Residents of Rampanalgas believe that the Ministry of Education did not consider the livelihoods of people in their community before implementing the virtual school term.
“You’ll can do better for us up here in this area we have been put off for too long,” Crystal Maraj a resident of Rampanalgas said.
Since schools physically closed in March many children in the rural north-eastern village have not done any school work, even with the virtual school term well underway.
“Them ain’t doing nothing,” mother of eight, Krystal Charles said.
When Guardian Media visited several children were playing outside. Most attend the Rampanalgas Roman Catholic Primary School.
Charles said this was because many parents like her are unable to purchase the relevant tools for their children to attend classes.
“Right now, we have no money so we can’t afford to buy devices for the children them and then after you have to take the money to buy food for them,” she said.
“Things real tough on we end…real, real tough,” she continued.
Her children in the school system range in age from 6-years-old to 16, and one is preparing for the Secondary Entrance Assessment next year.
“They miss out a lot,” she said.
Charles said she was warned about her children’s absenteeism but said they don’t understand her situation.
“When the teacher say about the Social Welfare, I say let them come,” she expressed.
At another household in the village, a single father of three, Zaid Marshall is facing a similar situation.
With limited work, the 30-year-old man does odd jobs for a living and can be called out at any time so it’s difficult for him to supervise his two primary school children during their classes.
“Remember I had to go and hustle. You not really getting a good time with them children them, real pull and tug,” he expressed.
He has an old tablet but no internet, so he collects the packages at the school.
“Me ain’t have all that kind of brain to say like everything you see on the paper yuh could understand,” he said.
Marshall is not the only parent struggling to academically assist their children. Nicole Roberts-Charles said she was brought to tears when her grandson asked for help pronouncing a word she didn’t know.
“What them know I don’t know but does still try,” she said.
Roberts-Charles said that even though some of the parents can’t assist with the schoolwork, they make every effort to ensure their children get an education. She said while looking for tablets for her son and grandchildren, she found some for $150, a price she could have afforded but after she travelled all the way to Arima with money, all were sold out.
“When I come home I could not say nothing. He say mama you hiding it,” Roberts-Charles said, reenacting her grandson’s disappointment.
Adana Maraj a single mother of three, including a special-needs child, recently bought one tablet on hire-purchase but said it’s hard ensuring all her children attend classes and submit work on time because they all work at different paces.
She said before they got the tablet, they were using her cellphone.
“They’re complaining the screen too small (and) they can’t see,” she told us while imitating her children’s reaction.
Her sister, Crystal Maraj has two old tablets that she uses for children’s classes but no internet connectivity, so her son, who is in Form One, goes under a neighbour’s house during school hours.
“Michael has been leaving home really early to go under this ageable guy house whether rain falling or sun shining to Zoom every day,” Maraj said.
She told Guardian Media that the major internet providers told her there were no packages for Rampanalgas and the Huawei boxes are not strong enough for multiple Zoom classes.
“The problem is where he has to be to study. It’s not conformable…it’s not a study area but he lets it do,” she said.
The residents hope that someone will understand their situation and assist them in providing a better education for their children.
Anyone wishing to help can call 378-8059 or 372-1216.