Ministry of Education, Guyana

Monday, 12 October 2020 09:34

Fallout from OLPF abandonment being felt during pandemic

—visionless move by coalition says Education Minister

The APNU+AFC’s discontinuation of the One Laptop Per Family project initiated by the previous PPP/C Government is in the spotlight as technology assumes greater importance for education delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The issue came up on Monday during a meeting between Minister of Education Hon. Priya Manickchand and parents at the Good Hope Secondary School.

Neemawattie Baldeo, a parent of a Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) student, said she was feeling the strain of that 20201013 4

She continued, “My child has been recommended to write EDPM [Electronic Document Preparation and Management] and I can’t afford to buy a computer for her. My next step is to ask questions on how would I get this computer”.

Educator Denise Ifill told Minster Manickchand that she was saddened by the fact that half of her class has been disengaged as they do not have the learning resources to facilitate online learning.

“That programme had it been fully implemented and everybody had laptops in their homes it would have been hugely beneficial to us right now. It was replaced with nothing,” said Minister Manickchand.

The Education Minister added that the next step for the Ministry of Education, would have been to secure internet connection for students when the pandemic hit.

However, she noted that it is now difficult to provide both internet and other learning devices such as computers and tablets. Nevertheless, with the 2020 Budget, the Ministry is actively procuring and distributing tablets, with CSEC students as priority.

The OLPF programme was launched in 2011 by the PPP/C Government with the vision of promoting Information Communications Technology (ICT) opportunities to thousands of families 20201013 5

The APNU+AFC Government stopped the programme after taking office in 2015 and promised to substitute with a one laptop per teacher programme, which never came to fruition.

“It brings us back to a place where, when goods and services that would benefit you are being taken it is incumbent upon each person to speak up against that,” the Minister urged the parents, guardians and educators.

In addition, the coalition failed to maximise the Guyana Learning Channel Trust, which was similarly launched in 2011, by former president Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo.

Since entering office in August, the Education Minister has moved swiftly to rehabilitate the channel and funds have been allotted from a $300 million budget for blended learning approved by the Government recently.

The Learning Channel has since been broadcasting in several areas including hinterland and riverine areas which it had never touched before.


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