At the beginning of the virtual school term in September only 20 of the 120 students of Four Roads Government Primary School had access to devices to attend classes.
Most parents opted to receive weekly packages and communicated with their teachers via WhatsApp.
“Whoever home at the time will give her their phone to use,” one parent said.
“Ninety per cent of our parents can’t afford a device for their child,” the principal of Four Roads Government School, Denise Forde-Williams said.
On Wednesday that changed as three non-governmental organisations donated 55 tablets to students.
“We could not just sit back and not get involved,” coordinator Heather Welch-Jacelon told Guardian Media.
Through the Ministry of Education’s Adopt-a-School programme Welch-Jacelon rallied the Victoria Garden’s Residents Association, the Garden Club of Trinidad and the PAHO/WHO Staff Association to contribute the tablets to the students.
Welch-Jacelon said at first the charitable contribution was supposed to be done by the Garden Club only but when she found out how many students were in need she got other clubs involved.
“Now we only have 45 missing that would be a big difference to us because now the children can be online in synchronous learning with their teachers,” Forde-Williams said.
The principal said lately the school has been improving but was afraid the lack of devices available for students could derail the progress but said this contribution came at the right time.
She said the devices would be distributed to the senior students who are preparing for the Secondary Entrance Assessment.
“I also pinpointed some students who are at risk who I feel will benefit like I have some students in First-Year who I feel needed a little more support,” Forde-Williams said.
“This is such a relief,” another parent said.
President of PAHO/ WHO staff Association Joanne Charles hopes to contribute more devices by the end of the year as 45 students will still not have access to online classes.
It’s for this reason, President of the Garden Club of Trinidad Lorraine Agostini is calling on citizens to contribute whatever they can.
“These kids are our future, if you could donate a (sic) old laptop or an old tablet you’re not using you can contribute,” she continued.
Past president of the Victoria Gardens Residents Association Trevor Martin said he was unaware of the school’s challenges with online learning but opted to contribute along with other members as soon as they found out.
Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly thanked the good samaritans on behalf of the families they impacted. She said they showed the children the importance of serving others which she said are powerful lessons amid a pandemic. Gadsby-Dolly said T&T is grateful for their efforts.