As the territory’s education sector moves from physical classrooms to an e-learning platform due to the challenges posed by the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), Education Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley said plans are afoot to introduce a loan programme to allow students to access laptops.
Speaking during a remote-learning orientation session via a live Facebook broadcast on Tuesday, the minister said parents are required to pay for their children to get access to a device.
If a device is damaged by a student, Dr Wheatley said a replacement cost must be paid. That student will not be permitted any further participation in the programme unless the cost is paid.
“It is important to say that this is a loan programme and so these devices will remain the property of the Government of the Virgin Islands so that other persons who are coming into the system will have access to these devices,” the minister added.
Rent to own
Dr Wheatley also said the government is ‘entertaining and exploring’ the rent-to-own aspect where parents can pay ‘something’ on a monthly basis so that their children can own a government laptop.
He said while there is a possibility for that to happen, further announcements on it will be coming soon.
“Right now we are establishing just the loan programme,” he said.
In the event that there are insufficient laptops for everyone, Dr Wheatley said other measures will be put in place.
“We would have to print pockets of work for students to be able to do at home with their parents or caretakers. We are going to supplement those pockets with videos for persons who would be able to access the internet,” the minister said.
He added: “For persons who do not have access to any internet we are exploring the possibility of giving persons a jump drive with videos that they can plug into their smart televisions or any other device that can take a jump drive.”
Wheatley also encouraged persons with other suggestions on how students with limitations can be accommodated to come forward.
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