Minister of Education Technological and Vocational Training Santia Bradshaw arriving for Parliament this morning. (Picture by Reco Moore)
A major investment in robotics and wifi connectivity in schools were among the initiatives announced by Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Santia Bradshaw.
She was the first Minister to take a seat in The Well of Parliament with her technocrats when The Estimates for the financial year 2020-2021 got underway at the Worthing Corporate Centre, Worthing, Christ Church, this morning.
Bradshaw said Government had allocated $5.651 million towards technology in schools.
Priority will be given to robotics to build capacity in the secondary schools – including robotics clubs – and in some of the primary schools. There will be a pilot programme at the nursery level and students at the special schools will not be left behind.
“Devices will be provided for students as well as teachers and we have a very rigorous programme designed to engage teachers in training and retraining, because we do have some existing in the systems presently who can teach the programme,” Bradshaw said.
“But we want to give as many options to our young people, in the current climate, to explore as much as possible the area of robotics and new technologies.”
The Minister said they were creating the environment for scholarship and exhibition winners who excel in the sciences to return home and give back instead of Barbados continuing to export them to other countries.
The programme will start in September, but training will be done “in the coming weeks”. The budget is $2.2 million and an equal amount will be invested to place wifi across the various school plants.
A lack of wifi was one of the concerns raised by teachers’ unions when the Ministry sought to introduce the Open Education Management Information System (OpenEMIS) system.
Bradshaw said Government had received desktops and laptops from China, but they could not be fully deployed because the cabling and wifi connectivity was not done across the various plants.
The Minister said installation of the access points has started and they have allocated $370 550 for this. The focus will be the secondary schools, then primary and nursery.
She said it was critical to have connectivity in schools to also meet some of the testing requirements for the Caribbean Examinations Council.
“I am assured that as monies permit and finances permit that the intention is that we will continue to see the introduction of further devices across the system but this is a start Mam, and it is a welcomed start for the Ministry of Education.” (SAT)