STATEMENT FOR THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY BYTHE
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION & CULTURE
HON. MYRON V. WALWYN
ON E-LEARNING AND ONLINE TEST PREPARATION SYSTEM
Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Education believes that our education system should give our students the required skills for success in all areas. Our students are growing up in a technological age and in understanding this we have been seeking to incorporate modern technological forms of teaching and learning in the classroom. We have introduced the ICT programme at the Grade five level in all primary schools. A total of 20 promethean boards were installed in secondary schools to be used in Grade seven classes. Our newest school, the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies is equipped to accommodate the latest technological devices to augment learning. Technology is captivating and fun and our students spend a lot of time on smart phones, computers, and other technological devices outside of the classroom.
Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Education therefore has made the decision to take another step and offer students, parents and teachers additional learning support through an eLearning and online tutorial and test preparation platform through the Caribbean based GoGSat Limited. During the week of 24th April, 2017 we will launch the BVI portal, which provides access to the GoGSat platform at www.Learninghub.online. The aim is to increase student achievement by augmenting the teaching and learning process in the classroom, to align students learning in all subjects regardless of the school and to provide an academic pathway for late achievers and persons seeking a high school diploma that are outside of the formal education system, inclusive of those that are incarcerated.
Madam Speaker, the Learning Hub targets primary and secondary school students from Grades 4 – 12, and their respective teachers as well as independent students in alternative secondary school programmes in the territory. This eLearning and online test preparation system will provide learning and testing resources for the core subjects of Math, English Language, Social Studies and Science at the primary level, all subjects at the secondary level including Financial Services, Tourism, Virgin Islands Studies and Civics, as well as all our CSEC and CAPE subjects. All students can benefit:
- It will help them to stay on track, with what is being taught in the classroom,
- It has a tutorial component for those who need extra lessons on selected topics
- For advanced students the opportunity to move ahead in covering the syllabus and content even before it is done in class.
- For those on a different academic pathway, objectives and content systematically outlined are available on the learning hub that can be used to prepare them to successfully complete secondary certification on their own if they have the ability to do so.
Madam Speaker, in addition to providing mock exams and topic specific tests, the learning hub has the capability of generating notes, study guides, handouts and work sheets on specific topic areas by grade level. Teachers can also set up chat rooms for their classes where concepts can be introduced or reinforced. The system can grade essays, offer live tutorials, provide homework help, answer questions for students in real time and generate educational games also.
Madam Speaker, further to all the benefits already identified for this initiative, as the programme develops we will be able to facilitate independent studies in preparation for high school diplomas, and regional examinations such as CSEC and CAPE independently. The portal will cater to individuals doing private studies outside the confines of a classroom setting as all objectives and study notes by subject will be available. The Prison Education programme can be augmented by this as well as students enrolled in the Alternative Secondary Education Programme. Ultimately in collaboration with the Examinations Unit, individuals seeking secondary school qualifications can study independently using the Learning Hub services and then complete exams in the required subject areas to earn the necessary credentials.
Madam Speaker, the learning Hub offers24/7 access to learning and testing materials. Maintenance and upgrades come with no additional cost. It can be taken anywhere, at any time.
Madam Speaker, parents can monitor and work with their children and become involved in the education of their child as well as remain in constant communication with the teacher. We anticipate that this initiative will augment what is being taught in the classroom and positively affect academic performance.
Madam Speaker, the agreement for this learning hub is being done through Digicel BVI Limited. Through this agreement, the government will give access to a maximum of 4100 users which will cover students and teachers of public and private schools as well as private users. Madame Speaker as I just said, this programme, is not just for the public school students, but it is also for the private school students, because they are all our children. Parents will be asked to partner with the government in this project by committing $5.00 per month (which equates to 17 cents per day) or $60. 00 a year for full use of this system and the government through the Ministry of Education will bear the remaining cost of the 2.50 or 30.00 per year for every student registered.
We have already begun the process of collecting User Information. A key component to this on-line process is individual email addresses for each user and for under age students, parent’s permission is being sought. To facilitate this, a “virgin islands student.edu” domain was acquired and each student within the system can now have a student email address for the duration of time in formal education. We have had very keen interest from the public and private schools’administration and teachers as they see the benefits for the students at every grade level.
Madam Speaker, we are not alone, neither will we be guinea pigs with this programme. A few other Caribbean countries have engaged the services of the GoGSat learning hub and since its launch; it has assisted thousands of students, teachers and other education stakeholders. For the past 11 years the developers of the education eLearning and online test preparation system have produced resources that have helped hundreds of students to be successful in their national examinations, the regional Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and The Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) examinations and thus earn scholarships.
Madam Speaker, we look forward to launching this programme for our learners and anticipate similar successes from this project for our students in the Virgin Islands.
Thank you Madam Speaker.