PC desktops for Nelson Street Girls’ as schools seek devices
September 29, 2020
Rebuilding community in Sea Lots
September 29, 2020

Brasso Seco battles internet disparity

Brasso Seco RC is among the schools (Rose Hill RC, Matelot Community College, Mundo Nuevo RC and Caratal RC) without Ministry of Education supplied internet connectivity. It is located 16 miles north of Arima in the Paria Valley and can be accessed by the Blanchisseuse Road.

The school had applied for internet with the Ministry of Education’s Information and Communications Technology Division (ICTD) in 2015. To assist with the Ministry’s ICTD plan for schools, teachers got together and secured an internet device with limited bandwidth.

However, with the advent of the COVID pandemic and the closure of schools, the device remains mainly unused.

The landline phone has been down since 2018 when trees fell on the telephone lines. Checks with Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago have revealed that there is still an active account in the school’s name.

The school has 36 pupils. The classes are “multi-grade” meaning each teacher has two classes: Infants One and Two, Standards One and Two, Standards Three and Four and Standard Five.

Since March, when the lockdown began, teachers have been sending “blocks” of work usually on Monday and Wednesday which are to be returned within the week.

Reminders are given Tuesdays and Thursdays and teachers try to communicate with parents on Friday to remind them of the necessity of ensuring pupil participation and to give feedback to the parents.

Most students have been responding well. Separate schoolwork must be prepared for the few children with different learning abilities.

WhatsApp is the main communication channel between teachers and parents. When parents can, they top up on data and download the schoolwork. When it is completed a photo is taken and sent back to the teachers.

The main mode of delivery of schoolwork, however, is printed material, the cost of which is usually borne by the teachers.  Arrangements have to be made to get it to children who live some distance away, collected and returned to the school.  This is done by teachers who deliver work to the school for pick up and return.

There are pupils of the school who live in the Arima area and various areas on the Blanchisseuse Main Road.

For pupils from the village of Morne La Croix, 7 miles from Brasso Seco however, there is no public transport. Prior to COVID-19, children usually arrived at school by 6.30 a.m. as they travel on the school transport that comes to take secondary school students either to Arima or back to Blanchisseuse. Many pupils assist their parents with agricultural and other household activities before going to school.