EDUCATION Minister Jeff Lloyd.
By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
FAMILY Island schools will be linked to New Providence classrooms digitally as the government seeks to address teacher shortages. The eLearning platform has cost the taxpayers $20m to date, according to Education Minister Jeffery Lloyd.
Speaking at the Rotary Club of South East Nassau’s weekly meeting yesterday, Mr Lloyd said each year approximately 40 to 100 teachers are needed, mostly affecting the southern islands. To address this issue, the government is rolling out a distance learning programme for some Family Island students.
He said: “Those students in the MICAL constituency don’t have the same access or…quality that those in Grand Bahama, New Providence and Abaco do. They are now expressing and making demands with their voices justifiably so that they too should not only be subjected to only four or five BJCSE options when those in New Providence are capable of doing 12 or 14 and it’s not their fault that they are deprived. It’s your fault mister educational system. We are going to fix that with technology but it’s expensive. I thought it was going to cost three to four million dollars to do it; $20m today, and that’s just laying down the groundwork and the foundation.”
He added: “That’s not even beginning to consider that when we open this system from a technological standpoint where there is greater accessibility, more share-ability somewhat more venerability but exponential capacity. We are going to do something quite creative this September. Those islands like Crooked island, Acklins and so on where cannot put a math, physics, biology, and chemistry and sometimes Spanish and so on teacher. We are going to connect them up digitally. We’re going to have what they call distance learning.”
Mr Lloyd said his ministry wants the system to be completely digitised within 12 to 18 months.
“We are 40 percent on the way and we are going to start with eLearning or distance learning this coming September,” he said. “Forty of the schools are already wired up and so on. Most of the schools in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas when I came as minister did not have the internet. Most did not have the internet to date that’s only two years ago - 2017.
“It’s expensive we only can do it there, but you have other places in the Bahamas (like) South Eleuthera, North Andros, Bimini and elsewhere who are also in need, can’t do it. Teachers are not trained to do that because that’s a different type of teaching.”
He added: “That means that the youngsters are going to have a tablet in their hand and he’s going to have to manage his way through the lesson plan because the teacher is in Anatol Rodgers or Doris Johnson (in New Providence). It also means that the leaner now is going to have to be different because you’re going to have to do more of what we call self-management learning.”