Wed | Aug 12, 2020

End all virtual teaching – Speid

Published:Wednesday | June 3, 2020 | 12:22 AMDanae Hyman/Staff Reporter
Owen Speid, president of the JTA.
Owen Speid, president of the JTA.

President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Owen Speid, has resumed his call for the Andrew Holness-led administration to immediately put a stop to all “experimental emergency response virtual teaching”.

Speid, who was speaking at the Rotary Club of Kingston’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, said that virtual teaching has only been reaching 30 per cent of students islandwide, and warned that a potential spike in COVID-19 cases might further complicate outreach. The JTA president said that both teachers and students need adequate training in using the platforms.

“I believe that the Government and its teachers, along with the students, need to get into a planning mode because, as we see it and as we are hearing from the minister of health, we will have exponential increases in the number of COVID-19 cases as we move forward in the short to medium term. If that is so, then chances are we are going to be heavily dependent on virtual teaching going forward,” Speid said.

“I believe the Government of Jamaica should get teachers and students trained to use the platforms, and so it is a good time to rate this virtual teaching and move straight into a training mode for teachers, and students especially,” he added.

Further, the controversial head of the JTA called for an immediate audit of schools islandwide to establish the deficits that exist.

Alluding to stresses in the school system, Speid said that national leaders should ensure that the facilities for teaching and learning are adequate.

“In the 1980s, and to some extent what I am seeing today, some of the schoolrooms where children are expected to perform at a high level resemble those classrooms and schools we had way back then.

“I have gone to over 160 schools across the island, and when I visit, what I am seeing in many instances are poorly lit classrooms. I am still seeing classrooms being partitioned by blackboards; I am seeing poorly ventilated classrooms and often classrooms with grimy walls,” Speid said.

He again demanded that a permanent minister of education be appointed at the soonest possible time.

Corruption allegations forced then Minister of Education Ruel Reid to resign last year. Karl Samuda was assigned to temporarily oversee the ministry.

danae.hyman@gleanerjm.com