Press conference by the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training – April 21, 2022. (PMO)

With Term III set to start on April 25 for teachers and April 26 for students, Chief Education Officer, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, is thanking all who made Term Two and face-to-face return to school “not only a reality but a success”.

This came today as she spoke at a virtual press conference that addressed procedures for yet another safe return to face-to-face school. 

Lauding the team from the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, principals, teachers, support staff and parents, she noted the role played by the Ministry of Health and Wellness in guiding them “every step of the way” as well as the Transport Board and the Alliance of Owners of Public Transport.

Stressing the Education Ministry looked forward to working again with these entities, having bi-weekly meetings with them as well as listening to challenges while putting measures in place to make schools even safer, Dr. Archer-Bradshaw revealed these stakeholder engagements, every two weeks, discussed progress, risks and improvements related school.

She highlighted that evaluation of risk was important to gauging whether it was safer for the students to be in school or out of school and said the Ministry decided that the risk of keeping children at home and online was too great with a lot of fallout and loss including social, emotional and general learning loss.

The Chief Education Officer, while also adding that the return to school was based on best information available, gave the assurance that the Ministry would be working with all partners in Education during this new school term to consistently evaluate and mitigate the risks and put plans in place to ensure children remained safe.

Looking across the region, she pointed out that a number of Caribbean countries like Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, The British Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Montserrat, and St. Kitts and Nevis were also emphasising opening in Term III and like Barbados, had possibly evaluated the risk.

Principals, management teams and teachers were commended for identifying ways to meet students at their points of need. Emphasising that they did what they could to identify, evaluate, build upon and consolidate students’ strengths and weaknesses,  Dr. Archer-Bradshaw stressed: “So, at the school level, the principals and the teachers have been addressing these situations and they have been meeting the students at their point of need.”

It was revealed that the Ministry would be developing further programmes to assist students at the levels of Class Three and Four to ensure that they gained help in building not only their cognitive abilities, but correct attitudes and other skills.

Stating that this would soon be rolled out and shared with the public, the Chief Education Officer added that with regard to students taking CXC, CSEC and CAPE, the Ministry had developed a Learning Development and Examination Success Preparation Scheme, that was already working quite well with a number of workshops having been conducted for fourth, fifth and sixth formers.

Pointing out that they also conducted surveys to determine the subject areas in which students may need help, she said seminars and workshops were also offered and Literacy and Numeracy clinics, which concluded today, would continue to be featured, along with other workshops in subject areas, as identified by students.

Dr. Archer-Bradshaw, who emphasised that the Education Ministry was addressing these deficiencies at all levels of school, shared that with respect to teachers, a collaborative arrangement with Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, had over the Easter Vacation, seen courses offered in areas including Leadership, Social Emotional Learning and with a good response.

And she said: “We recognise that we have to assist our students and we continue to put mechanisms in place to assist our teachers and our students.

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