Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly confirmed today that the school curriculum will begin between 7 and 14 September, as Trinidad and Tobago prepares to enter a phase of remote learning.
Schools closed to students in March, due to the novel coronavirus, with learning since then reliant on the resources of the school and/or parent as well as the gumption of individual teachers. The upcoming school term, which ends on 11 December, would hopefully produce a more unified approach for the nation’s student population of roughly 225,000.
Dr Gadsby-Dolly said schools will be open for staff, who are expected to turn out between 1 and 4 September for online training, curriculum planning and the printing of school material for the roughly 65,000 students—just over a quarter of the student population—who have either no online devices or no connectivity.
From 7 to 11 September, schools should have orientation activities for students and distribute printing material, while, by 14 September, ‘all schools should be fully engaged in teaching’. If possible, schools are encouraged to begin teaching from as early as 7 September.
Parents are expected to ensure that students participate in their online classes and do their coursework but not necessarily teach themselves. Instead, Dr Gadsby-Dolly said teachers are to interact with students through phone calls from the school compound or via Whats App to ensure that they are on top of their studies.
Parents of students without access to online learning are to collect printed material at least once weekly and return them for assignments to be corrected.
The minister of education said the government is ‘considering the provision of some devices’ and will also liaise with alumni and the business community to help students who are unable to do online learning at present.
Teachers can arrange to work remotely but their delivery of school work, along with the attendance and participation of students, is to be monitored by principals. In turn, the principals’ reports should be evaluated by school supervisors, who are expected to intervene when necessary.
Apart from the online and printed material, the Ministry of Education also promised newspaper pull-outs in the print media once a week for ECCE students and infants. Channels 4 and 16 have been assigned exclusively to the ministry for instructional material for students, parents and teachers while there should be weekly radio programmes with general knowledge information for students.
The Ministry of Education vowed to publish schedules for the radio and television programmes.
The school feeding programme will continue with 500 lunches provided per day via the offices of the various Members of Parliament. Counselling from guidance officers and school counselling workers should also continue online.
There will be no final exams and the curriculum will be taught until 11 December with teachers instructed to use continuous assessment for grading purposes.
The practical components for CSEC and CAPE courses are suspended for the upcoming term while the Ministry of Education is considering a reduction in the number of topics examined for SEA 2021.
The 2020 SEA results are expected on 8 October with form one students expected to start school in mid-October. However, 2020 SEA students can still benefit from online learning resources made available to the public while they await results.