August 28, 2020
Written by Tasha Ann Miller
The level of preparedness by school officials and parents will not be enough to eliminate the fears of the lingering exposure of the Covid19 virus. Therefore, it calls for a united effort to help the students access their educational training without jeopardizing their safety. Principally, these measures will only be effective if there is consensus on all parties to play their individual roles to the best of their abilities. Therefore, The Hope Vision is proposing a ramp up in the use of technology to connect students in reach of their educational development.
Technology has been bridging the distance in most areas of the Covid19 recovery process since the onset of the pandemic. However, there is increased demand for idea generation in the area of education as children’s learning should not become another casualty of this pandemic. I have seen where technologies inclusive of social media public education, online access, and screen based marketing have helped to push the prevention measures for Covid19.
The prevalence of technologies in schools across Jamaica and the Caribbean will now launch into the inevitable awakening that has caught up with it. Processes all across the world are increasingly becoming digital, and the deficiencies with the access to technology in schools across the Caribbean are vast. The critical issues include developing lesson plans to incorporate the use of technology as general access is sometimes limited by the digital divide of urban and rural classrooms. Furthermore, it is an expansion of the stagnant rural development where these issues are not lobbied for as the educational goal is always to migrate to urban cities and support their economies with minimal contribution towards rural hometowns.
Comprehensive research has been done on the need for Information and Communications and Technology (ICT) in educational development across the Caribbean region, and although progress has been made, the margins of success are thin as the onset of the pandemic has highlighted.
The proposed reopening date for schools in Jamaica was scaled back to October 5th due to the increase in Covid19 cases. Furthermore, the discussion across social media continues to favor a January 2021 start due to health and safety reasons. The infrastructure of some schools across the island will not be able to expand to social distancing regulations; however, partnerships with churches and other spatial areas are some of the proposals by the Ministry of Education. This may be limited and the continuous review and monitoring of the project will be needed before and during the reopening stages.
The Hope Vision supports an October reopening with an increase in the budget allocation for education in the next fiscal year aimed at ramping up technology and infrastructure development of schools. The new normal of education will still be impacted by Covid19 whether or not there is an early or late start as their is no concrete timeline prediction for the eradication of the virus. The delay will be costly for the majority of parents who cannot continue supervised education at home and lack the facilities and resources for learning. However, the more realistic damage will be on the child or children who becomes a victim to the abrupt stop to their time- sensitive and sustainable learning ritual (education).
Furthermore, with advanced content development facilitated by the expanded reach when using technology, children should learn about health issues such as pandemics and other relevant content based on their age levels. This will ensure that the learning is always current to daily living. The balance with using technology, literature, and other resources for learning is to develop the minds of children to think and engage their understanding towards problem solving.
The Hope Vision will continue to monitor the progress towards the return of some normalcy to the education sector. Furthermore, I will continue to share the base of learning technology and techniques that are used across the world to adjust to this evolving age in educational development.