Mr Robinson said with the confirmation by the Minister of Education, Hon Fayval Williams, that students would have to access their education online due to the continued presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now more imperative that the government takes deliberate steps to ease the burden on parents and guardians by making the devices cheaper.
Based on the government's projections as outlined by Minister Williams at a press conference, held at Jamaica House, on September 22, 2020, approximately 250 thousand students require tablets or computer devices to access the new learning environment. Sadly, yesterday's press conference by the Education Minister has created more questions and anxiety over the education sector.
The Shadow Minister said the purchase and anticipated delivery of these tablets and computers to students would not be sufficient to deal with the number of students who are in need. He said the concern for many stakeholders is the creation of a situation where some students are given devices and access while others are left out of the equation.
Robinson indicated that his proposal for a fixed period of 6 months, given the extraordinary circumstances brought about by COVID-19, would be sufficient to deliver the devices and bring everyone at the same level.
He said, "There is a real risk that students will lose up to one year of learning because they cannot access online classes, which may permanently retard their educational development."
In June 2020, the Shadow Minister called for "an in-depth assessment by the Ministry of Education to determine the extent of the regression and put in place appropriate measures to correct this. However, to date, it seems nothing has been done to fix this problem, Mr Robinson said.
During the said presentation, he warned that the coronavirus pandemic had exposed grave and significant inequalities in our educational sector and that we cannot move forward until these inequities are adequately addressed.
The Shadow Minister said, September is here, and schools are now faced with a new normal, students will be required to do a combination of in school and at home online learning but many do not have either the devices or the connectivity to learn.
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