Task force to find and help 8,000 students who were inactive on the virtual learning platform
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training is developing a number of strategies to deal with the loss of education since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These measures include diagnostic testing of every child in public school to determine the extent of learning loss.
In a national address last night, Education Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin said a Learning Recovery Committee had been set up to provide recommendations and develop strategies for appropriate responses and learning recovery programs.
She said these will primarily focus on the foundations of literacy and numeracy and give educators the opportunity to address many long-standing deficiencies in the education system.
Hanna-Martin said she has mandated a review of high school diploma requirements and curriculum reform, with greater emphasis on an improved platform for technical and vocational training, an education program more developed physics and a new history curriculum emphasizing Bahamian history.
Additionally, the overhaul will include a Creative Arts Feeding Program at a new Higher Institute for the Performing Arts which is currently under development.
Officials hope to focus on six main areas, including assessing student learning so that teaching can be targeted to students’ specific learning levels and needs; investing in digital learning opportunities for all students, ensuring technology is fit for purpose and focused on improving human interaction; and increase the share of education in the national budget allocation of recovery plans and link it to the investments mentioned above that can accelerate learning.
The Education Minister noted that education officials will also strengthen support that leverages the role of parents, families and communities in children’s learning and ensure that teachers are supported and have access high-quality, hands-on professional development opportunities, instructional guides, and learning materials.
Hanna-Martin also announced that the government has commissioned a study at the University of the Bahamas (UB), which is currently underway, to identify the factors responsible for learning outcomes in that country.
She said the results of this research will help guide future education policy for more positive educational achievement.
Hanna-Martin said the Learning Recovery Committee is responsible for identifying all children who have been absent from school for long periods and facilitating appropriate interventions to address learning loss and accelerate learning.
She noted that this might require engaging with higher education institutions for special programs for older students.
This working group includes education professionals, including special education and school psychology services, and involves the Department of Social Services and Urban Development; the Office of the Attorney General; the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC); the Department of Health and Wellness; the National Training Authority (NTA); representatives of the Bahamas Educators Managerial Union; the Bahamas Teachers Union (BUT); and the Bahamas Education Counselors and Allied Workers Union.
According to Hanna-Martin, the task force had 14 days to track down some 8,000 students who had been inactive on the virtual learning platform throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.