Jamaica Observer: KINGSTON – Some 10,000 students who have returned to the classroom since last November are in urgent need of remedial attention according to the Minister of Education and Youth, Fayval Williams.

The Minister made the disclosure while answering questions from Opposition Member of Parliament for St Andrew South Eastern, Julian Robinson, during the recent sitting of the Parliament’s Standing Finance Committee. The Committee, over two days, examined the $912 billion Estimates of Expenditure for the 2022/23 fiscal year.

While the number of 10,000 is cause for concern, the actual number of students in need of some intervention could be higher as there are still thousands of students who have not had any contact with the education system since schools were closed in March 2020, shortly after Jamaica confirmed its first case of COVID-19.

Nearly 600,000 students are in the public school system from the early childhood to the secondary/high school level.

“Preliminarily about 10,000 are going to require real intensive hands-on [to get them back on track],” Williams said in response to Robinson. When asked how the matter will be dealt with, Williams said $250 million was set aside to address the necessary remedial work which she explained will include extra lessons, a homework programme and online interventions.

“We have math and literary coaches that are going to be working with under-performing schools,” Williams informed. She said there are also student coaches, pullout sessions for lagging students and co-teaching and planning. The minister said there will also be math and literary camps and parents have been advised that there will be another summer school programme similar to the one that was conducted last year to help students make-up lost time.

Williams also told the committee that “we are finding more and more of our students”. She said that of the 120,000 “unaccounted for” students who had no contact with the system, 40,000 have been found and have been re-engaged.