As expected the Ministry of Education (MOE) is totally unprepared to advance any effective distance learning initiative and the foundation it is built on, homeschooling.
The situation is in such disarray that teachers are at odds with the MOE based on its expectations of them. Needless to say it is only inevitable that parents will also have major issues with the distance learning initiative that the MOE is clumsily rolling out.
Based on a number of interactions I and members of the African Heritage Foundation (AHF) have had with the MOE, we can safely say homeschooling was never taken seriously by the ministry. Institutionalized education has always been the direction of the MOE. The Chief Educational Officer in her interactions with us has made it crystal clear in her actions and speech, that she placed no real regard for homeschooling and the rights of parents to do so. In fact our interactions with the MOE in relation to homeschooling has ushered us into the courts of law on more than one occasion.
It must be noted prior to COVID-19 all parents seeking permission to homeschool had to provide some form of qualifications. Qualifications accepted started at CXC’s or their equivalent and anything above that. Common Sense should tell us that regardless of how much online instruction is given, the parents role in their children’s academic life has transformed to one of teaching support staff. Do you still need qualifications from parents at this time Miss Chief Educational Officer?
Has the MOE even considered the role of the parent in this time as it pertains to distance learning? Beyond providing them with tablets for their children to access the required online platform needed, what support is the MOE offering parents? Do they even know what is needed at this time? The problem is not that they don’t know and are unprepared, the real issue is they are so headstrong they will not consider advice from or advance working relationships with people or organizations they see as less than.
In light of this, the AHF continues to offer parents an alternative to the butchering of education being undertaken by the MOE. Here are 5 tips from the AHF to the MOE and parents as it relates to homeschooling.
- Synchronized teaching is problematic for a number of reasons. The MOE should take into consider that households have been impacted by COVID-19 and more people may be in the space causing distractions. Also parents with two or more children have additional considerations when synchronized teaching is the order of the day. What about the children of teachers that are conducting these synchronized lessons, who will be there for them when they are participating in their own synchronized classes? The AHF suggests that Asynchronous lessons be the order of the day. This gives parents the time they need to sit with each child during a particular lesson if need be. Synchronous lessons can then be given on an individual basis for parents and children needing further instruction than what the Asynchronous lesson provided. Therefore, after the recording of the initial lesson, teachers would then concentrate on giving one to one or small group consultations on problematic subject areas.
- The MOE should provide parents with evaluation cards for the children. In this way parents can record the progress their children are making while identifying subject topics that are problematic. These cards should be collected by the MOE for their evaluation. Evaluation and not necessarily exam testing is needed at this time.
- The ceasing of physical institutionalized learning, that is the closure of schools, will save the MOE some money (I would expect). This saved money can be used to hire young people to create online content that will inform Asynchronously taught classes. Organizations such as the AHF can also assist in the national developing of distance learning and its required support systems.
- Although it can be accessed on their website, the MOE should provide all parents with a curriculum for the year level their child is in. This provides parents in an Asynchronous educational environment, the ability to choose the topic they work on with their children. The MOE can give a recommendation for the order subject matter is to be tackled, as a guideline for parents.
- Parents who have to work outside the home, should employ an unemployed or underemployed family member or trusted friend to take the responsibility of “Teaching Assistant” for online classes. As stated before, the MOE should also think about how they can assist parents in reimbursing these people for their time.
It is hoped that the MOE can remove its blinkers of institutionalized education, and assist Barbados effectively in evolving its educational system to meet the needs of the people.
If you have a child in the 10 – 11 age range, please have a look at the recorded English and Math lessons the AHF provides for its homeschoolers. As stated before, parents can contact the tutor, who happens to be me in this case, for additional assistance on any aspect of a particular subject. The AHF is in the process of building this online library of recorded lessons as teaching aids for parents.
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BAASE Tutorials https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYX8CL2SViGMUUCQ7CD4tXg
African Heritage Foundation