People’s National Party (PNP) caretaker for the Gayle division in Western St. Mary, Jouvaughnie Byfield, is proposing a return to the shift system to address the growing learning divide within Jamaica’s education system.
Byfield has recommended using secondary schools to facilitate face-to-face learning for children at the primary level.
“These classrooms are usually larger and could accommodate the proper ventilation and distancing protocols,” Byfield explained.
“Educational access must be improved to solve this crisis in our division and the country or we run the risk of having to deal with an uneducated populace and an ever increasing crime rate,” he added.
Byfield notes that he has observed that a large majority of students at the primary level are not in school.
This is an observation that Byfield says is not unique to his constituency, adding that it seems to be prevalent across rural constituencies.
He also used the occasion to encourage councillor Jason James to make representation through MP Robert Montague, pushing for more resources to be allocated to struggling households.
“We need the Ministry of Education and Youth (MOEY) to allocate more tablets and necessary resources to each household in the division,” Byfield said.
“I am also recommending that the government provide a concession to the telecommunication companies to provide data for a set period of time to selected areas or households who cannot pay for data,” he added.
Byfield also recommends that the MOEY zero-rate all learning websites.
The ‘learning divide’ is a relatively new phenomenon that has emerged, as more schools shift classes online to the detriment of students without devices and access to the internet.