Stakeholders to collaborate on decision to reopen schools -Minister Manickchand

Minister of Education, Hon. Priya Manickchand says preparations are being made for schools’ reopening despite there being no timeframe in place.

Minister Manickchand addressed the issue during an interview on Hits and Jams’ 94.1 Jumpstart programme yesterday.

She said the decision to reopen schools requires collaboration with stakeholders.   

“Within the course of this week, we would be consulting and taking a position at the Cabinet to determine when we want to go back out and that will be fully informed by not only me, but Ministry of Health, Local Government who runs education in the various regions,” Minister Manickchand said.

She also reminded listeners that the Ministry of Education does not determine how money is spent in the various regions in schools. However, she said, this time around the Ministry has had a more hands-on approach by outlining priority areas for the reopening of schools across the country. This includes considering the recommendations made by teachers, parents and students.

With that, Minister Manickchand said, hand washing stations, adequate ventilation and spacing are some of the matters being addressed, especially for CSEC and CAPE classes. Those classes are likely the first to return to school.

One of the global concerns surrounding the pandemic is learning loss by students, which is something the Government is trying to minimise.

“The timetable has not been set, but children have been engaged across the country in various ways as we did not have a one-size-fits-all approach,” Minister Manickchand stated.

“Even with all of that,” she added, “we do not control how and when CXC sets exams. We have had conversations with CXC from my level to the level of the Registrar and the body about what they are going to do with 2021 CSEC exams. While they said very clearly, a decision has not been made but we still see a timetable published, we have to be ready.”

As it relates to the local exams such as the National Grade Six Assessment, the Minister said the Government will determine how and when those exams will be given.

“There are tons of options including writing it much later, doing only a particular paper, not writing it at all, testing up to a certain level; we have a range of options. That is our exams and in consultations with teachers, parents and students, we will make the best decision,” the Education Minister stated.

However, she said, keeping students and teachers safe will need to be a collaborative effort. The Government’s responsibility, the Minister said, is to educate them on best practice to stay safe. The aim will be to have them wear their masks correctly, practice social distancing and to wash their hands frequently on their return to schools.


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