Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, has announced a ‘Recover Smarter-National School Learning and Intervention Plan’ aimed at helping students to recover from learning loss due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
It includes the previously announced National Summer School, which will begin on Monday (July 5), and a National Extra Lesson Classes/National Homework Programme.
The Minister, in a statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 29), said that the plan will allow for an improvement in the academic performance of students over the summer period and during the new academic year. It will also provide academic enrichment activities for students.
Minister Williams noted that the initiative is designed to guide school administrators, the regional bodies and the central Ministry in the development and implementation of strategies to assess learning gaps; improve student performance in core subject areas; and reduce learning gaps among students from grades one to nine so that they are able to function at their grade level in core subject areas.
It is also intended to improve the social and emotional well-being of all students through engagement in a Character Education Programme, the provision of robust psychosocial support, and fostering improved school, home and wider community relations.
Minister Williams noted that despite the Education Ministry’s efforts to ensure minimal disruption to teaching and learning, there is evidence that approximately 120,000 students have not been consistently engaged, and that even those consistently engaged may not have received the fullness of the teaching and learning experience.
“Without being addressed, these learning gaps are likely to adversely affect students’ progress as they move throughout the system. The Recover Smarter – National School Learning and Intervention Plan is designed to support the Ministry in identifying and addressing learning gaps and support schools in efforts to get students back on track with their studies,” she noted.
Minister Williams said that the plan will be implemented through both face-to-face and online classes, and will engage additional staff, including final-year students at teacher-training institutions.
Further explaining how the initiative will be rolled out, Ms. Williams informed that all students in grades one to nine will be required to sit a standardised diagnostic assessment, which will indicate their level of understanding in response to each item on the test.
The schools will receive an analysis of individual student responses and a summary of the total number of responses at each level.
For the National Summer School Programme, this will begin using already existing performance statistics and once the diagnostic test data become available, this will be used to further guide support for summer school and beyond.
She noted that the Ministry will be partnering with various service providers, who will use their existing platforms to carry out the daily lessons and activities. The service providers will identify, recruit and deploy trained teachers, including retired teachers, who are willing to participate in the initiative as tutors, and available final-year teachers’ college students as assistant tutors.
As it relates to the National Extra Lessons/Homework Programme, the Minister noted that the objectives are to reinforce the regular day programme by providing targeted opportunities for authentic learning and application/practice of skills and knowledge taught during the school day, and enhance learning by providing experiences that the school day may not be able to adequately supply.
It also aims to promote a model of learning that can ignite the interest and curiosity of students, so they can carry this excitement back to their regular classrooms and to build the confidence of the students, leading to improvement in day-school class participation.
“The National Extra Lessons/Homework Programme will be delivered primarily via online platforms, which will be commissioned by the Ministry. Service providers will be required to manage both online and face-to-face engagement,” Mrs. Williams informed.
The Education Minister encouraged parents to help their children by ensuring that they attend the summer programme and participate in the extra lessons and homework programme in the new school year.