NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Education officials remain very concerned over the likely impact COVID-19 social distancing requirements and protocols will have on the education system going forward.
Education Director Marcellus Taylor lamented that regardless of what approach is taken “there will be a deficit” as a panelist on the Financial Voice television program.
Taylor acknowledged that COVID-19 social distancing requirements and protocols will present a ‘big challenge’ to the education system.
“As long as we are required to maintain social distancing and observe all these protocols it will be a challenge,” he said.
“It is going to require us to either have more space and more teachers to accommodate students or we will have to go to a model that does not permit use to utilize or students to access schooling in the same way we did. This would mean that we have to do things differently.
“Whatever we do there will be some type of deficit; either lost instructional time or these these major issues around duty and care for children.”
Taylor said: “For some children school is the safest place that they spend their time. If they are going to be spending more time away from school, parents are working or the home is not structured in a way to provide care and guidance then we’re going to see a real deficit in terms of what it is we could deliver in education.
“We are trying to see how we can utilize blended learning approaches so that even when children are away hopefully they can still access some education but we all know the challenges with that.” Taylor noted that many children do not have access to the internet, the necessary devices nor a structured home environment.
Addressing the controversy over the upcoming national examinations, Taylor said the issue was one of ‘social justice’.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis recently announced that national examinations are expected to be held on July 13 – after weeks of uncertainty.
The announcement of the new date has been met with mixed views, with dozens of teachers, parents, and students voicing their concerns over the readiness of students to take the test.
Defending the decision to proceed with the exams, Taylor said: “We have to be clear on what these national exams are and what they do. They provide people with certification and credentials to move on in life.”
Taylor continued: “We see it in the Ministry of Education as a social justice issue. If we deny people the opportunity to get credentials, we could be disarming them not just for this short term but through there life.
“Once people leave school things happen and getting back the qualifications might be more problematic than riding through the storm now and getting them.”