Pandemic has had ‘cataclysmic’ impact on education

EDUCATION Technical and Vocational Training Minister Glenys Hanna Martin.
Photo: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune staff

EDUCATION Technical and Vocational Training Minister Glenys Hanna Martin. Photo: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune staff


Tribune Senior Reporter


EDUCATION Technical and Vocational Training Minister Glenys Hanna Martin said COVID-19 has had a “cataclysmic” impact on education as she pledged to ensure the country does not produce “a lost generation of Bahamian youth.”

Stressing that the pandemic has widened the learning divide, she said: “What we do know so far…is a matter of grave concern as it seems clear that thousands of children of varying levels of the educational spectrum have either been completely absent for the entirety of this crisis or have been worryingly inconsistent in attendance via virtual classes.”

Mrs Hanna Martin said her ministry must get a data-driven evidence based understanding of the implications of the pandemic and the disruption it has caused.

“This is critical so that we may swiftly implement strategically targeted remedial interventions to reverse or minimise the damage caused by the disruption in education in The Bahamas,” she said during a communication in the House of Assembly yesterday.

“We have already begun this process by enlisting the expertise of the Department of Statistics to assist the ministry in more clearly understanding the reasons for or the barriers to our children accessing virtual learning. We do know, if only somewhat anecdotally, that among those barriers are challenges with internet access and the provision of student supervision, particularly for working parents.

“In some of our islands, the unreliability of the electrical supply or internet service appears to have been a significant issue from time to time. Once we have the results of this survey, we will be better positioned to understand the dilemma we are in, so that we can respond more effectively and thereby minimise gaps in the delivery of education to our nation’s children in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some children would very likely have been more greatly affected than others and there are enhanced concerns for children with special needs who would have faced unique barriers in a virtual learning environment. Some schools have been more greatly affected than others.

“UNESCO’s analysis indicates that it could take a decade to return to the situation before the pandemic. But that a recovery could be achieved by 2024 if exceptional efforts are made to provide the remedial classes and catch-up strategies necessary. This requires an adequate financial, policy and programming response with a particular emphasis on marginalised children.”

She said the Ministry of Education is in “a heightened state of activation” to try to minimise the harm caused by the situation. She said the Department of Education has developed a strategy to help in the recovery, remediation and acceleration of student learning and performance.

She said the department will enlist educators, guidance counsellors, school attendance officers and others “to reach out to the parents and guardians of our children who have not been consistent in their school attendance to offer support.”

“These measures will help to halt the ongoing damage being done,” she said. “To address the negative impacts that have already occurred, we will implement remediation programmes at varying levels to ensure that no child is left behind.

“You see, it is critical for us to not only fix the areas of the system that our data is telling us is creating an educational divide, we must also attempt to reverse the effects that the situation has already had on learning outcomes. In our recovery and remediation efforts we will need to join hands with the National Training Agency and BTVI to assist in filling gaps where appropriate.”

She asked parents who are having issues with their children’s access to education to reach out to officials.

Mrs Hanna Martin said the ministry will restore face-to-face learning only if this won’t compromise public health. She said State Minister for Education Zane Lightbourne has been travelling the country with Health Minister Dr Michael Darville to determine which schools can safely reopen for face-to-face learning.

She said education officials also face a challenge regarding the state of repair of several schools in New Providence and throughout the country. She said: “It seems that the annual summer school repair effort has lagged and it is now incumbent upon us in this new administration to accelerate those works so that when in-person classes are recommended, as per the advice of the minister of health, the physical plant of our schools will be in acceptable condition to welcome our children back.”

“Unfortunately, this reality will, in and of itself, hinder in person classes in some of our schools. We are mobilising all the resources necessary to address this situation as quickly as we can.”

 Mrs Hanna Martin said another challenge is a shortage of teachers.

 “The task ahead is monumental,” she said.


tribanon 1 year, 7 months ago

Is this really the best Hanna-Martin can do, i.e. state the obvious about our failed public education system that has been known to most of us for decades now? Many of the more systemic problems she speaks of were around long before the pandemic came along. God help our children.


moncurcool 1 year, 7 months ago

That sadly is what people in our country like. We put the same recycled people in position over and repeatedly and expect different results. You will never get NEW thinking from the same OLD heads.

We need a new generation of leaders not tainted with fresh ideas and a willingness to go against the status quo.


licks2 1 year, 7 months ago

I am hopeful after listening to her "tone". . .gee her a chance. . .then I will join you too in "trowin rocks" at her if she do fool!!

But I tell you. . .if she keeps that "team of retards" to run her ministry. . ."SHE MIGHT A WELL THROW IN THE TOWEL" right now. . .that director is a "problem looking for a place to happen"!


But, my mother said: "dat new minister don't play. . .she can be a real bi^%$ iffin people dem mess wid she"!! I do hope that she don't become like DOC AND JEFF and allow this mis-fitting director continue to be a "millstone" around the nect of our education system!!


whogothere 1 year, 7 months ago

Not the Pandemic - government policies! And for what? How many lives saved? How many infections stopped? Please pay attention plp and don't repeat the mistake..


stillwaters 1 year, 7 months ago

Old people can only think in the old way.


stillwaters 1 year, 7 months ago

The data driven evidence is already there....GLAT, BJC, BGCSE results.


ThisIsOurs 1 year, 7 months ago

Young people can be so blind

Your fight isnt with age. Dr Minnis had plenty young people in his administration. All they do was bang on the desk and follow the leader


B_I_D___ 1 year, 7 months ago

Hearing chatter that one of the budget cuts being made is to education...gotta keep em dumb and stupid so they don't wise up to silly politricks...Bahamas is doomed.


carltonr61 1 year, 7 months ago

Her point is that 6000 students multiplied by three years or approximately 20000 matured young adults must be brought back from the abyss, some genius' and world sporting champions must be found. They cannot enter the world with Covid on their resume. She is more than correct as no Education Minister has ever faced such a problem. She is attempting to offset a social catastrophe that we must be sensitized to.


sheeprunner12 1 year, 7 months ago

How can Dept of Stats help MOE, if there hasn't even been a census since 2010? I feel sorry for our children if GHM continues to keep those same old technocrats in MOE. Virtual school, internet, teacher shortage, and parental involvement are the biggest issues. DOStats can't do much right now. MOE should have its own stats on the schools, kids, teachers, parents etc.


JokeyJack 1 year, 7 months ago

They worrief about academics? The masks on very young children are preventing from learning facial emotional expression and thus have much less empathy for others.

When the mass shooting start in just a few years time, remember this warning.

Cold blooded murders are going to skyrocket around the world because people have less value without faces. Sad? Happy? What do those words even mean to 1st graders? U in their way? You're gonna be killed.


realfreethinker 1 year, 7 months ago

When are these children going back to school. That TV school ain't working. Y'all think we have a "d" average now check back 2 years from now.


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