Despite spending millions of dollars on the purchase of tablets for students during the Covid-19 pandemic to cater for online teaching under the previous New National Party (NNP) administration, most of the gadgets are now lying idle and not in use.
A school principal told THE NEW TODAY that the Ministry of Education has only asked for the return of tablets from those children who passed the CPEA exams and are now about to enter secondary schools in September.
“All the other students who got, they have theirs with them,” he said.
According to the school principal, the students are not using the tablets to do their school work and some have them using it to engage in pleasure like the playing of games.
“The children more (or less) do play games with it. It’s not like (they are) using it for school work. The bigger ones (school children) would walk with theirs like to do little research or whatever but it’s not something that is very useful in the classroom,” he said.
The school principal also revealed that despite claims by officials of the Ministry of Education that they have inserted restrictive measures on the tablets, the school children have been able to find a way around it.
“The children are breaking all the codes and downloading all kinds of games and things and so on, on it – it’s kind of defeating the purpose,” he said.
The school official indicated that the Ministry of Education had promised to put E-books on the tablets but “I don’t know if any E-books were downloaded on them.”
He disclosed that with the change in administration following the June 23 general election, it would be interesting to see what is the position being adopted by the new Congress administration of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell on the use of tablets in the school system.
Asked if the spending of millions on the purchase of the tablets was a total waste of taxpayers’ money, the school principal said: “To be honest, I don’t know if to say it’s a total waste because even the laptop they give to me I don’t use it for anything. I hardly use it – like if I have to check email and whatever I will do that but it is not something I will use on a regular basis to do any major work or so.”
School principals and Teachers were given laptops under the Keith Mitchell-led NNP regime for use during the pandemic.
“I don’t even know the reason for myself. I just prefer to use a desktop,” said the school principal when asked why he was not using the government-assigned laptop.
The school official also alluded to several restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Education on the use of the laptops within the school system.
One of these, he said, was a ban on downloading anything from the internet on the device, and not to put any new material on it.
“Is a whole set of drama. Before I go through all that worries I just use what I have – my own personal stuff,” he remarked.
The school principal is calling on the new Minister of Education, David Andrew to take immediate corrective measures to address some of the deficiencies in the education system that were created under the former Education Minister Emmalin Pierre.
He said: “Take for instance all the Curriculum Development officers and subject leaders – they were told that they don’t have space for them in the Ministry of Education. So when the people go out to schools and do their visits and their monitoring and whatever, they didn’t have an office to go (back) to – they were literally put out of office.”
“So you go to your two or three schools and after that you have nowhere else to go and then you go back home – it is your choice or whatever or you sit down in a school if they have space for you in order to accommodate you until your day ends. That’s what was happening in the last rounds (under NNP). All Education Officers and Curriculum Officers, they didn’t have a place in the Ministry of Education.”
According to the school principal, under the last administration, the Ministry of Education was filled with people who were of no value to Education.
“That is the nonsense that was happening there – a set of nonsense,” he said.