Press conference at the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training. (Media Resource Department Barbados)

The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training is awaiting direction from the Ministry of Health and Wellness on whether it can proceed with the hosting of its Bounce Back Summer School Programme (BBSP).

This was revealed by Acting Chief Education Officer, Joy Adamson, during a press conference held at the Ministry, on Friday, to give an update on the initiative developed to provide remedial instruction to students in Infants A through to Class 3.

The programme is part of the Ministry’s efforts to assist the student population disadvantaged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ash fall from the La Soufrière volcano in neighouring St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The sessions for students in Infants A and Infants B were originally scheduled to begin on Monday, July 19, and end on Friday, August 6; while those for Classes 1, 2 and 3 were set to run from Monday, August 9, to Friday, August 27.

Mrs. Adamson explained: “Based on the recent directives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, there are to be no summer camps for the next two weeks, this week and the following week. This means that the identified start date of July 19 for the Infants A and Infants B [classes] would now have to be adjusted. But the new date will be influenced by the future directive from the Ministry of Health and Wellness. The Ministry cannot state a date now until we get further direction.”

She gave the assurance that in the event the restriction on summer camps was extended, the Ministry of Education “will still put measures in place for these students who we know would have lost a lot to ensure that when they return to school there is time for some form of remediation”.

Under the Bounce Back Summer Programme, participants are expected to benefit from face-to-face instruction in core subjects, i.e. Language Arts and Mathematics, as well as a social and emotional learning component. Students will also have the opportunity to engage in the arts and educational tours, among other activities.

Approximately 2,400 students have expressed interest in participating in the programme. According to Mrs. Adamson, this represents “about 15 percent of the five cohorts: Infants A, Infants B, Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3”.

The Acting Chief Education Officer explained that the BBSP would be conducted at 13 centres identified in northern, southern, eastern and western zones. Registered students have been assigned to the nearest centre based on their school location. However, allowances would be made for students to attend the centre most convenient to them, wherever possible.

In addition, 354 persons have answered the call to volunteer as facilitators. Of that number, 168 are teachers, while the remaining 186 comprise retired educators, students from Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, university graduates, social workers, psychologists, and other persons interested in giving service to the nation.

Mrs. Adamson noted that the non-teaching volunteers are set to undergo training next week, and “will be paired with teachers to assist with the instruction and delivery”.

The education official also disclosed that the Ministry would be assisting principals to “plan a course of action” for students for the upcoming academic year.

Meanwhile, Director of the Ministry’s Education Reform Unit, Dr. Idamay Denny, revealed that their efforts would be bolstered through a regional model learning recovery and education programme, called ‘Let It Rip’.

This initiative is a collaboration involving the Caribbean Development Bank, the CARICOM Secretariat and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Secretariat. It has been created to address the impact of the disruptions across the regional education system, mostly resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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