Learning continues at this rural school, via motorbike!

At Little Bay Primary School in Westmoreland, where I am Principal, we have a lot of communities that are far off main roads and cannot be reached by normal transport. Some of our students may not always have internet access, and with school being closed they are even more disadvantaged.

Now is the time to think of different ways to get things done! So I started to use a motorbike taxi to deliver and pick up printed homework assignments once a week to the students who cannot get online.

I remember the first time when I rode up on the bike the children were like “Oh my God!” and would run to the bike. We put their names on the homework packages, and especially during this time of COVD-19 something as simple as that can make them feel special.

Leaving no child behind

Parents too have been excited – they say no one has ever reached out to us like this.

We do our best to ensure that no child is left out of teaching and learning. We take our school register with us and with each delivery we mark the children present as if we would for school. The next week we pick up the work and in the meantime teachers can reach out to the students by phone.

Through this process the children still feel like they remain part of a learning community.

Thanks to partnership

Photograph of Keron King, Principal of Little Bay Primary School in Westmoreland before the COVID-19 outbreak.
ContributedKeron King, Principal of Little Bay Primary School in Westmoreland without his mask before the COVID-19 outbreak.

How it came together was simple: a partnership between the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, the school, the parents and the community. I especially want to thank our Senior Education Officer Patricia Haughton in Region 4. I emailed her all the work for students and while she was at home, she got them printed and organised at her office where I could pick them up. Back in the community, I asked one of the bike taxis to help me deliver.

Truth is we’ve always tried every means and method available to reach parents and engage our students. For our leadership at the school, equity is extremely important, and it’s something we must continue to work on even beyond COVID-19.

There is a mindset that rural schools are distant, but the reality is that it doesn’t have to be that way. For instance, we ensured we got funding from stakeholders to have EduFocal as a timetabled course. Every student at the school has an access code. So, when COVID-19 happened to us and we met as staff we could take some comfort in knowing that we were ahead.

Ensuring equality of access

We must recognise that not every child has access to the internet. Before COVID-19 our computer teacher Romaine Penado from the Rockhouse Foundation would come in on a Saturday and those children who can’t access at home come to the lab to use computers there – we also arrange for their transport.

Some people may see us as ‘way out inna bush’, but we are showing up, and thanks to supporters like the Rockhouse Foundation, we can keep improving. I’ve been here about two years, and at 32 years old I am one of the youngest Principals in this region, and during this time the school has moved from being rated unsatisfactory to satisfactory.

When you partner with a local school like ours you are partnering with the future. Three years ago, this may not have been the school people would want to highlight, not the school of choice. COVID-19 is testing us as educators, but we are determined to pass, and with distinction!

What is UNICEF doing?

For more information about our response to COVID-19 assisting government and non-governmental organisations to protect the rights of children, and to access resources for parents, visit our webpage dedicated to this emergency: unicef.org/jamaica/coronavirus-disease-covid-19

This post is part of a series looking at how COVID-19 is impacting children and families and also people who are addressing their challenges. Post your #COVID19diaries story to social media and tag @unicefjamaica to be featured!

 

 

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Comments:

  1. This is so wonderful. My son attend Church hill primary in santoy Hanover it would be great if church hill was doing the same thing that if they are not .

  2. This is a commendable approach by principal Keron King. One in which equity among students is valued. This approach suggest that the Principal is a front-line worker and a bold ‘captain’. I am confident that this move has improved his school-home-community relationship.

  3. Commendable. The whole idea of reaching out to ensure learning continues…

  4. Absolutely amazing. A real out of the box innovation. I’m impressed.

  5. Commitment of the highest order.Putting students first and going above and beyond is commendable

  6. awesome heart Mr King, God bless you. What suggestion do you have to enhance early childhood school teachers and principals. ( Basic school )

    1. Simply wonderful Mr Principal. Your actions display the authentic Jamaican principle…caring. I salute you sir, keep up the good work.

  7. very excellent initiative my colleague,keep up the good work.

  8. principal with an extraordinary initiative, keep up the excellent job

  9. principal with an extraordinary initiative, keep up the excellent job sir.you will be rewarded.

  10. Bless you Sirs. Indeed you are beacons in the bushes and you give the rest of us in rural schools hope and encouragement. We are the unsung heroes who are overlooked in the flashy commercials. Continue to blaze the trail of enlightenment.

  11. Mr. King

    Continue to think outside of the box. You are making a difference in education