President of the Private Childcare Providers Nisha Hoyte says there is one group of students who will be left behind as schools continue online whether they have access to devices and internet or not. That is preschoolers – children between the ages three and five.
According to Hoyte, who was speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew, these children have been out of school since March and cannot manipulate devices to join virtual classes.
“This age group for preschoolers it’s very difficult for them to sit on Zoom for 40 minutes even for 20 minutes, their attention spans are very short normally in a face to face setting we have centres and they can move in-between and we can keep them engaged,” Hoyte said.
Early childcare learning is not compulsory in this country but Hoyte said there are over 800 private registered preschools and only a quarter have been able to successfully implement online learning.
“Currently our children, unfortunately, are going to have a huge gap, “she said.
Hoyte said the young student’s short attention span may be one reason they have not been learning but a lack of devices in the household or impatient parents are other contributing factors. And because the type of schooling is not mandatory parents see no harm in dis-enrolling their children.
“It seems a lot of people think that there is no technique behind what we do but teaching a child to read and write, teaching them basic skills of being able to put back on their clothes, wash their hands, go into the bathroom on their own, packing back their lunch kits, being able to follow directions, having the skill set to understand that even though I am an only child or maybe the youngest in my home I have to be able to share I have to be kind,” she explained.
“Between 0-5 years is when you build that connectivity in the brain that fosters the education throughout,” she continued.
Skills Hoyte said will be difficult to translate online.
Hoyte said the Ministry of Education does not take them seriously and has not met with them since schools closed in March. She called for Government intervention.
“We don’t even get a two minutes in the Prime Minister’s conference every other week,” she said.
“I don’t know when we will be addressed,” she continued.
Guardian Media reached out to Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly who said her ministry cannot directly address their concerns but said she corresponded with the group both by letters and WhatsApp. Gadsby-Dolly said she directed them to the Ministry of Finance.
Hoyte said now that they know schools will not reopen in January based on the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday landlords have started evicting s preschool owners so many children may not have a school to return to when it officially reopens.
And there is another issue, according to the Private Childcare Providers President while they adhere to guidelines and remain closed several black-market daycares have surfaced. Hoyte’s main concern was that these people do not have the relevant qualifications.
“There are a lot of little places that are taking in children and they have nothing to lose because they are doing it in their homes but they do not have the proper training,” she said.
She said they understand why children have to be at home but it’s no fault of theirs.