The COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound challenges in education, as many young people who lack technological devices and internet access are being left behind their peers in the shift to remote learning.
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is stepping in to close this gap for disadvantaged students enrolled at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
On Thursday, CDB’s Board of Directors approved a USD 200,000 grant to assist with purchasing information and communication technology and other remote learning solutions for students and to expand the university’s capacity to deliver remote education for all.
Division Chief of the Social Sector Division at CDB, Deidre Clarendon emphasised how the move to online learning has especially affected students from vulnerable groups, saying: “While it’s been necessary to protect the wider population, evidence has shown that the sudden shift away from face-to-face lectures to remote learning has proven difficult, particularly for the most vulnerable, such as women, rural learners, students with disabilities and those from lower socio-economic circumstances.
“Inequitable education delivery negatively impacts both the individuals and the wider society, which is why CDB is supporting this project. It offers The UWI an opportunity to work collaboratively across campuses to address the challenges faced by the most disadvantaged students as it expands remote teaching and learning during the COVID-19 restrictions.”
The project ‘Addressing Inequities in Online Teaching and Learning at the University of the West Indies’ will tackle the problem on multiple fronts, guided by data collected from student surveys conducted by the University.
The project’s funding will provide 228 computing devices to be made available to disadvantaged students across The UWI’s five campuses, and 70 students will be granted internet service for one semester.
The project will also cover procurement of equipment which will enhance UWI TV’s production and broadcast capabilities of so that it can better meet the remote learning needs of all students. Course instructors and other university personnel will also have access to training to for instructional television.
The project is aligned with CDB’s 2017 Education and Training Policy and Strategy which affirms the Bank’s commitment to addressing inequities to educational access and participation across its Borrowing Member Countries.