Sat | Jan 16, 2021

Letter of the Day | Our education system needs fixing

Published:Thursday | October 8, 2020 | 12:09 AM


Our education system is quite a misfit for the world of learning today. As the new school year has started, many students around the island who have been unaccustomed to these new devices and this new learning environment are caught in a web of confusion. As a result, many of the parents, especially in the rural areas, are left hell-bent on flocking to the schools to gain insight as to how to access the online platform set up by the ministry for learning. This is a new era in our development, for sure.

When looking at other nations, notably in northern Europe, students have been well advanced in comfort for the new learning environment. However, we cannot take the grass from the cow and expect the wolf to eat and feel merry. Our culture needs to adjust to this new normal. But how?

The simple solution should have occurred from January. A system should have been procured to maintain teaching and learning in March instead of a total lockdown. The Government has numerous individuals at its pleasure to make a request to design a system which would enable teachers to teach, issue tests and carry out lesson plans, and students to learn and socialise, all in the same place. Our young persons are capable as I have seen system trackers developed for COVID-19 cases and the general election results. But also, I note that young men from Jamaica College did meet with the prime minister to discuss robotics development. This is not something where we would have to outsource expertise. We would only need to assemble the team and get the job started. This could have also been funded with some of the transfer payments issued in April to fund this project.

Following suit, a mandate requiring the teachers to be present at the schools to ensure that at least on their end, they have access to electricity and Internet to conduct classes. Yes, some schools aren’t as equipped, which is why an upgrade is necessary. Trained technology assistance to be assigned to schools to ensure that the system is not lagged due to any teacher being unaware of how to operate in the new environment. This is how we live Vision 2030.

Training is essential to this process. All these things should have been developed earlier this year. It makes you wonder what was going on in the ministry. But let’s not get into that.


Finally, the student side of the equation. Our Internet providers and the Jamaica Public Service need to be called into a discussion with the Government to develop stronger tech cities and expand the broadband access across the nation. Stringent monitoring over the platform, sufficient procurement with book suppliers, device suppliers and liaison with councillors and other support staff is just the icing on the cake.

If this isn’t the ideal solution for our country, I don’t know what is. The fact is our culture is not conducive to change and our system hasn’t evolved to force that change. But we can get there and we can only look forward. The question is, will we?