Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said yesterday that fewer than 12,000 Bahamian students are taking virtual classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Something strange is happening, Mr. Speaker,” said Lloyd in a communication in the House of Assembly.
“It is difficult to explain why, if the students who are registered, not that many seem to be accessing the live platform. For instance, there are 1,715 registered in grade 12, but only 233 access the live platform.
“There are 2,475 students that are registered in grade seven, one half — 1,342 — engage the live page. [O]nly 141 attend school when the instructions are live.
“In grade nine, the year of the BJC, there are 2,207 students who are registered, but only 133 that access the live instruction, those that are being taught by teachers in real-time.
“The grade 10, those who are beginning the BGCSE curriculum, there are 2,125 who are registered, Mr. Speaker, but only 70 who access the live instructions.”
There are about 75,000 students enrolled in primary and secondary schools, according to Lloyd.
He said 26,000 students were registered for virtual classes.
“By grade level, the highest number of registrants would be in grade seven and followed by closely, by grade eight,” Lloyd said.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the lowest number would be in grades one, two and, regrettably, grade 12. I would also like to say, sir, that in the first week that the school ran this live and learn subject program, there was some 12,886 students that accessed the learning site. Last week, there were only 11,671; a drop of some 1,215 students.”
As of March 30, according to the minister, 112 virtual classes were being offered by the Ministry of Education.
Noting that low registration number, Lloyd asked, “Where are the others?
“The suggestion that there is a large swath of our Bahamian students who do not have internet connectivity, devices or both. It has been anecdotally suggested that we may have as many as 20,000 students, now registered in our schools, who are of such a challenge.
“As a consequence, in collaboration with Cable Bahamas, I am pleased to announce to this honorable house and to the Bahamian people that beginning next Wednesday, April 15, Cable Bahamas will dedicate two channels, channel 296 and 297, for the live broadcasting of education content by the Ministry of Education.”
He said broadcasting will take place Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Channel 296 will be for students preparing to sit the BJC and BGCSE, according to Lloyd.
He said channel 297 will cover the other grades.