Robinson questions school tablet program
The government’s pilot tablet program is just a band-aid for the gaps in the country’s educational system and the money used could have been more efficiently spent, said Bains and Grants Town MP Travis Robinson.
Robinson initially commented on the matter while appearing on a recent episode of “On the Record” with host Jerome Sawyer.
“In relation to the tablet thing, unfortunately for me, I don’t buy into the vision,” Robinson told Sawyer.
“…I think there’s a lot more to be done. Giving children/preschoolers tablets and say, ‘Hey yeah take that go ahead and learn’. It’s a good direction to be going into and I applaud the effort but I don’t think in no way that that will be the fix-it bound to the problems we are facing in education.”
When contacted this week to elaborate on those comments, Robinson said while he congratulates the government for taking the initiative to introducing technology within the classroom, there are far more pressing issues that also need to be addressed.
“I know that the private sector had a lot to play inside the investment of the tablets, and, so, I certainly applaud the private sector for their investment and participation as well, but I think that any resources that the government is using for ‘technology in the classroom’, I think personally, would be best utilized in terms of perhaps increasing teachers’ pay,” he said
“I think for many, many years teachers have been underpaid in our country consistently and I think that would perhaps help to boost their enthusiasm and morale in the education system, or even just invest those resources into the further development and reconstruction and remodeling for the classroom facility.
“You know tons of schools today are dilapidated in its physical [appearance], so we have a long way to go in terms of that development as well.
“And when you look at the ratio of students to teachers, some schools you have 30 plus to upwards of 40 students per teacher.
“So, with this technology, students are not taking these devices at home to their environments where they can practice and learn this new direction or phase that they are being taught in the school system, so that poses a challenge as well.
“Again I applaud the government on its quest to try to introduce new ways of teaching for the students, but we still have a long way to go and that is in no way the fix it bound. It only helps more to put a band aid on the already existing problems.”
Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said in August that the government budgeted $5.5 million for technology upgrades this year, which would seek to put tablets in the hands of every preschooler and primary school.
He said at the time that the government secured funding for 85 percent of those tablets and were looking for sponsors to assist with the others.
He noted that by the end of June 2019, every school would be a smart school.
Lloyd added that the government was also seeking to implement virtual classrooms and distance learning to aid in the teacher shortage.
Asked yesterday whether he has conveyed his thoughts to the education minister, Robinson said, “I have not conveyed it to him personally, more so because I did not see it as a priority for me to address.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to do so as yet, but my point is if ever I’m asked about anything, I would give my thoughts on whatever question I’m asked as a part of the legislative body.
“I am not expressing my opinion to bash the government or the minister of education because I know he is certainly working hard, but these are just my personal views on it.
“That is my position on it and I think that the minister…having been a teacher himself, he knows the reality and so I think that my sentiments to him, would only be an expression of what I would think that he already knows.”