By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
WHILE officials hope to soon announce a date for the resumption of face-to-face learning, Education Minister Glenys Hanna Martin disclosed that several schools will be unable to open due to an unsatisfactory state of repair.
Speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, the Englerston MP did not give a timeline for the in-person opening of schools.
However, she said the schools that suffered “egregious neglect” and will not open include L W Young, Yellow Elder Primary, C W Sawyer Primary, Ridgeland Primary, Sybil Strachan Primary, Uriah McPhee Primary, S C McPherson Junior High School, Gerald Cash Primary School, Carlton Francis Primary and the Centre for the Deaf.
All Family Island schools are ready to open with the exception of George Town Primary and L N Coakley High, both in Exuma, the minister said.
“We understand that there is much anxiety and angst and growing concern as to the question of the resumption of face-to-face instruction as it is clear that this is the ideal method in teaching instruction and student learning for a myriad of reasons,” Mrs Hanna Martin said.
“It is also understood the pressures placed on children, teachers and parents operating in a hybrid or fully virtual school environments and those who have fallen outside of the system and the damage being caused.
“We are preparing for the resumption of face-to-face instruction in our public schools, but cannot do so until our health officials say that it is safe to do so and mandate the requisite health protocols to be undertaken to assure a safe environment for all.
“We must also work closely with parents and the unions to seek to allay any concerns they may have.”
She continued: “I am hoping that very soon we will be able to announce a date for the resumption of face-to-face classes.
“However, as previously pointed out in my communication, several schools nationwide, including here in New Providence, will not be able to reopen promptly due to the unsatisfactory state of repair and, in some instances, select schools will not be ready until early next year.
“It is very unfortunate and disappointing that the previous administration did not cause for the annual school repair exercise to be undertaken expeditiously and there has been egregious neglect.
“Since taking office and assuming responsibility for this state of affairs, we have been collaborating closely with the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Finance to accelerate these works and we will do our utmost to minimise disruption due to circumstances which have been beyond our control.”
The closure of the nation’s schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in thousands of school “drop-outs”, the minister said.
This is due to some students being unable to access the internet to attend virtual classes.
“While we gear ourselves up to reform education in this country, we are faced on a simultaneous basis with an immediate and daunting crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic – I gave a communication on this last week in this honourable House as to the enormity of this situation. And if we do not move quickly and decisively, we will reap a terrible fallout in this country.
“We have sought the assistance of the Department of Statistics to undertake a scientific survey to gain full insight into the reasons and issues resulting in thousands of children at all grades and levels having not signed on to the virtual learning programme and so, essentially being absent from school in some instances for almost two years.
“We hope the findings will allow us to assist in the overcoming of obstacles to access to learning, which we suspect comprise an array of challenges.
“We are now embarking on the identification of each individual child, and his or her grade level and school, to devise a strategy based on the results to provide remediation for these children.”
Amongst this group are children who would have, under normal conditions, completed their final year of school both last year and this year, she said.
These children must now be considered “drop-outs” and Mrs Hanna Martin said officials are devising strategies to engage these young people through programmes—public and private— at the National Training Agency, Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute, youth training initiatives now under consideration, and apprenticeship programmes.
“This is an urgent situation, an emergency of sorts, which has the potential to seriously impact our national development and future prospects,” Mrs Hanna Martin said.
stillwaters 1 year, 4 months ago
Here we go again......just say that some schools are not ready, but here's your plan to make sure they are ready. That would make you sound more like a minister with a mission, rather than a whiner/ complainer.
realfreethinker 1 year, 4 months ago
You are so right. I am sick and tired of the excuses and blame game.
themessenger 1 year, 4 months ago
With all due respect Mrs. Hanna-Martin, the schools haven't been ready to open on time since Pindling and your daddy was in charge, the more things change the more they stay the same!
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