Wed | Feb 1, 2023

Williams touts new approach to education

Published:Wednesday | October 7, 2020 | 9:36 AM
Education Minister Fayval Williams - File photo

The provision of psychosocial support for students tackling the rigours of virtual learning for the first time was a priority for her administration, Education Minister Fayval Williams told Tuesday’s sitting of Parliament.

She explained that the new school term, which saw students engaging in classes from their homes and receiving the teaching and learning experience in a number of different approaches (online, by audio/visual means utilising television, cable network and radio) and the Ministry’s Learning Kit with their textbooks and worksheets, dictated a new approach.

“We directed our schools to make the priority for yesterday, today, and tomorrow the psychosocial support for our children. Schools were directed not to rush back into the subject lessons right away on day one. We asked principals and teachers to develop psycho-social sessions to ensure that the students are in the right state of mind.”

She pointed out that on television and the Ministry’s eHome network, guidance and counselling teams had devotion and psychosocial sessions in recognition that students have been out of school for more than six months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and during this time would have been affected by the lack of interactions with their peers and teachers.

“Some of our children would have lost family members. Some may have had to be relocated from their familiar surroundings. Some might have witnessed violence in their communities and had other disruptions in their families. The psychosocial sessions are meant to address the children’s mental health and well being, improve their capacity to cope with the emotional challenges, and help to mitigate the impact of the stressors in their environment.

“This new approach was in recognition of the fact that distressed children may regress in behaviour, particularly at younger ages.  Older children may revert to play from a younger age, resume an old habit such as thumb sucking or rocking, or become more dependent and fearful of separation from the parents or caregivers.  

“Adolescents can be particularly vulnerable when the gradual gaining of independence from the family is disrupted. Given that a large majority of our children are not in the school environment in which teachers and guidance counsellors would have been able to spot these changes, parents and guardians have to be vigilant on an hour by hour basis to these subtle changes in their children and seek the help from the guidance counsellors at the school level,” she warned.

Williams also advised that clinical service providers are also available to provide counselling, psychosocial and empowerment sessions for students, staff, and parents.

She also disclosed that based on the updated figures she received on Tuesday, every student on the PATH programme in Grades 4, 5, and 6 will be able to get a tablet.

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