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Wi-fi shortfall in primary school classrooms

Wi-fi in Bermuda's public primary schools does not cover classrooms, the Department of Education has said.

A spokeswoman confirmed that the wi-fi covered “only portions of each school” — the libraries, gyms and computer labs.

She added that wi-fi had been operational at all 18 of the island's public primary schools since the end of August — more than a week before the start of the term — and available for use by teachers for pupil instruction.

But she said that a policy to govern its use had still not been provided to teachers and principals.

The spokeswoman added: “It is in draft form and will be shared shortly.”

She said that the user guide would be used by the island's preschools as well as primary and middle schools.

The spokeswoman added: “The high schools currently have their own governance policies.”

Questions sent yesterday about why the wi-fi coverage did not include classrooms had not been responded to by press time.

Cole Simons, the Shadow Minister of Education, said that the wi-fi user policy should have been in place before the service was made available.

He added: “In most institutions, user manuals are made available in time for the first beta testing and way before the actual system roll-out date.”

Mr Simons said that Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education and Workforce Development, “should know better”.

He explained: “He has worked in the IT space and should have been more hands-on to ensure that our schools had completed an efficient wi-fi roll-out.

“He should have ensured that our teachers and principals had what they needed to support this smooth transition.”

Mr Simons said he did not have a problem with the restriction of wi-fi to specific areas “because the students need to be focused when in the classroom”.

Mr Simons added: “From where I stand, handheld devices should not be used, or turned on in the classrooms unless authorised by our teachers as a part of the education process.

“Our teachers should have our students' undivided attention, and as a matter of course, they should not be competing with handheld devices when teaching our young people.”

One principal confirmed yesterday that the service was up and running in the specified areas at her school. She said some of her teachers had already started using the service, but that schools were still settling in for a new year.

The principal added: “They are still settling the children into their routine.

“They can access it when they're ready.”

She said that pupils would only have wi-fi access through school-approved devices.

The principal, who added that her school had some wi-fi service last year, said she felt it was too soon to say if wi-fi should be in all classrooms.

She explained: “What works for me is what works for my teachers.

“Where we have it now is accessible to all of my children. So that's what's most important for us.”

Mr Rabain said last month that a user policy for the wi-fi was being created and would be provided to teachers at the start of the school year.

He said the policy would govern “how the service is used and who has access to it”.

Mr Rabain added: “The purpose of having internet in schools is, in fact, to have it part of the curriculum.”

Policy draft: education minister Diallo Rabain (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published September 27, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated September 27, 2018 at 8:27 am)

Wi-fi shortfall in primary school classrooms

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