Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly

The Ministry of Education is currently considering a proposal to Cabinet to purchase laptops for students to assist with online classes.

The confirmation came from the newly-appointed Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly who told Guardian Media nothing has been finalised as yet.

“Yes, one is currently being considered,” she said of the proposal.

“The equipment has not been ordered. The proposal has to be submitted and considered by Cabinet that has not been done at this time,” Gadsby-Dolly said.

The exact number of laptops being considered for order was not confirmed.

However, back in April the Ministry of Education found that approximately 60,000 students could not access online classes.

Our sources put the figure at 120,000.

“Now that I don’t have a computer or a laptop or any access to internet it’s hard to cope,” one form three student told Guardian Media back in April.

On March 13, the Prime Minister announced the closure of all schools as the country dealt with the first wave of COVID-19.

Students were required to access the classes online through the School Learning Management System.

Former Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh blasted the Government for the suspension of the laptop programme back in 2015 and the handling of the education sector during a pandemic.

Dr Goopeesingh said the Government took a retrogressive step by suspending the programme adding that if it continued, 60,000 students would not be unable to access online classes.

Since March, schools have not physically reopened, except for students sitting the SEA exams.

Classes will remain closed for the rest of the year.

The Minister will meet with stakeholders later this week to ensure that classes can reconvene in January.

“Primary on our agenda right now is the starting of teaching and learning,” she said.

TTUTA’s president Antonia Tekah-De Freitas said she is looking forward to meeting with the new minister in the coming days.

Tekah-De Freitas told Guardian Media the reopening of schools in 2021 will be determined on how the caseload looks then.

“We all need to take personal responsibility and follow the protocols,” she said.

She agreed that the provision of laptops to students can assist with the resumption of classes in January 2021.

“The issue of providing laptops is a critical one,” she said.

Tekah-De Freitas said even if face-to-face classes resume, laptops should be provided for students who do not have.