Jamaica

Description

Jamaica's response to school closure.

Context

Characteristics of the educational system

 2,700 early childhood institutes with 101,000 enrolled (includes kindergarten) and 1,200 teachers

162 primary schools with 236,160 enrolled and 9,560 teachers

791 secondary schools with 214,000 enrolled and 12,700 teachers

 

Responsible for the provision of educational service

Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEYI)

Immediate response

School closings

Schools (including preschools) were physically closed until the beginning of the new school year but classes for the 2020 academic year were continued through the use of emergency remote learning at all levels/grades until July 3rd (end of school year). 

Face-to-face sessions reopened for students sitting external regional exams (CSEC, CAPE, NCTVET and City and Guilds for grades 11-13) and ran for one month; exams were taken from end July to mid-August (face-to-face).

Schools reopened on October 5th, 2020.

 

Social services provided during school closings

Schools were closed. MOEYI provided support to PATH beneficiaries (including preschool-age children) through cash transfers to purchase food. The National Parenting Support Commission partnered with UNICEF to provide help lines for psychosocial care, and also send out tips.

 

Strategies for educational continuity

The MOEYI sent out a news bulletin with a list of resources, and a hotline has been activated to support PEP test questions. They also have established partnerships to make online resources available for Grade levels 1-3, 4-6, 7-9:

o Book Fusion- https://www.bookfusion.com/

o Learning Hub - https://learninghub.online/

o EduFocal - https://www.edufocal.com/

o CHEETAH - http://www.mydreamcheetah.net/pep.html

Students without internet service will be able to access One on One Learning Management System through a zero-rated data service plan. They are setting up webinars on One on One for teachers, by grade.

Individual schools will do what they can to follow MOEYI guidelines. CSEC and CAPE are considering postponing the end of year exams.  

Other partners have come on board like FLOW, ReadyTV and 10 radio stations along with other media houses and private providers (TV and radio) to provide lessons through their cable and on-line services. They’re partnering with Drop Box to provide materials to print.

 

Study plans for educational continuity

The MOEYI provided a national timetable for teachers to serve as a guide (mixed-modality), along with a schedule for online, tv and radio programs, with an emphasis on core subject areas like English language and literature, math, science, social studies and history. Individual schools have set up modified timetables. The teachers have been expected to continue sending assignments to their students in all grades. The enrichment subject areas are now included in the timetables.

 

Support Tools

Availability of digital repository of educational content

The MOEYI has repositories of digital resources for math and language arts that are being used, as well as free access to edufocal.com which has content and programs to study for national exams.  The MOEYI is partnering with the One on One Learning Management System through a zero-rated data service plan, and One on One and the Jamaica Teaching Council are training teachers through webinars to familiarize them with online platforms. The MOEYI has set up an e-instruction monitoring toolkit to be sure school is functioning in the most efficient way; there are three groups – e-leadership, e-teaching, e-testing.

Availability of television or radio signals for educational purposes

Public broadcasting (PBCJ) was in existence prior. The MOEYI had pre-recorded content that they have provided to PBCJ to ensure they are broadcasting materials in line with the national curriculum. It is nationwide and links with 25 other cable channels.

 

Digital technologies for learning continuity

Some digital platforms have been used to teach. Experienced teachers are teaching lessons that are then made available to students via internet, radio, social media (YouTube and WhatsApp) and broadcast on public and private tv stations

Digital technologies for monitoring learning

Moodle, zoom, and online resources like Khan Academy and ABC Mouse are used, but it varies by school. Some schools have set up their own learning management systems to facilitate teaching and assessments.  Some schools are now involving parents more. Schools are sending regular emails to parents with updates. The Early Childhood Commission has a dedicated webpage for children 0-5 years old (https://ecc.gov.jm/covid-19-corner/) with lesson plans, storytelling and tips for parents.

 

Virtual tutorials (asynchronous and / or synchronous teaching)

No – not nationally – just on a school by school basis 

 

Development or adaptation of content for broadcast by analog media

The MOEYI is using the materials mentioned above. They have a partnership with TVJ Radio and their related social media pages. They have done continuous press conferences and interviews to update the education community. The Prime Minister also did a live Town Hall for students. All government press conferences include sign language interpretation.

MoEYI has also partnered with ReadyTV to establish an education network specifically for the early childhood and primary levels.  The station will also be carried by our cable provider. This will be expanded to the secondary level in the second phase.  ReadyTV will also provide internet service to 100 of our communities not being served by our major internet providers.

Connectivity

National digital education strategy

The ministry has begun to digitize some processes at the school level: Registration of new students at the Grade One level has been converted to the electronic process, attendance and accountability measures are now digitized and plans are afoot to implement a Learning Management System for all schools to support teaching and learning.  The tertiary institutions have also begun to transform their programmes to online modality and hybrid formats in some cases.  Teacher training will continue in July to build the skill set needed for digital transformation.  We continue the discussion on this as an overarching plan is developed.

Connectivity in schools for use of administrative and pedagogical management systems

Some schools do, but not all. Teachers are working from home, and not all teachers have access to connectivity. Mobile phones are widespread.

Internet connectivity benefits for students and teachers

Partnerships with communication providers, distribution of devices to teachers and students:

The MOEYI arranged with the two largest providers (Digicel and FLOW) to give credits to teachers, as well as a reduced-price data plan (US$3.70 for 14 days). The MOEYI will assume the cost for PATH beneficiaries.

Challenges

Challenges of educational continuity during school closings

Equal access to online and offline lessons. The MOEYI is making offline options available. 

Not every school has an ICT resource teacher that can support computer-based learning platforms or help with dissemination of information to students and teachers.

It has been difficult to reach children with disabilities and students in remote locations. 

Also, there is increased demand for free internet. 

The MOEYI is now thinking about how to assess learning during this time and how they will minimize and remediate the learning gaps when schools reopen. Use will be made of a curriculum cross walk to bridge the gaps identified.

 

Reopening

Plans to reopen schools

Several models have been submitted to the Cabinet for deliberation, to include phased resumption on a flexible school schedule or extended day, guided by social distancing, sanitation and public health protocols as recommended by the Ministry of Health and WHO (this includes preschools).  Priority is being given to those students sitting exit exams needed for higher education (see answer #1 above).

 

Learning models for the reopening of schools

The reopening plan has special provision for diagnosis and learning recovery.  Protocols include safe journey to school, diagnosis and make up plan, dropout prevention and protection of trajectories: the Ministry’s technical team created the curriculum cross walk and the assessment instruments for all schools and supports the implementation of the activities.  Plans are included for students to repeat a grade if needs be or to engage in enrichment sessions to address the gaps (face to face and remotely). With this aim, they are doing a special series of assessments in the first two weeks of school to determine where students are in their learning 

Schools are equipped with the services of Guidance Counsellors, Deans of Discipline, Health and Family Life Educations and Senior Teachers who lead the health and welfare committees.  These personnel have plans in place to address absenteeism and possible dropouts.

About 400 schools will be face-to-face, including some private schools; there will also be hybrid models.

Specific support for children with disabilities is being considered.

The priorities of the government are: psychosocial support for students and parents; teacher training, connectivity, educational platforms, technological devices and content development.

Additional Information

Keywords:
jamaica, COVID-19, Education continuity, Emergency remote teaching
Last Update: 11/12/2020
Diagnosis of digital management transformation:
No