Hon Penn made the call on the Monday, February 22, 2021, edition of the NDP radio show simulcasted on several radio stations, including ZBVI 780 AM, CBN 90.9 FM, ZCCR 94.1 FM and Tola Radio 100.5 FM.
“I think we have to get our children back in school. I believe the hybrid system worked, it worked well in the early stages when we had the issues with COVID. COVID-19 still exists but I think we need to start to get back to a sense of normalcy,” Hon Penn said.
The blended learning approach is one where Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) said blends online learning with the traditional classroom hours.
Speaking on the December 31, 2020, Fifth Sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth House of Assembly, Dr Wheatley said the blended learning approach would have some contact hours for core subjects like Mathematics and English, in addition to technical subjects.
However, according to the Opposition Leader, the hybrid learning approach is not working for some students and especially not ideal for parents without access to the internet and data.
“A lot of our parents can't afford to pay for the data to get their kids on homeschooling, there's a lot of challenges with that system,” he said.
“Where we are currently with kids who are supposed to be in school and distance learning? They are on the streets. At the end of the day, there are a lot of parents who have to go and try to find a way to make ends meet,” he said.
Hon Penn urged the Fahie administration to look at ways to get the classrooms opened to full capacity so that students and youths can return under a comprehensive educational plan.
“I know the minister is trying his best, but the reality is that we now at a stage where we need to start the transition... A lot of young people have fallen between the cracks because of all the variables impacting the homeschooling process," he said.