The new school term started yesterday but for the children of Rincon Village, Las Cuevas they are still to have one full day of virtual learning.
The remote community, nestled along the North Coast, has little to no cell phone reception and no internet access.
To access the internet, villagers need to get to the main road, a half an hour walk for those without a vehicle.
For Sabrina Superville and her five children, this is their reality.
Four of Superville’s children are in primary school and the eldest just started Secondary School.
In November 2020, as part of the No Child Left Behind series, Guardian Media spoke to Superville about the difficulties she faced in trying to ensure her children have access to education.
GML revisited the community last week.
Superville said despite her pleas, the situation has gone from bad to worse. During the first interview, Superville said her 13-year-old son, Nathaniel used his bicycle to from their home to the main road for Internet access.
Last week, she said the bicycle was damaged and now Nathaniel must make the journey on foot.
And with the recent heavy rains and bad weather, the journey has become even more difficult and her son often misses class.
“His bike gone through so now he have to walk quite out the road and not he alone, because when I walking coming from work, it have other students does be walking going out the road.
“Some of them does go quite up in the village by the car park by the beach to do online teaching and when you go out there, sometime you do get service, sometime you don’t, is according to how many students online and the same problem keep going on,” she said.
She said even when Nathaniel makes it to the main road, the connection is spotty and he is often bumped off his classroom.
She said Nathaniel has been getting packages from the school to complete at home but she said although he completed them, he is yet to get a response.
Her younger son, a Standard Five student, received a tablet from the Ministry of Education but he too faces the same problem as his brother.
“Yes the ministry sent a tablet for him but normally for he to see what the teacher send, he have to come out the road, he have be by the window trying to see at least if he get a two bar to see what the teacher send on Google classroom and then too, he can’t walk out the road, is rain every minute.”
Her cousin, Sheneka Superville said after GML aired the plight of the community, employees from one Internet service provider visited the community.
But she said they did little else.
“They told us the line is dead and they never came back after that, so the line dead and they never come back to tell us they will come to change the lines so we phone can get service,so we will still left with no service, no internet and the children are getting left behind,” Sheneka said.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Education Minister and Member of Parliament for the area Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said the issue is with the country’s Internet service providers.
“The issue is that the connectivity infrastructure is weak in all the extremities of T&T. This has been raised with the Internet Service Providers by the Ministry of Education early on, and we are working with TATT (Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago) on a project to increase wifi in schools. The issue of building out infrastructure in those areas is an economic one which the ISPs have to make,” Gadsby-Dolly said.
She said the service providers have come together and offered a low priced home internet solution and the Ministry has provided them with a list of students who may benefit from the offer. She said the providers are currently working on the list.
Gadsby-Dolly said she has donated tablets to students in Rincon in her role as MP as well.
“There are areas in the village where service is available. However, for all students who cannot access virtual platforms, the Ministry of Education has instituted the package system, which should be used for student engagement.”