Hundreds of thousands of Jamaican students may be unable to tap into online learning because of inaccessibility to computers at home as the academic year gets under way today, Education Minister Fayval Williams has said.
The yawning vacuum in access to laptops and tablets – 400,000, according to the minister – forebodes a dire resumption for schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has upended face-to-face classes and could further marginalise children who are poor or who live in remote, hilly communities. Classes will also be aired on TV and printed materials delivered at drop-off points.
Speaking on Sunday during a two-school tour in St Ann, Williams said that more than 200,000 students had already logged on to the Learning Mangement System (LMS) – a portal that will be key to rigidly following syllabi and engagement with teachers.
That admission dovetails with the narrative of key teachers and principals’ stakeholder groups that have lamented that thousands of schoolchildren are in danger of being left behind.