Face-to-face in a new place

Acting principal of Mona Heights Primary School Alex Hepburn is being lauded for his efforts to accommodate 17 students from Louise Bennett Coverley All-Age for face-to-face classes at his institution.

The 17 students are among those preparing for the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) Ability Test on May 26, but they were not able to resume face-to-face classes at their school as Louise Bennett Coverley All-Age is one of those affected by the breakaway on Gordon Town Road in St Andrew, following the heavy rains associated with hurricanes Eta and Zeta last November.

“I really want to laud the support of the principal who opened arms and welcomed the students. I think we are in for great things and further we are extending the partnership to other institutions that are in need of this support at this time. It is a commendable initiative and I am certain that other regions, and other institutions may want to follow suit,” said acting regional director for Region One in the Ministry of Education Dasmine Kennedy, during a tour of Mona Heights Primary School on Tuesday.

According to Kennedy, she, along with her education officers, launched the idea of shared learning spaces to alleviate the inequity faced by students in the region which covers Kingston and St Andrew.

Kennedy noted that the Ministry of Education’s Region One consists of 159 institutions with more than 50 per cent already open for face-to-face teaching.

She pointed out that several schools have indicated that they will be opening their doors to outside students.

“It’s the will of the educational institutions. We are not forcing anything on anyone. Already, we are in discussions with some other institutions that are willing to accept other children,” said Kennedy.

In the meantime, 11-year-old Kianna Hall from Louise Bennett Coverley All-Age, said she was positive about producing good grades, as she prepares for the PEP exams through face-to-face classes in a new environment.

“I am very excited to be here and it’s nice to see my friends. I am very confident about exams,” Kianna told the Jamaica Observer.

Audrey Fairweather, acting principal at Louise Bennett Coverly All-Age, also expressed gratitude for the welcome given to her students by those at Mona Heights Primary.

“As a result of that [programme], coupled with the warm welcome from the school family here, we have been having an engaging and meaningful time,” said Fairweather.

“I think the institution facilitating our face-to-face activity as was expressed by the students will help to boost their confidence and also help them to remember the interactions they have had in the past and how their teachers related to them in the physical space,” Fairweather added.

For his part, Hepburn said while a blended approach was adopted to facilitate a total of 201 exam students from his institution, he was delighted to assist those from other schools

“We have over 200 children but we don’t have all children coming in at the same time. It therefore means that we would have classrooms that are available. I am of the belief that no child should be left behind and no institution should be left behind. We saw it fit to welcome other schools in the area that may be having some challenges,” said Hepburn.

“For Louise Bennett Coverley All-Age School, it was the natural disaster that occurred in November, so those children were being disenfranchised and we cannot have that happening to our nation’s future. When the opportunity came, we took it with open arms and we welcomed them and they are now a part of the family here,” added Hepburn.

When asked if he was confident about the effectiveness of the initiative, Hepburn said: “I am 100 per cent confident… being that we have the resources in place, Internet facilities — whatever they need to get learning done, we have it here.”

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