FLASHBACK: Newly-appointed Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gabsy-Dolly addresses SEA students at the Gandhi Memorial Vedic School in Aranguez, San Juan, on August 20.

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With the new school term set to begin on September 1 and online teaching to begin by September 14, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly is appealing to corporate Trinidad and Tobago to assist less fortunate students with devices and internet access.

Speaking at a press conference at the Ministry of Education headquarters on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, Gadsby-Dolly said the new methods of teaching will be done via online classes, televised and radio-broadcast lessons and packages with coursework and assignments for students to complete at home. The packages can be completed and returned to teachers or schools once a week, Gadsby-Dolly added.

She said the time within which the teaching will take place is to be finalised but these teaching schedules will be made public between September 7 and 14.

Gadsby-Dolly said the school system has about 225,000 students and about one-quarter of those have no access to the online environment. She said the Government will be considering the provision of devices to students but the ministry is appealing to the private sector for help.

“We recognise that we have roughly 65,000 students who do not have access to the online environment. We are reaching out to the business community, to chambers, to alumni associations and we are asking corporate T&T to become involved in this effort,” Gadsby-Dolly said.

She said because the ministry recognises the need of these students, they have chosen a multi-pronged approach to home-based learning. But Gadsby-Dolly said the best replacement for face-to-face classes is online sessions.

“We will be writing to these bodies and asking them to donate what they can to the schools so as many children as possible can benefit from the online environment in these circumstances,” she said.

Gadsby-Dolly said during the new school term, teachers will be encouraged to work from home, once school principals give their approval. However, teachers will have access to school facilities if they need it, she said.

But the minister said for the new system to be successful, parents also need to play a major role in their children’s education.

“Parents will be expected to play a critical role in the supervision of their children, of course understanding that parents are out to work as well but that is why we are intending that the learning is not only synchronous…although, that there will be a timetable for those who are online and provided to your children.

“So it is expected that they will spend most of what used to be a normal school day engaged in work, it’s not a matter of being online at the same time, so if parents are out to work, then certainly after work hours parents can be engaged in checking up and ensuring that their children are fully engaged in what they should be.”