SHOULD students who have had to study at home through the pandemic have to take their examinations in the coming weeks?
It’s a thorny question – and while Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd seems determined to push through, there is understandable concern from children and parents that the students might not be prepared to the level they need for the examinations.
“Students were advised that the lockdown didn’t mean a vacation from school,” said Mr Lloyd, “PSAs and other media announcements made this plain and clear.”
That’s true – but has the level of involvement between students and teachers been to the level required to prepare them for exams?
Let’s take a look at Mr Lloyd’s own figures. He says registration has reached more than 48,000 students, with an average of 20,000 engaged daily. Engaged can mean different things – it could mean attending online classes, it could mean doing an assignment, it could mean checking emails.
Mr Lloyd’s figures are also not much different from what they were in April, when 40,000 students out of 60,000 were registered, and 20,000 were accessing the online platform each day. Back then, he said about 1,200 attended live sessions each day – and 1,200 out of 60,000 is significantly less impressive as a number.
As parents themselves will attest, the level of the work is perhaps not as involved as one would hope from schooling – a maths assignment here, an English project there but not the intensive hours in a classroom from a school day. In fairness, how could it be? Parents are doing their own work, managing the household, navigating the problems of the pandemic too.
Many children might not have the equipment to access the schoolwork either – either lacking devices to work on or internet access, or having to share devices with brothers and sisters and parents. It’s not easy, by any means.
Some parents have launched a petition, asking for forecast grades to be used instead of an examination – but that seems not to have found favour as a suggestion.
What are the alternatives? Could an extended summer school be held for examination year students to help prepare them? After all, many summer camps will have cancelled this year or may struggle to accommodate children amid the pandemic recovery. Could the year even be re-run? Between Hurricane Dorian and the coronavirus, this has been the most disrupted year for students – do they start the year again to make the most of their potential?
We don’t want to rush students through so they get bad grades that will forever sit on their resumé as a black mark from the effects of COVID-19.
“No one is forcing you to take any exams. That is your choice,” says Mr Lloyd. Perhaps not – but the list of alternatives is looking slim.
Moving on from Dr Sands issue? Hardly!
We’ve moved on, have we?
That’s the word from FNM chairman Carl Culmer over the issue of Dr Duane Sands’ resignation as Minister of Health.
He’s echoing the words of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis last week, who was firmly avoiding answering questions about the resignation and why he chose to accept it.
“That story is dead,” said Mr Culmer. “The Prime Minister has already addressed that and that is finished as far as I am concerned.”
Except of course that the Prime Minister has not already addressed that. Dr Minnis got out a broom and tried to sweep it under the carpet – that’s not the same thing as addressing it.
The matter has indeed been thoroughly discussed in the media – in the sense that the media and others have been asking questions. Those questions have not been answered. We cannot move on until there are actual answers.
Dr Sands, for his part, revealed his frustration in The Nassau Guardian yesterday that a resignation letter was leaked that he says he did not write.
Who wrote it? Who leaked it? Two more questions to throw on the pile being ignored by the Prime Minister.
In the wake of Dr Sands’ comments, we of course contacted the Office of the Prime Minister for answers. Guess what – the Prime Minister who campaigned on transparency didn’t comment.
For those wanting to move on, here’s the thing – you don’t get to decide when enough answers have been given. The public does. Deny the public answers and they’ll remember that when they cast their votes next time. Then you might be the ones moving on.