For the last couple of weeks, many students island-wide have had to focus their efforts on adapting to online learning due to the impact which the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on our country and more specifically our education system. Various students, however, struggle on a daily basis to fully participate in classes as a result of not having access to proper learning equipment. As a result, in an effort to assist in the transition to an online learning school forum, the National Youth Council of Dominica will be donating two (2) tablets to five (5) schools across the island namely- Soufriere Primary, Newtown Primary, Atkinson Primary, Sineku Primary, and the Salybia Primary School.
This initiative is in alignment with our Strong Bodies, Strong Minds Pilot Project (SBSM) which seeks to strengthen both the physical endurance and academic capacity of our primary school students through after school activities in partnership with the Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD) and funded by the United Way Trinidad & Tobago.
As stated previously, SBSM is an after-school program where students learn a myriad of skills ranging from cooking to sports, to agriculture, and even traditional aspects of our culture such as dance, music, herbs, and medicine. However, after the surge in Covid-19 cases and the closure of in-classroom learning, the council realized that it’s the initial approach to afternoon classes would no longer be plausible for the time being, therefore, a new strategy would have to be taken. The Tablet Donation initiative was developed as an SBSM COVID-19 friendly adjustment where students whose families would otherwise be unable to afford the devices or maintain its internet usage would now have those concerns.
President of the NYCD, Ashma McDougall echoes the sentiments of many as it relates to the challenges which come with online learning and the NYCD’s best intentions in assisting at least a few students. “We have recognized that the online learning transition has proven to be a challenge for many who lack the devices that can facilitate learning through these precarious times. Therefore, the NYCD has decided to contribute to the five schools which we previously identified for our SBSM programs in Soufriere, Newtown, and the Kalinago Territory. We will be donating two tablets to each of these schools for students who were identified by their principal”, the President stated.
She added that while the council is aware that the tablets are only part of the challenge, the project “will be supplementing and providing internet services along with the tablet for the students.”
McDougall encourages the students who will be using the devices to be prudent and accountable as the tablets will remain the property of the schools for present and future purposes.
Project Officer with the NYCD, Starel Seraphin noted that while the SBSM Program has been in limbo since the transition to virtual learning, he firmly believes that this donation will contribute greatly to our nation’s efforts of staying home and staying safe through this pandemic.
President McDougall concluded by adding that while “we understand two tablets are not much, we believe it’s a great way to at least help even though it’s through something as small as this. We are very happy that we can make this contribution to the schools with this online transition as we understand that in some of these communities the families are not able to provide devices for some of the students. Therefore, we do see this going a long way especially for the students who will be impacted and we invited other institutions, organizations, and even individuals to continue doing what they can to provide support to our students in this unprecedented time.”