Following the results of a survey on the level of learning loss experienced in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson yesterday questioned what steps the government intends to take to improve learning for students.
“The Ministry of Education has the data,” she said.
“Now what? I have pertinent questions. What changes will be made to the curriculum? What new policies will be created and adopted?
“What new strategies will be implemented to ensure that the same things will not reoccur if we have to revert to fully online learning?
“Has anything been done to improve the LMS since the results of the survey? I doubt it. Changes must be made to improve the delivery of quality education to our students.
“I implore, I urge the Ministry of Education to begin the work now because the more time that lapses, the wider the learning gap widens.”
In response, Minister of Education Glenys Hanna-Martin said, “The ministry commissioned the survey, so as to have empirical evidence for decision-making, so as not to rely simply on anecdotal reports one way or the other.
“This is a paradigm shift.
“Additionally, the ministry is in the process of commissioning additional research on student learning. The objective is to effect policy execution based on empirical data to achieve best prospects for success of the Bahamian student.
“The survey has provided insights into several issues and will inform policy decisions moving forward as it relates to virtual learning, but it also gives some insight into the social and economic factors which impact learning.
“Additionally, an RFP will be published shortly to implement diagnostic testing of students to ascertain the extent of learning loss…
“This will be of especial significance to the students who are revealed in the survey [to] have either been infrequently in attendance over the last two years and those who have been fully absent.”
The report, “Survey of Infrequent and non-Users of the Learning Management System (LMS)”, was conducted by the Department of Statistics for the Ministry of Education in February 2022.
The data showed that roughly half of the 499 households questioned said there was at least one child in the home who did not attend virtual classes.
“There were represented 363 children in the survey that did not use Learning Management System (LMS),” the report read.
Of that total, more students in preschool to grade six did not use the LMS, than those in grades seven to 12.
When asked why students were not using the LMS, respondents said that the “teachers used ZOOM (47 percent); their user ID and passwords did not work (21 percent); they were no longer attending public school (19 percent); the teacher used Google Classroom (16 percent); they did not receive login information from the Ministry of Education (11 percent); or they had no internet service (seven percent)”.
The objective of the survey was to determine why the ministry’s LMS was “not fully utilized by the children that never logged on as well as those that only logged on once or twice a day”.
Education officials have said that in October 2021, roughly 30 percent of students were not attending classes on the platform.
Public school students returned to classes on January 24 via hybrid learning. Schools were initially supposed to resume on January 11.
After the COVID-19 pandemic shut down almost every sector in the country, in 2020, schools reopened virtually in October 2020 with the LMS program.
The government varied its approach to learning to include a mix of in-person and virtual classes.