Minister Addresses ‘Unsavoury’ Incidents Online During Virtual School Reopening

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Education Minister, Shawn Edward, has acknowledged that the virtual reopening of schools on Monday was ‘marred by some very unsavoury incidents’, although he asserted that overall his interaction with with quite a few principals, teachers and students indicated that the majority had a good day.

However, Edward told reporters outside parliament on Tuesday that some teachers were abused.

In one video that has gone viral, someone hurls expletives at a teacher during a virtual session as others urge him to have respect, while in another incident it is reported that during an online assembly at a secondary school in Castries, someone made ‘disgusting remarks’ of a  sexually explicit nature to a female teacher.

“This is one of the shortcomings of the modality that we are employing and in an address to the nation I would have said that we need an ‘all hands on deck approach’ – parents have to provide oversight as much as possible and even the students themselves must take responsibility for their learning to a certain extent,” the Minister stated.

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He disclosed that there were cases where individuals who are not part of the school system were able to infiltrate some of the platforms and create disruption.

“I am just coming out of a meeting with the Acting Chief Education Officer and the Permanent Secretary. I know our IT Unit, working with the various Education Officers, has put together a set of guidelines that we are hoping will minimise on some of the incidents that we witnessed yesterday,” Edward revealed.

“We are looking to strengthen security. This is a matter for the IT technicians. I am not at liberty to reveal some of the measures we are looking to institute to take control of the situation. But I think more than just resorting to punitive measures, we have to, as a society, take responsibility for the learning of our children and as I said, we need collaboration from every facet of the society.”

“But in the main, I am happy that we were able to make a start. I always knew that resorting to the distributed learning modality would have brought about some challenges,” Edward told reporters.

“We are trying our best as a Ministry, as an agency, to work with all the stakeholders to ensure that we are able to instruct our children as best we can in the given circumstances,” he declared.

The Minister said teachers have shown that they are a resilient group of citizens.

“I am on the record as saying that I am very grateful for what they have done for our education system over time and even more so now, given the challenges that COVID has brought with it. So in the main, I am very happy with the disposition of our teachers. Without them we won’t be able to achieve anything in the school system and so my encouragement is for them to just stick with it. There are going to be challenges and as a Ministry we are working with the SLTU to ensure that we make the environment as comfortable for the teachers and students as possible,” Edward said.

Headline photo: Shawn Edward (Stock image)

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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