Gov’t concerned about Grade 6 students, says PM

 PRIME Minister Andrew Holness says that the Government is concerned that the current cohort of grade 6 students could fall behind as they transition to grade 7, because of the learning time loss associated with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Holness said that many students are not learning at the level, pace and stage at which they would be were they in the usual face-to-face learning situation, but that the Government is not going to allow that to affect the remainder of their education cycle.

“Whatever we have to do to catch up on what you [students] have lost and to ensure that you have the foundation skills to advance to higher learning, the Government is committed to ensuring that this is done,” he said.

“I want to give you that assurance, as children, and I want to give that assurance to your parents. It is something that is near and dear to my heart, and I am going to ensure that you are not adversely affected because of the measures that we have had to put in place to control the pandemic,” he said.

The prime minister was speaking to parents and students of the Calabar Infant, Primary and Junior High School in central Kingston during a tablet distribution ceremony in the community last Friday.

Holness, meanwhile, reiterated that the Government was developing a new framework for broadband Internet access across the length and breadth of Jamaica to ensure that every Jamaican household can access broadband Internet whether through wired service or wireless service.

He said that the planning is far advanced and the programme should be at an advanced stage of completion within two years.

He said that, in the short term, with the current level of Internet penetration, the other challenge would be to ensure children have the devices to get on to the digital highway as the current estimation indicates that about 70 per cent of learners have Internet access, but at varying speeds.

He also acknowledged that access and Internet speed will impact how well students do, which is why the Government will ensure that, despite socio-economic status, every student can access the internet.

The prime minister said that the Government is focused on getting to the 30 per cent with no access to the Internet. He said that in order to reduce this deficit more than 200,000 devices would need to be distributed.

He also pointed to an estimated 500,000 learners in the system, whom the Government wishes to focus on in the early childhood, primary, and high school levels.

He said the Administration was procuring 15,000 laptops for students between grades 10 and 13, and an additional 16,000 tablets for students between grades seven and nine. About 12,000 households have already redeemed vouchers under the Own Your Own Device programme, he said.





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