The Bahamas Telecommunications Company Ltd. (BTC), in partnership with the Ministry of Education and One on One Educational Services Ltd., is providing an expanded virtual education platform to ensure that students are able to continue their studies and prepare for examinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thousands of primary and secondary school students across The Bahamas have been benefitting from BTC Study, and the expanded platform will further aid them as they prepare for the national examinations which begin July 13, with Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) exams scheduled for July 13 to August 5 and Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Examinations (BGCSE) scheduled for July 13 to August 14.
According to Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd, 10,659 candidates are registered to write the BJC exam, and 5,996 candidates are registered to write BGCSE.
The national examinations were scheduled to begin on March 30, but were postponed after The Bahamas confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 15 and learning from pre-school through university was shuttered to in-person learning and moved to the online platform.
The 2020 Grade Level Assessment Test (GLAT) was canceled.
According to BTC officials, primary and secondary school curricula will also be accessible throughout the summer months so that students have access to continue their learning while on vacation. The expanded platform further enables the option to host virtual summer school.
Through this partnership, BTC and One on One Education Services are providing an end-to-end virtual learning management system in conjunction with the education ministry.
The ministry was responsible for the development of content and the provision of online classrooms. Over 600 educators from both public and private institutions were trained and participated in the program.
“The ministry is extremely grateful for its partnership with One on One and the Bahamas Telecommunications Company in supplementing the work of our virtual school initiative to bridge the learning gap caused by COVID-19,” said Lloyd. “Particularly important is the One on One Online Learning platform’s ability to offer teachers the means to continue providing students with useful instruction in their BJC and BGSCE subjects.”
BTC CEO Garry Sinclair said they were pleased to continue to partner with the education ministry to expand the project.
“In collaboration with One on One, we’ve delivered a turnkey solution which can be used by the ministry in the future. Education is paramount to our future, and therefore this partnership was important to facilitate e-learning as well as to bring a sense of normalcy for our students as they adjusted to new ways of learning during these difficult times. In addition, we also zero-rated the website so that students can access the site free of charge from their mobile devices without depleting their data.”
CEO of One on One Ricardo Allen said they were excited to expand the partnership as they believe education is a right and not a privilege.
“Our platform has the capacity to facilitate all students, bridging the gap of location and time. In times like these we recognize more than ever, the importance of e-learning and we are happy to help our students continue with their studies,” said Allen.
The BTC Study program was initially piloted in November 2019, to deliver educational services to students who were affected by Hurricane Dorian. BTC, through the Cable & Wireless Charitable Foundation (CWCF), gifted a $100,000 grant to support the Ministry of Education with the development of a virtual learning program. During the BTC Study pilot, students received extra classes, digital textbooks and other learning resources.
In August 2019, the company presented the ministry with 2,500 tablets to further its smart schools initiative. During that time, BTC also delivered on its commitment to provide robust and secure broadband connectivity to 127 schools in 13 islands across the country.