A Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) survey has found that 86.5 per cent of educator respondents found teaching online more demanding than the face-to-face mode.
This was revealed on Tuesday by Education and Youth Minister, Fayval Williams, during her contribution to the 2022-2023 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.
For nearly two years since schools were shuttered on March 13, 2020, three days after Jamaica confirmed its first case of COVOD-19, classes moved mostly online. However, up to 120,000 students never engaged the system and teachers complained of distractions, including poor internet connections and inattentive students.
The survey also found that 91 per cent of the respondents rated the level of preparedness at their schools since full resumption of face-to-face classes last month as either fair (30 per cent); good (26 per cent); very good (22 per cent); or excellent (13 per cent).
“Yes, there was hesitation (about the full resumption of classes) among some schools. Some called for more time to get ready, (but) weighing all the factors, we made that transition back into face-to-face classes fully, and from all indications, that was the right decision for the education sector,” Williams told the House.
Meanwhile, she said the first order of business since classes resumed has been the recovery process.
“We know that while technology helped the majority of our students in the virtual classrooms, we also know that many of our students were not engaged on any of the platforms, and that the learning loss is beginning to show itself fully. We have, therefore, started the process of recovery,” Williams stated.
To address the matter of the learning loss, she told the House that the Ministry of Education “provided our schools with a suite of diagnostic tests for Grades 1 to 9 from as early as September 2021.
“Since then, other school-based formative assessments, designed to monitor student learning, have been administered as well. This is an ongoing activity which will be provided to all students as they return to face-to-face,” the minister shared.
She explained that having done these assessments, schools are expected to develop their intervention plans using the National School Learning and Intervention Framework (NSLIP), which has been developed by the ministry to guide curriculum management for schools. The NSLIP includes extra teaching time for students through summer school and extra lesson/homework programmes, psychosocial engagements, parental engagements, strict monitoring of attendance, provision of digital learning resources, a robust accountability framework, and focus on customised learning based on assessment data.
Williams said the schools are being assisted by technical teams, including student-support coaches, special education officers, curriculum officers, national numeracy and literacy coaches, and community relations officers, to implement the plan, track progress and address learning challenges.
“Through these approaches, school leaders will be better able to make crucial decisions about teaching and learning to get students back on their learning tracks.
“The structured intervention support for our students is part of recovery outlined in the NSLIP. Across the education sector, all of our principals and teachers know that it will take a deliberate focus on instructional leadership, fidelity to the implementation requirements of the National Standards Curriculum, a paradigm shift to self-directed learning, use of digital platforms and literal hand holding, for the corrective work to be sustained,” said Williams.