Director of Curriculum Planning and Development at the Ministry of Education Anna Singh, left and Acting Chief Education Officer Lisa Henry-David during yesterday’s virtual JSC meeting.

While students in need and those facing exams are being given priority for electronic devices for schoolwork, a means test to be given to other students will examine if their household has devices or receives government grants.

This was indicated by acting Chief Education Officer Lisa Henry-David at yesterday’s Parliamentary committee meeting on the hybrid learning system.

Henry-David said devices are first given to students in need, including those doing exams. The Telecommunications Authority of T&T has offered 10,000 devices and there are 9,000 first for students in Standard Five and Forms Five and Six – they won’t have to take a means test.

As more devices are obtained, the ministry will offer them to other students based on the means test. This will examine information on students, including the caregiver’s financial information, number of people in the household, number of devices in the household and if persons receive government grants.

She said the means test will, however, take time to be formatted.

JSC member Rudy Indarsingh said he hoped students in households which receive a government grant won’t be debarred from getting devices.

Henry-David said TATT’s arrangement targets disadvantaged students in rural and inner-city areas and for service providers to connect where there’s no connectivity. She said providers are aware of underserved geographical areas. Interaction with those authorities will continue for the ministry to ensure all students are served.

Henry-David said there are challenges regarding special needs students who may require hands-on supervision and may not have devices, or their parents may have struggles in interacting with students in the capacity of educator. She said there’s need for training for teachers to engage with special needs students on device modalities.

Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools president Sherra Carrington-James said it was an onerous responsibility for a parent to pay for internet connectivity for their child’s device and a means test should be done to see who could afford that.

National Primary Schools Principals Association president Lance Mottley said many households are affected by socio-economic problems and the pandemic environment for many is a time to earn a livelihood to feed their children, rather than ensure they have devices. He recommended the ministry accelerate provision of devices and ensuring internet access, since north and south-east areas have internet access problems

On another issue, Henry-David said the final decision on how the regional CXC exam is held would be what the regional body decided, as opposed to T&T’s needs since T&T only has one vote at the regional grouping.

The Education Ministry’s Kamini Bhagaloo said SEA results show a two per cent drop in Maths results and a nine per cent improvement in English Language where 2020 results stood compared with 2019. She attributed the two per cent drop to the need to practice. (GA)