Statement from the chair of COHSOD-education on COVID-19

Michael S Browne, Education Minister Antigua and Barbuda and Chair of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD)


The COVID 19 Pandemic has been characterised by many as the unseen enemy moving swiftly across the globe. To date, at the international level, it has affected approximately 1.5 billion students with run on impacts for teachers and caregivers. Within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) it has disrupted the education and careers of over five million students and two hundred thousand teachers across the Basic Education, Skills for Lifelong Learning and Tertiary Education Sectors, including the provision of special education. In the CARICOM Region, a whole of Government approach has been taken to managing the impact of COVID-19 at the national level. The Region is to be applauded for its swift and coordinated responses to COVID-19, putting in place the health, education, social, economic and security protocols needed to reduce the impact on the social sustainability and economic resilience of the region.
With a particular reference to COVID-19 and education, the response required relates to decisions to ensure the continuity of education on the one hand, and enabling a swift recovery on the other. Now more than ever, the Region has become acutely aware of the essential roles played by schools and teachers in maintaining the safety and security of children and vulnerable youth. COVID-19 has amplified our awareness of the need for increased technological innovation in the operationalisation and assessment of educational systems and has triggered the need for a response to education for all, in periods of crisis.

The closure of schools has impacted the earning capacity and participation rates of caregivers, in particular single parents and those who are self-employed; challenged the health security of children who rely on the provision of school meals; increased the risk of exposure to incidents of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and hampered the successful integration of at-risk youth in continuing education.

Teachers have also been affected. They are now being called to execute pedagogical innovation that many feel not prepared or trained for; challenging the quality of educational delivery and the efficacy of teachers. COVID-19 is rehearsing often aired propositions on the need for education systems to become 21st Century ready; it is challenging expectations for continuing teacher professional development and creating new conditions of labour for the teaching force, made of up mostly of women, who also fulfil obligations as caregivers.

COVID-19 has exposed even more the pestering inequalities of educational provision in many of our Member States (MS). This also challenges our ability to deliver universal quality education to our citizens. There is now a greater urgency to secure the continued access and participation of children, youth and adults who live with special education needs and disabilities. Those families who are extremely poor or live in remote geographical locations (including the teachers who live in these areas) are at this time unable to fully access the educational accommodations that are being put in place by governments as interim responses to the need for educational provision at a distance over an undeclared, yet protracted period of time. The uncertainty of when the pandemic will come to an end is facilitating deepened uncertainties in educational provision.

A Call to Action- COVID19 and Education CARICOM
As it relates to the education sector our readiness to respond to the provision of quality basic education at a distance, using online synchronous and asynchronous approaches has been prefigured by the 21st Century readiness of our educational infrastructure. Educational resilience requires an urgent digital transformation. Within MS educational continuity and stability have been managed through interventions that range from the creation of learning packets that are delivered to children, to the creation of educational television series facilitated by particular experts, to the use of learning platforms where both teachers and students can interact via synchronous or asynchronous modes. Out of an abundance of concern and using the whole of government approach, MS have also ensured the provision of welfare relief to students and their families.

Our Higher Education sector appears most ready to respond to the provision of technology enabled education in a crisis, with faculty and students of some institutions more ready to continue their educational careers in an online environment. However, attention must be given to TVET institutions, and Community Colleges, to ensure that they too have the capacity and infrastructure to contribute to the normalcy of post-secondary education provision. The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has been a regional vanguard in the area of E-Testing and has demonstrated their solidarity with the region through a proposal for a revised examinations strategy that aims to ensure the integrity of the examinations process, produce valid grades and sustain educational progression across levels of learning.

It is evident, that a critical paradigm shift in educational provision is needed; we need to ensure educational resilience through digital transformation. This is the call that is made through the UNESCO SDG 2030 Agenda and reflected in the CARICOM Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy, through the design and implementation of a Caribbean New School Model. Responding to this call can no longer be delayed by the vagaries of financial and political positioning. If the region is to acquire the economic and social resiliency required for educational provision it must become innovative, mediated by ICTs and driven by a competency-based approach.

I take this opportunity as the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Antigua and Barbuda and Chair of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) to call my colleague Ministers to action. To aid in a swift recovery from COVID-19, Ministries with responsibility for Education across the CARICOM Region must:

  • Contribute to a regional capacity to respond through knowledge and resource sharing that ensures that we respond and recover at equitable rates as one CARICOM.
  • Articulate national policies related to the provision of education in periods of crisis, ensuring the protection of the most vulnerable, including where relevant, members of the migrant population.
  • Commit to a digital transformation that guarantees the resilience of the educational system. This is an investment where educational leaders, teachers and students are enabled to engage in quality learning and assessment using fully online platforms; thus aiding in the rapid recovery from the effects of COVID-19.
  • Strengthen public private partnerships with members of industry to enable a smoother transition between pre-, during- and post-COVID-19 realities. Safeguarding the future of our national and regional workforce and entrepreneurial sectors.
  • Ensure that the information related to COVID-19 is disseminated in such a manner that allows teachers, students and families with cognitive, physical and psycho-social learning differences, access to factual information that supports their ability to advocate for and protect themselves and their families in this crisis.
  • Recognise and cater for the mental health impact of COVID- 19 on teachers and learners, paying attention to the ways in which this too can serve to disrupt learning. Interventions must be designed that support the emotional wellbeing of learners, teachers and parents.
We do not know the length of this road, but we do know that we are journeying together. Let us adhere to the national and regional safety protocols designed to ensure that we remain in the best of health to continue to serve our children, teachers and communities who stand with us in service. We are all obligated to protect our CARICOM legacy that is the health, well-being and educational excellence of the children and youth of our Region.

Copyright 2012 Dominica News Online, DURAVISION INC. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

Disclaimer: The comments posted do not necessarily reflect the views of and its parent company or any individual staff member. All comments are posted subject to approval by We never censor based on political or ideological points of view, but we do try to maintain a sensible balance between free speech and responsible moderating.

We will delete comments that:

  • contain any material which violates or infringes the rights of any person, are defamatory or harassing or are purely ad hominem attacks
  • a reasonable person would consider abusive or profane
  • contain material which violates or encourages others to violate any applicable law
  • promote prejudice or prejudicial hatred of any kind
  • refer to people arrested or charged with a crime as though they had been found guilty
  • contain links to "chain letters", pornographic or obscene movies or graphic images
  • are off-topic and/or excessively long

See our full comment/user policy/agreement.


  1. The Truth Be Told
    April 17, 2020

    Francisco the man’s comment is in relation to education. This epilogue is about the impact of COVID-19 on education and how this have affected the billions of Students. So saying this, you do not have to be so rude. You are supposed to be an “intelligent” person and whilst you may want to see or be interested in articles dealing with the containment of the virus, again this article is not about that but ends with advice to the education sector. That is his fort as an education Minister. I need to read your article for I do expect you to contribute something “not a waste of time” but informative, giving suggestions. All you do is vent and hide your so much “intelligence”.

    • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
      April 18, 2020

      Yes, I am so dumb that I don’t understand English!

  2. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    April 17, 2020

    You know everybody have a statement since the advent of this virus; the problem is; all said are the worst trivial comments one read.

    Your epilogue is lengthy, but what are you saying?

    There is nothing scientific relating to COVID-19, you have not contributed anything scientific that can be used to resolve the problem, all you prove is that you know how to write long comments.

    Reality is most contributors on DNO can do just about the same if given a chance!

    I would hope if you thought you were writing an ethology on the subject, you might be contributing something scientific to help find a vaccine or a cure.

    An ethology is the scientific objective study of the behavior of something as a deadly destructive virus as the world is dealing with.

    It could also be human behavior, usually with a focus on behavior under natural conditions, and viewing behavior as an evolutionarily adaptive trait!

    I read everything you wrote and concluded it’s a total waste of time.

    • April 17, 2020

      Telemaque it seems as if you are simply popping out from your black lagoon territory to come here on DNO to write a set of negative stuff and depart again.

      First of all, knowing you a little bit, I am sure that you did not read the long statement as you claimed; and not only that, you cannot read and understand a short paragraph for more this long commentary.

      Scientific this, that, and the other thing; the man never said he was a scientist, he simply spoke of the effects and challenges of Corvid-19 pertaining to his role, which is “education”

      If you think he can contribute scientifically to find a cure or vaccine for the sickness, what about you? You are the one claiming to be the scientist. Except that scientists are on the go, seeking data to experiment with, so to come up with a concrete conclusion.

      They don’t have the time to read from the books of the stone ages and to use it to insult others. You need to stop with that kind of rudeness

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

:) :-D :wink: :( 8-O :lol: :-| :cry: 8) :-? :-P :-x :?: :oops: :twisted: :mrgreen: more »

 characters available