Education Ministry Undertaking a Learning Loss Assessment to Review the Impact of COVID-19 on Education
#NASSAU, Bahamas, January 18, 2023 – Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin said the recent lockdowns and shutdowns in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic have had multiple negative effects on education.
“Indeed, it has been noted that no sector has been more severely affected than the education sector,” the Minister said at a press conference on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 announcing that the Ministry will be undertaking assessments on children at public schools throughout the country to evaluate the extent of the learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A tremendous body of research has been conducted globally and regionally and there is unanimity in the findings that millions of children worldwide are suffering from learning loss.
Minister Hanna-Martin explained that learning loss according to the World Bank refers to any specific or general loss of knowledge and skills or to reversals in academic progress, most commonly due to extended gaps”.
She also noted that a World Bank report published in June 2022 shows that “prolonged school closures, poor mitigation effectiveness, and household-income shocks had the biggest impact on learning poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), with a predicted 80 per cent of children at the end-of-primary-school-age now unable to understand a simple written text, up from around 50 per cent pre-pandemic”.
The Minister said, “It is incumbent upon us in The Bahamas to measure the impact of COVID-19 which will give us real data as to the extent of learning loss so as to allow us to craft interventions to help our children catch up. The report shows that even before COVID-19 there was a learning crisis; COVID-19 exacerbated this crisis to huge proportions.”
She said the World Bank reported to avoid a permanent impact on the human capital accumulation of this generation, countries need to focus on reversing those losses and accelerating learning.
Minister Hanna-Martin said as a demonstration of data driven research, the Ministry commissioned a survey with the Department of Statistics to ascertain the reasons why thousands of children did not sign on to virtual learning and this data has given much insight into an array of issues.
She said another exercise that was undertaken nationwide involved public and private teams dispatched into communities to compile first-hand data on children not attending school.
“The deployment of attendance officers followed this initiative, to procure the attendances of students. Due to these combined efforts, we have been able to achieve an unprecedented school attendance rate of 94 per cent.
“Further, we commissioned a research project with the University of The Bahamas to identify factors which influence learning outcomes to our school population. This research will assist the Ministry in shaping policy and creating targeted interventions.”
Dominique McCartney-Russell, Acting Director said the Ministry has hired a consultant firm to undertake a diagnostic assessment of the learning loss that has occurred in the country and to provide recommendations for accelerating learning recovery.
After a bidding process, Renaissance Learning Inc. was the winning firm based on several criteria. These include:
- The company should have had at least a minimum of three years of successful consultancy in the education sector with the expertise required to satisfactorily complete the assignment.
- They should have successful experience in at least three assignments of similar value and complexity in diagnostic assessment, remediation and acceleration in a school system.
They should also have experience in providing services to school systems with a student population of more than 35,000 children from grades K to 12.
The Acting Director said, “We looked at qualifications experience, methodologies, work plans, organization and staffing, subject matter expertise and overall competence for this assignment.”
She added, “The mandate of this consultancy includes diagnostic assessment, the remediation and the salvation of learning recovery for students in K to 12 in the public school sector.”
Renaissance Learning Inc. has worldwide impact and operations in countries including the United States, Canada, China, Australia, the United Kingdom and the Caribbean.
According to Renaissance Learning Inc. website, since 1986, its mission has been to accelerate learning for all children and adults of all ability levels and ethnic and social backgrounds, worldwide. Today, more than 40 per cent of US schools rely on Renaissance solutions for data and insights to equitably move learning forward.
PHOTO CAPTION: Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin announced that the Ministry will be undertaking assessments on children at public schools throughout the country to evaluate the extent of the learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at the Ministry. Also bringing remarks was Dominique McCartney-Russell, Acting Director.
(BIS Photos/Kristaan Ingraham)
FBI and Bahamas looking into woman’s death
#TheBahamas, March 17, 2023 – The FBI is investigating a woman’s ‘suspicious’ death on a Carnival Cruise ship in February. The unnamed woman and her husband boarded the Carnival Sunshine on February 27th, for a trip to the Bahamas, but she was dead before they arrived in the port in The Bahamas.
The FBI said Carnival’s team had administered life saving measures when the woman was reported unresponsive, but they were unsuccessful. The body and the woman’s husband were released to the Bahamian authorities when the cruise arrived in the country.
In a statement shared with US media houses, Carnival Cruises claimed the death has been a natural one. The Nassau Guardian said a source told them the police findings had concurred with that assessment saying it was a “normal sudden death of a tourist who wasn’t feeling well.”
The FBI was waiting for the cruise and when it got back to South Carolina on March 4th, they immediately boarded and began to investigate the room based on ‘evidence of a crime.’ The FBI also searched the couple’s car.
No updates have been shared to contradict the currently established cause of death.
Why Sargassum Matters
#TheBahamas, March 17, 2023 – “If you don’t like it, go to another beach!” Is what Aaron John, an Education Officer from The Bahamas National Trust jokingly tells our news team about sargassum blooms; his quip, motivated by the necessity of nature when pit against the notion that there is a real threat when the stinky seaweed makes its annual appearance.
John can admit, he says, that Sargassum isn’t very pretty but life isn’t all about aesthetics and in this instance that ugly patch serves a purpose.
“We love our sandy beaches, but in order to keep them we need Sargassum. When storms come, they wash away all the sand off the beach but sargassum acts as a mulch to protect the sand from water erosion. It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t feel good but we need it.”
He said it also provides a habitat for small crustaceans, crabs, and insects that are all necessary to our ecosystem and islanders have found use for the weed.
“Historically, (in The Bahamas) we have been using sargassum as fertilizer, especially in the family Islands as far back as I know,” he said. “Birds don’t go on the beach unless there is Sargassum and what do they do? they feed – it’s beautiful.”
He encouraged residents to just leave it be if they came across it.
Sargassum isn’t harmful to humans, except for people with respiratory issues who may find the rotten egg smell triggers asthma. Despite this, it’s not advisable to walk through the weeds which may hide sharp rocks and bottles or vulnerable animals.
Experts say Sargassum blooms began to increase in size around 2011 and have continued to get bigger and bigger since. This year‘s bloom is around 5000 miles long and 300 miles wide and visible from space.
“I know it’s not a general outlook, but I would like to change the perspective on sargassum,” John said, pointing out The Bahamas National Trust is actively working to decrease alarm over the less worrisome events like sargassum as it raises the profile on the environmentally devastating.
Lease agreement approved for diaspora office
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos’ Bahamas Diaspora Office is moving closer and closer to opening day, following the Cabinet’s approval for the signing of a lease agreement.
The lease will be signed with FINCEN ltd in the Bahamas. Several weeks ago, Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration confirmed to our news team that the location had been found and was being finalized; now a lease is approved at the Cabinet level.
The interest in the TCI from TC Bahamians was evident in the diaspora meetings held in early February. The two meetings held in Nassau and Grand Bahama were completely full and over-subscribed by hundreds.
It’s interest which the Government hopes will translate to real life population growth, bolstering the local population before the native population ‘goes extinct’.
The Opposition PDM is on the record with what it feels is a far more viable solution to a dwindling native population; seek out the country’s own citizens and bring them back home.
Cabinet did not state when the office will open.
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