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Virtual class registrants double to 41,000

EyeWitness News Coronavirus May 1, 2020 at 12:30 pm Royston Jones Jr.

Education officials further developing remote learning program for better oversight

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government’s virtual learning program launched in March to bridge the education gap created by COVID-19 has doubled its registrants in the last month.

Director of Education Marcellus Taylor told Eyewitness News over 41,000 students had registered for the program, with an average of 16,000 students engaged in learning content on a daily basis.

In late March, there were around 11,000 students participating on average.

When asked whether education officials were satisfied with the level of participation, Taylor said: “It is not what we would want, but I think it is encouraging because it is all moving up positively.

“I think another dimension that we are unable to measure right now is how many people watch what comes on Cable (channel 295), but that’s another means of accessing learning.

“We still have a lot of things being done by the teachers.

“We will start to collect that information to have a better sense of how many students are getting instructions directly from their own teachers as opposed to a platform.

“All of these are collective efforts and I think as time goes on — when this thing first came up, I think a lot of people saw it as a temporary thing; being off for a week or two and they treat it as vacation.

“But I think people are now realizing this thing is going to be longer than we thought.”

All schools were closed on March 16 after a case of COVID-19 was confirmed.

The decision to close school campuses, where high levels of social interaction occur among children, was made in an effort to prevent community spread of the virus, particularly among vulnerable groups.

The government launched its virtual learning program for primary school students through to secondary students of all grade levels to bridge the learning gap created by the closure.

The program was activated in late March.

Asked about the challenges for students to engage in learning in the home and how it compares to the pace of learning on school campuses, Taylor said education officials expect parents to ensure their child learns during this period.

He acknowledged that some parents do not have the wherewithal to manage that process or their homes are not conducive for learning.

“For some children, the best structure they get in their lives is when they come to school, and maybe not as much in the established private schools, but certainly to a lot of the students who we cater to,” Taylor.

According to Taylor, officials were working closely with developers to increase the back-end oversight and create a better management system for the virtual learning program to ensure classes are being taken and “no one is left behind”.

By the end of April, more than 20,000 students had registered.

Eighty percent of the enrolled students attended public school; 10 percent attended private schools and two percent were home schooled, according to education officials.

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