Education Ministry to undertake initiative to engage unaccounted students
Christopher Serju, Senior Gleaner Writer
Education Minister Fayval Williams today told parliament that a special initiative is to be undertaken to re-engage students who have been unaccounted for since the resumption of classes on January 3.
Williams indicated that data collected over the period January 3 to 7 showed that 252,216 or 60 per cent of students in the public school system reported to school via one or more learning modalities.
“They were involved in orientation activities, psychosocial and empowerment sessions, assessment and other learning activities on a rotational basis.”
But the education minister disclosed that roughly 40 per cent of students did not access any classes during the first week of the new school term.
To locate and re-engage these students, Williams indicated that a programme called the 'Yard to Yard Find the Child Initiative' is to be operationalised, which will run until the end of March.
She said 580 youth workers under the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme and 108 social workers will be engaged to complement school-based teams the 478 public institutions islandwide to go yard-to-yard to find students and to reengage them in learning.
All public schools are now engaged in the reverification process of their unaccounted students.
A Family Connect App is also being developed as a tool to support the data collection and reporting processes.
Williams stated that Jamaica has to do what's necessary to address learning loss brought about due to displacement from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A recent World Bank study for Jamaica showed that the fiscal impact (over and above what we are currently spending) to support the health and safety requirements for opening our schools is going to be in the order of J$2.4 to J$3.9 billion annually for one to two years. This includes the cost of re-enrolment campaigns and outreach activities, providing targeted support for the most at-risk students, mitigating and preventing dropout, and facilitating remedial education to minimise learning loss,” she said.
“The World Bank concluded that the long-term cost of inaction is in the order of J$828 billion or approximately 40 per cent of Jamaica's GDP,” she told parliament.
Meanwhile, Williams pleaded to parents and guardians to get vaccinated.
“We seek the help of all Jamaicans, but in particular the parents and guardians, to help to keep our children safe. We are pleading to parents who have children in our primary schools, for whom there are no vaccines at this time in Jamaica, for them, please seek to get yourselves vaccinated so you can provide protection for yourself and for your children.
“To the parents of high school students, have a conversation with your children. Encourage them to take the vaccines. I give the same encouragement to all our principals, teachers, staff and all who work in the school environment and have to interact with our children, help us to protect them so they have the opportunity to recovery they learning they have lost. The future cost is too great.”
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