Last Updated on Friday, 14 August 2020, 16:35 by Denis Chabrol
Minister of Education Priya Manickchand on Friday announced that the scheduled reopening of schools on September 7 has been postponed due the increased cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
No new date has been fixed.
The minister made this announcement on Friday through the Department of Public Information (DPI) explaining that the decision was made after wide consultations were held with stakeholders across Guyana.
“All schools shall remain closed to face to face teaching of the month of September, while we continue to review and evaluate the evolution of the disease and our school’s readiness,” she explained.
During those consultations, it was discovered that most students have not been academically engaged in a “structured manner” from March to now.
“We’ve been told that there has been tremendous loss of income of families and of the worry of parents, teachers and community leaders that this may result in premature school leaving or drop-outs with students not completing their education,” the minister added.
However, Ms. Manickchand noted that in order for schools to be reopened, there needs to be enough masks for both students and teachers, hand-washing facilities, and social distancing needs to be practiced.
Minister Manickchand said parents who have adopted alternative methods to teaching their children are encouraged to continue and seek help from the ministry where needed to improve while the education ministry works on content and other areas and the physical environment of schools.
Despite the current challenges, Ms. Manickchand said her ministry is actively looking at using a more blended, multi-faceted learning approach in the coming months.
“We will have to tailor our approach based on the epidemiological patterns, physical spacing, internet connectivity, television reception, teacher availability and a range of other measures,” she added.
Meanwhile, she said her ministry is currently engaged in developing curriculum content to be broadcasted on the Guyana Learning Channel. Plans are also being made to expand the reach of the channel to areas it never went before. Added to that, the creation of learning kits and packages with print and other material to deliver to specific categories of students are also being developed for online education.
The minister also made a commitment to have teachers re-trained as far as possible to deliver education in the context of COVID-19, which could see schools being reopened on a rotation basis and all academic school terms being adjusted. “These are all matters we are still examining, albeit with urgency,” she added.
Ms. Manickchand said she is hopeful that a more comprehensive plan could be announced on or before the second week of September. The education minister reminds that all decisions are subject to an evaluation of the pandemic which may or may not change some plans.