In about six weeks or so, at least two secondary schools in Antigua and Barbuda will be outfitted with the necessary infrastructure to accommodate online examinations, according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
“By the start of the new school year for sure, all of the secondary schools will be outfitted with the necessary infrastructure and the increased broadband so they can do their exams online,” Browne told OBSERVER.
Pilots for this plan were conducted a few years ago in some schools and this gave rise to many concerns. One major issue voiced by those involved in the pilots was the slow and inconsistent Internet in schools.
To address this, Browne said: “Already we have a third broadband supplier that is offering the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) 10 gigs at a cost of US $20,000 or $22,000 somewhere around there, so APUA will be able to buy cheaper by bypassing Cable and Wireless or Flow and get it a little cheaper, so that we can have greater capacity. And by having greater capacity at APUA, it means that we could better equip the schools. So rather than them having 20 megs they can probably have 100 megs.”
However, teachers are still concerned about electricity irregularities as well as lack of facilities and resources to accommodate the sitting of exams online.
They have expressed hope that purchasing additional computers, back up generator systems and building additional computer rooms will be included in government’s plans.
Browne said Information Minister Melford Nicholas has been tasked with providing an estimate on how much it will cost the state to equip the schools.