, and we need the assistance of the brain trust of the diaspora to assist us in preventing this,” Minister Morgan declared.
The Education Junior Minister called on the Diaspora to continue their assistance in the ongoing Education Transformation programme and commended them for the support they have been giving towards education.
In particular, Minister Morgan made reference to the Ministry of Education’s tablet drive, to which the diaspora have donated hundreds of laptop computers and tablets.
“Let’s Connect’ With Ambassador Marks” offers members of the diaspora the opportunity to speak directly with the ambassador about issues that are of interest to them, as well as to be updated on the government’s policies and programmes as well as the Embassy’s promotional activities.
From time to time, the Ambassador will be joined by various guests including ministers of government as well as key members of the diaspora, US government and key players in various agencies.