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A student under stress due to the demands associated with online learning

A tool to screen students’ mental health and determine if they are suffering from depression will be ready by the start of the third segment of the school term.

This was revealed by Government senator Clarence Rambharat in the Senate yesterday.

Replying to Opposition senator Wade Mark’s queries, Rambharat said the tool is being developed by the Ministry of Education.

“It will provide a snapshot of users’ mental health and will see if they have depression – it will identify students who are at risk for this.”

Currently, the ministry’s Assessment and Students Support Services identify issues barring students from receiving an education. But the tool is being developed given the COVID-19 environment.

At Joint Select Committee meetings earlier this year, it was revealed that many students are struggling with learning away from the classroom and adjusting to online learning.

It was also revealed that the Student Support Services Division cannot handle the volume of distress calls from students who because of the new learning system have experienced increased seizures and episodes, tantrums because of the prolonged use of the computers over the last year.

Away from the education system and on another matter, Rambharat said there is no shortage of livestock feed on the local market.

“In late 2020 and early 2021 local importers of grain experienced delays in their shipments due to delays in loading at the overseas ports. That situation has been resolved.

“The two issues which continue are rising grain prices on the global market and importers access to foreign exchange (FOREX) at the times needed to take advantage of dips in prices. One supplier, the National Feed Mills Limited (NFM), recently announced a 14 per cent price increase,” Rambharat said.

He added, “ The NFM isn’t a significant feed supplier to chicken producers but supplies feed to the other types of livestock. The 14 per cent price increase being passed on to feed purchasers now, is only a portion of the price increases the NFM and every other feed manufacturer faces, in particular on December 2020 shipments and shipments in 2021 so far.”

He said the other main supplier to the livestock market is Nutrimix and they have so far absorbed price increases and their prices continue to be lower than NFM’s.

“The local poultry sector continues to work with the Ministries of Trade and Finance on FOREX issues to stabilize prices and secure future grain shipments,” the Senator said.