Marshall calls for alternative school plan as COVID cases rise in Europe
The Barbados Ministry of Education must share an alternative plan early should face-to-face classes not resume as planned in January next year.
This is the view of Democratic Labour Party (DLP) spokesperson on Education, Neil Marshall.
Marshall, an attorney-at-law, observed that current infection numbers were trending upwards in all of the country’s tourism source markets which would translate into increased cases in Barbados.
He quoted The World Health Organisation (WHO) as saying that “coronavirus deaths in Europe rose five per cent in the last week, making it the only region in the world where Covid-19 deaths increased.
“As they say, when the world sneezes we catch a cold, and the consequences of the huge European sneeze can only have one consequence for Barbados with its continuing reopening to the tourist market and its drive to capitalise on the tourist dollar. I fear that Barbados will be rife with Covid-19 come the new year,” said Marshall.
The St Phillip South candidate suggested that given current global trends the planned school reopening might not be a practical reality.
“I make bold to say that come January 2022, there will be no physical school in Barbados for any of our children and that the current dispensation will continue. I would love to be wrong on this one but if anyone is asked to apply any logical thought or reasoning to this issue, the algebra equation of exponentially rising cases in the U.K and Europe plus relaxed local protocols and incoming travel restrictions plus the commencement of the winter tourist season with increased arrivals of visitors, equates to increased local Covid-19 cases and increased deaths. I hope to God that I’m wrong on this one but I believe that we have been forewarned.”
He listed issues that have plagued the educational system from the inception of the pandemic and which have not been adequately addressed, and gave solutions as to how the Government could implement alternative plans including wider access to internet services; reliable electronic devices; and the provision of food and nutrition.
“I would wish to suggest to the administration that instead of buying unsold and dispensable uniforms from the two major manufacturers and the two major retailers that the money could be better spent providing internet access in those households with children who have access to none.”
He revealed that too many children still had no devices and likened internet access without a device to “…having raw food with no means of cooking it”.
Marshall emphasised that the Ministry of Education must ensure all school children have access to the necessary electronic devices that would allow them to participate in the online platform.
Marshall also suggested that School Meals workers not involved with Covid assignments be deployed to provide sustenance for children whose parents were having difficulties.
“What has become of the numerous servers who attended the primary schools; are they still at home being paid? Given that the administration has refused to bring a national budget so that we may ascertain if the level of funding allocated to that service has been maintained, we must continue to hold the view that the budget remains the same.
“Since 95 per cent of primary school children are from the catchment area of their school why does the Ministry of Education find it impossible to continue the school meals programme at the various Primary Schools with the children or their parents coming to the school to collect their meals on a daily basis?” he queried.
Marshall said it was clear the Government had become a law unto itself at the expense of taxpayers and urged the Education officials to listen to advice and be more proactive in their approach. (PR)