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The Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) is accusing the government of incompetence in the management of the online Training School for Indigenous and Hinterland teachers. According to the Opposition, in a statement on Tuesday, this incompetence is evident notwithstanding the boast of the Minister of Education the current Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) online training programme has the capacity and capability of an online training school.
Read the full text of the statement below:-
The PPP Online Training School for Indigenous and hinterland teachers is another manifestation of the Minister of Education and the PPP’s incompetence, notwithstanding the boast of the Minister that the current CPCE online training programme has the capacity and capability of an online training school
The Opposition believes that education is one of the most important tools for development. It follows therefore that any programme which is intended to benefit elements of the nation must be carefully crafted and implemented. This unfortunately is not the case with the online training course for teachers. The Opposition, therefore, calls on the Minister of Education and the PPP government to re-evaluate it with a view to ironing out the difficulties.
This programme commenced in September 2021, many teachers having registered. However, from the inception the programme was plagued by many issues inclusive of the following:
The lack of proper internet connectivity for students in Regions 1, 7, 8 and 9.
The Opposition is particularly concerned that many of the students were forced to depend on Digicel or GT&T mobile internet to have any sort of access to classes. Where these services were not available students simply could not access classes. There are parts of Region 7 and 8 where students who registered for the online training never attended a single class because they had no internet access. This is an unacceptable situation and requires urgent attention.
The foregoing is compounded by poor internet connection. This hinders students from joining classes. And even where they were able to join classes the poor connection would result in them being disconnected and by the time they are able to reconnect they would have missed a significant part of the lecture.
Further, the disadvantage of poor internet causes some students to miss not only classes but courses which form a major part of their training.
In some cases, students could not afford to purchase data because of the large amount of data needed for their studies resulting in missed classes. In this regard, the Opposition is constrained to note that the Government offered no subsidy for data. The Opposition believes that the government should be guided by the APNU+AFC people-centered approach and subsidise data for the teachers in the hinterland and all teachers that are in need of such subsidy to deliver education to the nation’s children.
It is important to note that these student teachers receive the minimum wage and therefore they live in poverty and are given the added burden of subsidizing their education on that meager wage by having to buy data to attend classes.
In addition, facilities to do research to enable completion of assignments are limited or non-existent in these communities. We call on the government to ensure that there is adequate access to research facilities.
The incompetence becomes more manifest when it is noted that the Minister of Education promised that students would have online books and resources but fails to deliver. Students were essentially left to fend for themselves with little or no support from the government.
In July and August 2022, hinterland students were brought to the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) Turkeyen Campus to make up for one lost year of training in six (6) weeks. Many students also complained that for some courses there were no lecturers to teach the online courses.
The online training programme is proving to be an unmitigated disaster with severe consequences for the student teachers and anticipated negative effects on student performance in the future.
It is a clear manifestation of discrimination against Indigenous peoples and hinterland residents in general where there is one quality level of training for those on the coastland and one mediocre level for those in the hinterland.
It is the judgement of the Opposition that the weaknesses identified must therefore be remedied urgently. No government worth its salt would tolerate a situation in which teachers in the region cannot positively benefit from a programme which must have intended to improve their capacity for imparting knowledge. The hinterland regions are already the victim of many disadvantages, and can hardly withstand another one, especially in the area of education.