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By Orville Williams

The Education Ministry says it is prepared to assist parents, guardians and students in the new-look academic year, with the facilitation of homeschooling.

Many families have expressed concern at the thought of their children returning to the classroom – given the ongoing Covid-19 situation – and some have already decided against doing so, due to the risks involved.

Some of these families have determined that homeschooling might be the safest option to ensure continued learning, and the ministry will be supporting them in these decisions.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Education Minister Michael Browne said, “homeschooling has existed before Covid and several parents have already taken advantage of the opportunity to homeschool his/her child/children, so that option is available as well”.

Meanwhile, Director of Education Clare Browne explained what that would involve.

“The Ministry of Education is looking into all possibilities. Incidentally, the outline, the exact way you apply and everything that pertains to homeschooling, is enshrined in Section 81 of the Education Act of Antigua and Barbuda 2008.

“In addition to that, we have pulled out from the Act the relevant portions that persons would need, inclusive of how to set up an education plan,” Browne said.

“As a matter of fact, last night, an application form was developed and we have pulled out some guidelines that we have placed on the ministry’s website, so parents can just go there, access, download, complete the form, prepare the education plan and submit that application to the Ministry of Education.”

At the same press conference, the director of education also announced the ministry’s plans to create an online school. He warned that although the plan is under consideration, it will not happen overnight.

“In addition to homeschooling, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is looking into the development of an online school. It is true that we can walk and chew gum at the same time, but…developing a school is not just like abracadabra, it is going to take a little bit [of time] and so we’re looking into that possibility as well.

“All things that are possible, we intend to try to engage them,” Browne added.

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