Online vs face to face – A step backwards in our education system – Jamaica Observer

Minister for Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams

Dear Editor,

I remember how great it was at the time to hear and see the two Jamaican political leaders – Michael Manley and Edward Seaga – taking principled stands against the apartheid system in South Africa.

Apartheid (for young people) was the separation of people by race/skin color in South Africa, and Jamaica was one of the main voices against this unjust system.

Seaga delivered an exceptional speech at the 1987 Commonwealth Heads of Government in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in which he highlighted the strong impact of economic sanctions against South Africa.

I was a teenager at the time, but I felt proud because Seaga went directly against the arguments of renowned world leaders such as Margaret Thatcher.

Manley’s role was also very important. When Nelson Mandela visited Jamaica, he called Michael Manley a brother and a freedom fighter because of the great help he had given to the cause.

With Jamaica’s great track record against injustice, I, along with other parents, are shocked at the planned ‘apartheid’ program that is set to hit the Jamaican education system by January 2022 Under this modern discriminatory education system, vaccinated children will face-to-face learning while the unvaccinated will remain online for lessons.

Can the Ministry of Education enlighten us on this new approach to education? Is this a ministry mandate or are the school boards toying on their own?

We need an urgent explanation before the start of the school year in January 2022.

This decision is not based on scientific data, which shows:

1) The survival rate for children who contract the new coronavirus is 99.997%. It is obviously not a fatal disease for adolescents and the policy of the Ministry of Education must take this into account.

2) There is little to no evidence to suggest that children are super-spreaders of disease ( www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-15/what-we-know-about-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-children-quicktake). Earlier in 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in-person learning in schools was not associated with substantial community transmission, and the World Health Organization noted that schools are likely only not the main drivers of COVID-19.

3) There have been “rare” side effects in some teens who have received the vaccine ( www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/06/17/1007447098/pfizer-covid-vaccine-teens-symptoms-myocarditis). These include mild inflammation of the chest and heart (myocarditis).

We want total transparency in this matter. Since science does not seem to be driving this policy, what else is at stake? Is funding for any ministry’s projects or programs provided by private companies that influence policy direction on COVID-19 vaccination? School boards and principals should answer the same question.

It has long been known that one of the ways to reduce poverty and crime in any country is through a strong and vibrant education system. It would be very sad to go back to the days when access to education in Jamaica was based on class and color.

We call on Education Minister Faval Williams to provide the necessary advice on this matter.

Marsha Thomas

[email protected]