Organizations join forces to equip students for virtual learning

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Shakanlia Deveaux, receptionist at Patrick J. Bethel High School, is busy loading backpacks for students of Central Abaco Primary and Patrick J. Bethel High Schools. The backpacks include donated Alcatel 1T 10-inch tablets and additional school supplies to prepare students in Abaco and the Cays and Grand Bahama for the new academic year.

Fifteen hundred students in the disaster zones will receive tablets to continue their education during COVID-19 as part of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority’s (DRA) education priority in partnership with the Member of Parliament for North Abaco, the Honourable Darren Henfield, the Bahamas Hope Foundation, Odyssey Aviation and STARS Bahamas (Supporting Technology Access and Research for Students).

“The current pandemic has put an added burden on families with students in the disaster zones,” said Darren Henfield, Member of Parliament for North Abaco. “Having witnessed firsthand the impact of Dorian on Abaco I am pleased to see the rebuilding of the island. Much work has been done but much more work has to be done. I would like to thank the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) team for their continued efforts and to the Bahamas Hope Foundation, Odyssey Aviation and STARS for their continued support of our Northern Islands.”

The Alcatel 1T 10-inch tablets will be given to students in Abaco and the Cays and Grand Bahama. Representatives from the Ministry of Education and the DRA are coordinating the distribution.

Following evacuations after Hurricane Dorian, less than 300 students remained in Abaco and the Cays. However, Dominique Russell, District Superintendent of Education for Abaco was excited to announce that students are returning home.

“Today we have more than 1,400 students registered in the public-school system and 200 in the private school system. We are ecstatic about that,” Mrs. Russell said.

“We want students to come home and we know that for them to return home they need access to educational opportunities. Although school repairs continue, we are excited that so many organizations, companies, and foundations have helped us in the donation of devices that will allow our children to access the virtual learning platform. We are thankful.”

“Abaco is certainly coming back strong, more resilient and better prepared for education,” Mrs. Russell concluded. Distribution began in Abaco at the following schools: Amy Roberts Primary (15), Central Abaco Primary (200), Cherokee Sound Primary (17), Coopers Town Primary (80), Fox Town Primary (35), Hope Town Primary (27), James A. Pinder Primary (20), Man-o-War Primary (15), Moore’s Island All-Age (34), Patrick J. Bethel High (200) and Sherlin C. Bootle High (100). Tablets will be distributed to students in Grand Bahama during the week of October 12th.

Students in grades one through twelve in Abaco received backpacks, headphones, solar chargers, and other items donated by several additional donors.

Education is an essential part of rebuilding and a major priority for the Government. The other six priorities around the work of the Authority includes: Environment, Economy, Health, Housing, Infrastructure, and System Improvements.

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