Right move but…

Right move but…

Brown Burke wants clarity on decision to resume face-to-face classes in some school

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, November 02, 2020

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Opposition spokesperson on education Angela Brown Burke says while she has no issue with the Government’s plan to physically reopen some schools, there is need for greater clarity and transparency ahead of the planned November 9 resumption of classes at 17 institutions.

“My only concern is how it is being done. I hear the minister and prime minister saying they have a set of factors that they have considered, and in other jurisdictions those criteria are clearly articulated and identified, which then allows individuals to make a comparisons as to which parish, and which schools (are allowed to reopen),” Brown Burke told the Jamaica Observer.

“It’s extremely important for us to put the factors out, so that (other schools) can understand why they are not being included at this time,” added Brown Burke.

According to Brown Burke, there should be consultation in its truest sense on issues such as these.

“When we talk about consultation in Jamaica we like to talk about consultation simply by having a conversation with someone. I like to think that consultation as an exchange of ideas to the point where whatever the decision is, we are all aware and how our contribution would have contributed to the final decision and especially in education, I feel that is extremely important,” argued Brown Burke

The opposition spokesperson also said it is not clear what the plan is to resource the schools that are not up to par for online learning, which will still be a significant pillar in the education system going forward.

“We also want to know if there is a hybrid, if it is a choice (of online and physical attendance)…what is the audit like across the island for our schools in terms of their readiness for online learning, and the gaps that need to be filled. I think the transparency in that kind of information is glaring,” she added.

Brown Burke accepted that some school administrators do want to resume to face-to-face teaching and learning.

“Some really do, although there are still concerns. I don’t feel it should depend on whether they want to go back or they don’t, I believe that what we are doing is balancing the education concerns with the health concerns, and they are both important.

“Therefore, we need to have a conversation that puts all those issues on the table and allow for some amount of choices and also allow for, given the peculiarities at particular institutions, [what is] the best way,” declared Brown-Burke as she drew attention to the concept of self-paced learning which is being embraced in other countries by teachers and administrators.

She argued that in the current situation , even with access to the tools for virtual learning, some children may still be struggling.

“Even with online the question is, is it done in a way that allow students to move at a particular pace, [or] they have to go at the same pace with everyone? How are we making sure that education is student-centred, so that our students do not get lost in all of what we a doing?”

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