RADHICA DE SILVA
Just a week before the new school term begins, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly says 2,000 more devices will be distributed to deserving children over the next few days.
And as many parents struggle to buy books and stationery, teachers and principals from several schools have started distributing school supplies to families in need.
Speaking to Guardian Media, Minister Gadsby-Dolly said the Ministry has taken delivery of 20,000 devices.
“Of this, some 11,800 have been distributed to students thus far, with a further 2,000 to be delivered during the course of this week. This is after the donation of 22,000 devices through the Adopt-a-School Initiative,” she said.
All of the recipients of these devices were chosen after a means test was done in schools.
“Of the 23,000 applicants, over 6,628 did not submit the relevant documentation, and their Means Test application could not, therefore, be processed,” the Minister said.
She noted that 2,500 applications are yet to be processed and this should be completed while the distribution of 2,500 devices continues this week.
She noted that the MiFi devices have been procured through iGovTT.
“Delivery is anticipated at the end of August or early September for distribution to those identified as needing assistance in this regard from the Means Test,” she said.
The Minister added that as the schools reopen, the continuing assessment will be done to ensure that no child is left behind.
“Data will be collected from Principals about students who fail to engage in online classes early in the upcoming term, and where access to a device or connectivity is the issue, efforts will be made to bridge the gap,” she explained.
Meanwhile, several schools have continued assisting students.
At the Shiva Boys Hindu College, vice-principal Devinesh Neeranjan said stationery including notebooks, pens and other items also were being shared with needy students.
SBHC’s Environmental Science teacher Jaime Birbal has been assisting dozens of parents from across the country with school supplies at both the primary and secondary school levels. Her students from the school’s Interact Club haves been collecting used school books and distributing them to needy families.
All students are expected to return to school virtually next Monday. From October 1, only fully vaccinated students in Forms Four, Five and Six will have the option to attend face-to-face classes at schools once there is no significant change in the number of COVID-19 positive cases.
Although vaccinations are not mandatory at this time, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley hinted that this could change.
At a recent press conference, he said: “If at the end of the period we have set, which is mid-September, we look back on it and we see only a population of vaccinated pupils which is well below the herd immunity level of 60 or 70 per cent, then the government will have to act.”
Results for the Secondary Entrance Assessment exams are expected to be released by mid-September.