- The National Council on Education (NCE) commends the Government and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information on the bold step taken to vaccinate children 12 years and over.
- Reports indicate that about 60 percent of teachers represented by the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) have received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
- Any delay that would jeopardize or further hold up the delivery of the education product or endanger the health and safety of those employed in education, and most importantly, the learners themselves, must be stoutly resisted.
The National Council on Education (NCE) commends the Government and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information on the bold step taken to vaccinate children 12 years and over. This is a critical step in the right direction to prepare our children for a safe return to face-to-face teaching and learning. We urge the Government to prioritize the vaccination of children at the early childhood and primary levels, ages 3-5 and 6-12, respectively, as soon as the vaccines are approved and available.
The NCE COVID-19 Study of 2020 concluded that the return to face-to-face teaching and learning is critical, especially for students at the early childhood and primary levels of the system. Based on the results of the study, up to 50 percent of the students in some schools did not participate in any form of remote learning. Further, a major effect of the pandemic on the education sector is learning loss. Therefore, every effort must be made to stem the loss and get our children and students back on the path to pursuing their formal education.
Any further delay will result in more deleterious impact on student performance, which will be more difficult to reverse. The NCE reminds the public that underperformance is more difficult to reverse and that remediation is an expensive exercise. The Council continues to emphasise the need to ‘catch up now and not later’ in order to arrest the learning loss.
Reports indicate that about 60 percent of teachers represented by the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) have received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
This is indeed commendable. We note as well, from reports, that the JTA has been encouraging teachers to get vaccinated. The JTA’s leadership also wants a safe and quick return to face-to-face instruction in our schools.
The Council also commends the government’s strategy to prioritize the vaccination of students. It should be noted, however, that managing and securing the school environment and minimizing the spread of the virus, especially the delta plus variant, which is easily transmitted, requires that all categories of staff numbering about 51,000 persons in the school community, must be targeted for vaccination.
The Council is of the view that only a concerted, all-out effort and much determination will help to stem the aggressive rate of infection in the shortest possible time. In order to speed up the vaccination process, trained volunteers from across the professional spectrum including nurses in training and retired nurses should be invited to assist in administering the vaccine in schools.
In facilitating a safe physical learning environment by guaranteeing that all protocols are observed, the Council recommends that a blended teaching modality be implemented to manage, more effectively, the number of students who can be accommodated in the physical school environment. The construction of the “quick erect timber classrooms” will further facilitate social distancing protocols and assist with the ventilation problem being experienced in most of our schools.
Providing incentives that seek to encourage educators to become vaccinated as recommended by the Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, should not be treated as a mere transactional response. If this is the direction in which the country must go in order to reverse the vaccine hesitancy, the NCE urges the Government to proceed on that path.
Any delay that would jeopardize or further hold up the delivery of the education product or endanger the health and safety of those employed in education, and most importantly, the learners themselves, must be stoutly resisted.
The National Council on Education, a statutory organization, is the main policy advisory body on educational matters to the Minister of Education. It is also responsible for nominating persons for appointment to school boards, the training of school board members and conducting research to support its policy initiatives and the goals of the education system.
National Council on Education
Ministry of Education, Youth & Information
Caenwood Centre – The Media Building, Ground Floor
876-922-1400 Extn. 2031-2034 or 876-573-0286