Unequal access to educational resources during COVID-19 deepens inequities in Jamaica
Two very recent and public cases that highlighted both the challenges and ingenuity came via the stories of the mother who had created a schedule for her three kids who were sharing her cellphone. The second story – a video - was shared by UNICEF Jamaica, involved a teacher using a community blackboard (or walls) to write lessons so that children could come with their pencils and notebooks and write the lessons down to work on later. While these stories are remarkable and show the level of investment parents and educators are making in the lives of kids, we must all do our part to create the type of infrastructure that reimagine ways to instruct, mentor and develop the bright minds of ALL kids, many of whom will become our future leaders.
Like so many others, Reading Owls has had to pivot to meet our communities where they are. The primary needs of our students include technology and printed materials. A blended approach is needed because so many communities and homes lack technology or consistent internet and electricity. This pandemic has shown that we must reinvent ourselves and think carefully not just about the immediate, supplemental needs of our target populations, but strategies and tools that are replicable and sustainable. This approach will provide the following benefits.
Less disruptions in the lives of the kids we serve, as schools need to close either because of this pandemic or some other catastrophe.
Deeper engagement with all the constituencies and stakeholders, re how to best integrate learning at home.
Working with local and international partners who are leaders in the virtual space who will help us think about the technology and educational tools needed to adapt to a fluid and rapidly developing global environment. Many of these discussions are already underway.
Capacity building for us as an organization to quickly respond to the emerging needs of our partner schools.
Currently, coronavirus cases continue to increase globally, suggesting an uncertain return to face-to-face learning. This increases the possibility of some kids not returning to school unless the right and immediate interventions occur.
We cannot do this work without you, our loyal supporters. Would you join us by making a donation of any amount today to support our efforts to bring technology and other educational resources to kids who badly need them? Your donation will help children in disadvantaged communities across Jamaica continue their education during COVID-19 school closures; keep the joy of reading intact; the sparkle in their eyes alive and the dream of a bright future a reality.
The Reading Owls Team