Adjusting to the virtual school term that started back in September has proven to be challenging for many groups for various reasons across the country.
One such group is parents. That’s according to Bishop Claude Berkley of the Anglican Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago who, while speaking on CNC3’s the Morning Brew Programme said, “Some parents are having some extra-ordinary challenges first of all with the material itself.”
Bishop Berkley said another issue realised from work done on the ground by the Anglican Diocese was that parents were having difficulty finding the time to assist children with their classes and also adapting to the new normal.
“If I don’t understand I simply contact the teacher to explain to me a little more. It’s a task especially if you have your own work as well,” one parent said via a social media post.
Another said, “Joggling working from home and online school can be challenging at times, as small children still need assistance.”
Bishop Berkley said the Anglican Church through the work of the Mother’s Union started rounding up parent groups in an attempt to see which area can parental engagement be intensified during this virtual school term but even that had challenges.
“It’s a matter of timing, it’s a matter of the parents seeking to earn a living and trying to survive as against providing the necessary support,” he said.
The bishop said parents want to be involved but they are heavily challenged in so many ways.
“How do we divide the time, the opportunity and the focus,” he asked.
The Mother’s Union is an international religious organisation with members all over the world. It was started in 1876 and is active in 84 countries. Each branch does charitable work based on the needs of its community. In Trinidad and Tobago, the Mothers’ Union runs a children’s home among other charitable work such as supporting impoverished families and literacy programmes.
Bishop Berkley said approximately 75-80 per cent of students in Anglican schools have been participating in classes whether online or through packages this term but the remaining 20-25 per cent have been unreachable.
“The issue of how to access packages, the reason for lack of connectivity options and further than that lack of devices,” he said.
But the bishop said his team is not giving up and has been working on ways to ensure no child is left behind.
Fifty-nine primary schools are run by the Anglican Board with 13,485 students.
“Even yesterday we had a meeting and it was quite heartening to hear of the have a summative sense of the efforts, options, initiatives that are being made,” he said.
While the education barrier is a problem for some parents, according to Bishop Berkley some of those who do understand have been prompting their children.
“Independent learning seems to be challenged…you in a situation in which sometimes the parents are answering on behalf of the child,” he said.
Bishop Berkley said the possible reopening of physical schools on February 8 for Standard Five students is a good idea and he supports it.
“Also, to give us a feel as to how the rest of engagement will be,” he said.
He also supports the S.E.A exams for next year.