Williams calls for help in delivering schoolwork
Acknowledging that many students across Jamaica will not be able to access lessons virtually, Education Minister Fayval Williams has invited businesses and others to partner in transporting learning material across the country to drop-off points for children who cannot access online classes.
Williams said that the ministry was doing everything in its power to ensure that no child would be denied the opportunity to participate when schools reopen on October 5.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, students will stay at home and receive instruction from teachers online. Students will also be able to receive lessons on dedicated television and cable channels.
In a Gleaner interview on Wednesday, Williams made an appeal to Jamaicans to reignite the spirit of volunteerism by partnering with the ministry to get printed material to students who have no online access.
“Persons with businesses across Jamaica who have to take goods to those entities ... if you have trucks or cars going out across Jamaica, we would love for you to let us know because those can be drop-off points for the material going out,” said Williams.
Volunteers and businesses are being encouraged to call the Ministry of Education or contact Williams directly at 876-833-1851 or via WhatsApp on the same number.
Giving details on how the process would work, Williams said that the lessons to be delivered to students have worksheets associated with them.
“They will be picked up (from students), given to the teacher who will grade and return to the students with the new two weeks’ worth of lessons as a way of ensuring that all our students, wherever they are in Jamaica, get some form of formal education.”
With more than 900 schools across the country and some located in deep-rural communities, Williams indicated that it required a significant logistical effort to move the material to all areas.
In an earlier presentation at a ceremony to hand over mathematics resources worth $100,000 to August Town Primary School in her St Andrew Eastern constituency, Williams bemoaned the high failure rate in the subject, noting that the problem was particularly severe with boys.
“If you look at the PEP results, ... they are failing badly. More than 50 per cent of the boys fail math, and even though the girls do a little better, the results are not significantly better,” she said.
Williams said that the ministry would be setting goals for improved performance in mathematics on an annual basis.
“The Mathematics Unit at the ministry has a mandate to improve the country’s performance and overall appreciation for the subject.”
Dr Tamika Benjamin, national mathematics coordinator, said that the ministry has employed several strategies that have yielded some improvement but “we are still not where we want to be.
“We need to change the approach we use to teach the subject. It needs to be more hands-on,” she said.
She said that the ministry was moving to shift the approach at the primary level by deploying specialist teachers to deliver the subject.