Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 21, 2020 (SKNIS): The Ministry of Education has ensured that students and teachers are able to benefit from the Flow Study Platform being used at this time to facilitate e-learning by providing electronic devices and internet connectivity for students and teachers in need.

“The Ministry of Education is taking critical strategic action to close the gap with respect to access to education during this period to the provision of resources to students and to teachers, said Dr. Tricia Esdaille, Senior Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Education, during the April 20 National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing.

Through surveys conducted prior to the closing of schools for the Easter break, the Ministry of Education was able to ascertain information on students and teachers who were in need of electronic devices and internet connection.

“The survey covered questions regarding children’s access to internet and electronic devices available for use in their homes,” she said. “The information was requested in an attempt to increase equity in access to continued education for all children through the provision of the necessary technology resources. Essentially, we wish to ensure that the number of children who could potentially be disadvantaged by e-learning due to the lack of resources is reduced.”

Additionally, teacher needs were evaluated through the survey, in particular the need for a device, internet connectivity in the home and the teachers’ familiarity with online learning and use of e-learning platforms “again with a mind to ensure that teachers would have the necessary resources and support to provide virtual education for our children,” said Dr. Esdaille.

The Senior Assistant Secretary said that the information was also used to develop a strategy for teacher training, which will begin officially on April 21, 2020. She added that the teacher training will focus on the use of Microsoft Teams, which has been selected by the ministry for use by schools for virtual education in the event of extended closure.

“A strategic approach to training will be implemented in phases, with teachers trained in cohorts or groups over the course of the next two weeks,” said Dr. Esdaille.

The Senior Assistant Secretary stated that with respect to devices and their deployment, priority will be given to persons identified through the survey who have a demonstrated need for a device.

Dr. Esdaille noted that the devices, which have been purchased by the Ministry of Education, are to be loaned to students and teachers “solely for the purpose of meeting the needs for continued education during the COVID-19 response.”

“Ultimately, the devices are the property of the Ministry of Education and will be managed by the ministry through its Education Management Information System (EMIS) Unit,” she said. “This means that the devices will be inventoried, set up with the necessary software inclusive of theft protection and all done prior to being made available to teachers and students for use.”

In addition, she said, the Terms of Use document will be utilized to establish an agreement between the Ministry of Education and the families and teachers who will benefit from their use during the COVID-19 continued education initiative.

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