Education Minister Dr Justin Valentin visits schools at start of second semester |27 July 2021
Brings support and encouragement to teachers, managers
Head teachers, management staff and teachers from Bel Ombre primary and Belonie secondary schools yesterday morning had the opportunity to meet with Education Minister, Dr Justin Valentin and key education officials to share their concerns and challenges in the wake of the persisting Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister Valentin and his delegation began the first of a series of visits to various state schools yesterday morning following the start of the second semester.
The aim of these visits is to bring support and encouragement to schools which have reopened for the second semester in spite of the different challenges and constraints of the pandemic and to thank them for their efforts in trying their best to handle the pandemic the best they can.
“We acknowledge that you have gone through a terrible time, but we also acknowledge that you have gone through this journey successfully,” began MinisterValentin during his first stop at the Bel Ombre primary school after he sat down with the management of the school.
One key issue raised during that meeting was that students and parents are not taking online classes seriously.The head teacher of the school, Stella Payetsaidsince the new school term started, students are coming in with uncompleted work or without their school work and that one quarter of the school is having problem with online learning.
She noted that parents are not as cooperative as they should be which in turn makes their children fall behind in their online schooling.
Minister Valentin said Bel Ombre is not the only school facing this issue and added that teachers and parents need further training on how to handle virtual learning so that everyone knows what to do and what the expected outcomes are.
Another issue that was brought to the attention of the minister is that many children who have become of age to start school do not have the proper development to go from day care to crèche as some kids do not have the proper speech and behavioural development as other kids.
The special educational needs coordinator pointed out that parents are in denial that their children are slow and thus they are not giving their children the proper psychological help they need and there is so much school can do.
Following the meeting, Minister Valentin toured the school campus and got the opportunity to interact with a few teachers and pupils.
“The visit has been very encouraging as we faced many challenges in the past two years from the pandemic, but with the constant support of the ministry we managed to overcome it,” said Mrs Payet to the press.
She added that the visit also gave them the opportunity to discuss some issues they are facing at school level such as the internet which is so slow that they are unable to log into the Renaissance reading programme to access books.
Furthermore, the headteacher claimed that for this term they have a well-equipped team to manage the pandemic at the school.
Since the school year began, Bel Ombre primary has had nine students infected by the coronavirus and so far two staff members are in quarantine.
The education minister’s next stop was at the Belonie secondary schoollocated in the former National Institute of ScienceTechnology and Innovation (Nisti) headquarters. There again the main issue the school is facing is in regards to students not taking their online classes seriously.
They also discussed how to navigate the curriculum in case there will be any final exams this year.
Talking to the press following the meeting, the head teacher of Belonie secondary, Medge Nancy said the school is very well prepared to deal with the pandemic as they conducted a rapid antigen test on Saturday to make sure that all teachers test negative which they did, she also noted that not many students are on quarantine.
Regarding the resumption of face-to-face learning, Ms Nancy noted that this week they will be going over the work that they had been doing virtually and following that, they will cover the syllabus to the maximum.
She ended by asking parents to be more supportive and cooperative when it comes to the education of their children.
After his visits, Minister Valentin saidhe wanted to meet with management of the schools to support them on the way they are managing and handling the pandemic and the way they are conducting teaching during this new normal, something they should be proud of.
“What I have seen is that these two schools have done a fantastic job in the past six months. I also got a chance to speak to the teachers and management and they brought up how disappointed they were at the fact that parents are not cooperating with the schools and their children aren't doing the necessary amount of work at home,” saidMinister Valentin.
He added that the next step now is to talk to the community about distance learning as they may not be aware what it is andalso stated that going forward schools will have parents sign forms that legally state their responsibility when it comes to the education of their children and if they do not adhere to these they will face legal actions.
The visit ended with the minister touring the Belonie secondary school campus.
The accompanying photos were taken by photographer Thomas Meriton.