Education Minister says learning loss “worrying,” July-August classes to catch up

Education Minister Priya Manickchand on Tuesday visited several Grade Seven and the Year One nursery pupils who officially resumed full time classes. The other grades returned to school on April 25, 2022, and April 28, 2022, due to the Ministry of Education’s decision to have a phased reopening.

In her interaction with the media, the Minister said the level of learning loss is worrying. She explained that “what I am seeing, and this is just cursory glance at what is happening, year two Nursery children could not identify letters and pronounce short vowel sounds; that’s very worrying because at this point of third term in Year two, they should be reading.” These students will be moving to Primary School in September 2022 and will need to be prepared for Grade 1 learning.

Based on initial observation, the Education Minister said that schools may need to remain open during the July/August period when they are usually closed.

Minister Manickchand said that many persons do not fully appreciate the impact that school closures have had on children. She said, “We have to find ways to ensure that these children get exposed to the hours of education that they need, that we have parents that are interested and their attitudes are right. We may have to work into July/August.” This the Minister said is dependent on the logistics to be addressed.

To bounce back from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which led to the closure of schools for two years, she said these changes are necessary.

“What we have seen academically is worrying and parents need to pay attention to what we are asking of them so that they can make sure their children are benefitting from the kind of accelerated learning that we need at this stage,” the Education Minister noted.

She explained that diagnostic assessments have been done to know where students are academically relative to where they need to be so that teachers will know how to engage them in the classroom. Additionally, Minister Manickchand explained that the Ministry produced a consolidated curriculum to have students exposed to what they would have learnt in their previous year. She said that of the 40 weeks of engagement, the first 20 weeks will be dedicated to content a student should have done in their previous grade/class and the final 20 weeks will focus on what they should be learning in their current grade/class.