Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 06, 2020 (SKNIS): In his address to the nation on the occasion of World Teacher’s Day on October 05, Minister of Education, the Honourable Jonel Powell stated that it is difficult to imagine the future of education without technology.
Minister Powell mentioned that St. Kitts and Nevis is among the leading Caribbean countries in investments in its digital foundation, most notably in upgrading its digital infrastructure.
“With a capable network to deliver broadband to government offices, schools, and other public service facilities, St Kitts and Nevis is poised to modernize and digitize government operations to offer a suite of services to digitally enabled citizens, including the delivery of education in a virtual environment,” he said.
The minister said that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) ranked St Kitts and Nevis number one in the Caribbean region in 2017 (#37 in the world of 176 countries) in their Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Development Index, which assesses how ICTs contribute to economic, educational and social impacts.
Minister Powell said that first, ICT infrastructure needs to be in place, and it needs to be widely accessible.
“It is almost impossible for teachers to reimagine the future of education without ICT infrastructure being in place and widely accessible,” he said. “Second, the ICT infrastructure needs to be used, with skills influencing the quality of that use.”
The Education Minister noted that the “evolving digitization is increasing the country’s resilience to external shocks such as COVID-19 pandemic to continue business and government operations within an environment of social distancing rules and contactless daily transactions.”
In terms of the delivery of educational services, St. Kitts and Nevis adapted innovative and flexible ways during the crisis, said Minister Powell.
“For example, the deployment of digital education such as moving the curriculum and instructions online, in addition to low-tech options such as television, radio and mobile apps (WhatsApp, phone or social media) was adopted to provide pedagogical guidance and support for teachers and parents,” he said.
“School closures presented the Government of St Kitts and Nevis with opportunities to close the digital divide or gap between those who had internet access and those with limited or no access,” he added. “As we reimagine the future, these lessons will inform the Ministry of Education’s deployment of its strategic plan and collaboration in terms of public private partnerships to introduce innovative solutions to deliver educational resources and improve access to every household within the Federation.”
Minister Powell stated that as teachers reimagine the future, “there is no better time to invest in STEAM courses, digital literacy and skills and to enhance ICT connectivity within households and communities.”
“Building digital skills and creating a local market for them will be critical for St Kitts and Nevis to be competitive as a services-based economy, creating job opportunities, and/or attracting digitally enabled industries to the Federation,” said the Minister of Education.