COVID-19 ‘tremendous’ learning gap: Less than 30 percent of students registered for online platform

COVID-19 ‘tremendous’ learning gap: Less than 30 percent of students registered for online platform
Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd

Virtual Learning Platform to launch on Cable channel 295 and 296 next Wednesday 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said yesterday that the closure of schools due to the global coronavirus pandemic has created a tremendous learning gap in the country.

Lloyd revealed that less than 30 percent of students throughout the country have registered for the Virtual Learning Platform.

There are currently just over 26,000 students registered on the platform, however there are some 75,000 school aged students – 50,000 in public schools and  25,000 in private schools.

Of those registered students, there are 22,000 public school students, nearly 3,000 private school students and 518 students registered as home schooled.

“Where are the others,” he asked, during an update in Parliament on his ministry’s COVID-19 measures.

“It is suggested that there is a large swath of Bahamians that do not have interconnectivity or devices or both. It has been anecdotally suggested that we may have as many as 20,000 students not registered, who are in our schools who may have such a challenge.”

Additionally, Lloyd noted thousands of registered students have not been accessing the live platform for classes or engagement.

“Overall there are 12,885 who are attending school on a live bases, accessing the page on a live basis in the first week, but only 11,671 in the second week,” he said.

Lloyd announced that in order to mitigate these challenges, starting April 15, Cable Bahamas will dedicate channels 295 and 296 for the live broadcasting of educational content between 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday.

Programming will span three areas, including ” instructional, informational and character building”.

One channel will be specifically for students studying BJC and BGCSEs.

As for the challenges of access to remote online calluses for student displaced by Hurricane Dorian, in Abaco, Grand Bahama and other Family Islands, Lloyd said the government is seeing to supplement the One-on-One program already in place.

“COVID-19 has created a tremendous learning gap,” he said, “that if not addressed, can result in a potentially irrecoverable deficit for students in the Bahamian education sector”.

Lloyd added that the ministry does not know how many students in the private sector may not be receiving their education through a virtual learning platform.

“This is why we believe near 3,000 have registered on our virtual learning platform and there have been from the private schools many requests for general financial assistance, and now increased grant-in-aid subventions since Hurricane Dorian, when a number of the New Providence based private schools took in a number of displaced students, particularly students from Abaco.”

He said since the COVID19 pandemic many private institutions have been struggling with the provision of on- line classes, particularly for their students who have no internet connectivity.

Lloyd assured that the Cable Bahamas channels will enable all teachers in The Bahamas in public and private schools to access live, remote classes with their students for a period of two and a half months. 

The government announced the closure of schools on March 15, after the first confirmed case of the virus in the country.

Schools were closed until April 14, however, Loyd advised yesterday that they will remain closed until the prime minister announces a change.

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