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Records not kept of school days lost to Covid-19, Pati request finds

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education (File photograph)

No record was kept of how many schooldays children in the public education system have missed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Royal Gazette can reveal.

The Department of Education admitted that it did not hold the statistics after a public access to information request from the Gazette.

Jacqueline Eve, the information officer for the department, said that, despite careful consideration of the request, the records could not be found.

She added: “Unfortunately, the record that you have requested does not exist after all reasonable steps have been taken to locate it.

“The Department of Education does not hold the records you have requested and, to our knowledge, the record is not held by any other public authority.”

The news came after education authorities were asked for a breakdown of the number of days during term time since March 18, 2020 that pupils attended their classrooms, were taught on a remote basis or not at all.

Ms Eve said: “It should be noted that contact and follow-up with leadership and administration Department of Education staff was made regarding the location of requested records.

“However, it was confirmed, under section 3 of the Public Access to Information Act 2010, a reference to a record that is held by a public authority includes a record that is in the possession or custody of, or is under the control of, that authority – and unfortunately the Department of Education does not hold such a record.”

She added: “Notifications of school closures and remote learning were advertised in the media as press release to the wider public.”

Diallo Rabain, the education minister, and Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, have emphasised that in-school teaching was the preferred method.

Mr Rabain said in the House of Assembly last week: “It has been established that a young person is more likely to meet the learning and wellbeing outcomes they desire and need to succeed in the world, if they have the opportunity to engage in high-quality instruction in social learning settings. That is, they are engaged with in-school learning.“

The Royal Gazette asked the department why the records were not kept and if it intended to try obtain the information requested.

Officials were also asked if the lack of a record was an oversight and if it planned to ensure that such details were recorded in future. The department did not respond by press time.

Pati applicants can ask for a review by the head of the relevant public authority of any Pati decision through the Information Commissioner’s office.

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Published March 31, 2022 at 7:41 am (Updated March 31, 2022 at 7:41 am)

Records not kept of school days lost to Covid-19, Pati request finds

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