The Government has announced a plan to help students “recover smarter” from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which forced the closure of schools on March 13, last year.

Since then thousands of students have fallen behind in their learning, in large part because they do not have access to an electronic device or internet connectivity that would have allowed them to continue their learning online.

The Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Fayval Williams, announced the ‘recover smarter’ plan which is dubbed the National School Learning and Intervention Plan (NSLIP), during a statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

She explained that NSLIP, which has four components, aims to help students recover from the learning loss, and or gaps that they would have suffered over the past 15 months as a result of the pandemic.

The four components of the plan are:

National School Learning Plan (embedded in the daily school operations and school improvement efforts)

-National Summer School

-National Extra Lesson Classes

-National Homework Programme

Williams said NSLIP will allow for an improvement in the academic performance of students enrolled in the programme over the summer period and during the school year. She said it will also provide academic enrichment activities for students through its intervention framework.

The education minister admitted that despite the best efforts of the government, utilising various modalities, there is evidence that approximately 120,000 students have not been consistently engaged giving rise to learning gaps.

“Even those who were engaged may not have gotten the fulness of the teaching and learning experience,” Williams stated.

As to the exact number of students who have not been fully engaged over the past 15 months, the Opposition spokesperson on education, Dr Angela Brown-Burke believes it could be as high as 240,000.

Meanwhile, Williams emphasised that NSLIP is an attempt to mitigate the effects of the learning loss experienced due to COVID-19 and is designed to guide school administrators, regional authorities and the central ministry in the development and implementation of strategies which are intended to:

Assess learning gaps; improve student performance in core subject areas;  reduce learning gaps among students so that they are able to function at their grade level in core subject areas; improve the social and emotional well-being of all students through engagement in a character education programme and the provision of robust psychosocial support; and foster and engender improved school – home and school – community relationships through the inclusion of community-based programmes and activities in the delivery of all intervention programmes.

NSLIP will be implemented using a bottom-up approach, beginning with the development of school-level plans, which are to be reviewed and approved at the regional level, and supported through the provision of technical and financial assistance both nationally and regionally.

NSLIP will also be implemented through both face-to-face and online classes. Google Suites is to be utilised for the online element of the programme.

The programme benefits from the following: teacher support platform, additional staff, including the ability to engage final year teacher training institution students for intervention support as needed, based on the number of groups.

Online resources for students and parents, Government-funded in-person support in special cases.

Williams said the National Summer School Programme will commence on July 5.

And, in an effort to get public support and overall buy-in on the initiative, the education ministry will be hosting a virtual town hall meeting targeted at parents for the National Summer School/ Extra Lessons” initiative.

The town hall will be held on Wednesday, June 30 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Apart from Williams, panelists will be Dr Kasan Troupe, Chief Education Officer (Actg), Dr. Tamika Benjamin, National Mathematics Coordinator and Dr. Andre Hill, National Literacy Coordinator.

The programme specifics for the National Summer School, National Extra Lessons and the National Homework Programmes will be presented and discussed in detail at this town hall and  parents/guardians are invited to tune in and participate.

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