Sat | Oct 31, 2020

From kinder to college, fully online school launches in Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | September 23, 2020 | 12:15 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter

Most schools that will be offering online classes come October 5 already existed prior to the pandemic, but this is not the case for El Shaddai Home Schools, which is strictly virtual and intends to cater to students locally and internationally.

Principal of the virtual school, Pedro Hall, said the school will be accepting students from the kindergarten to the secondary school level. El Shaddai Home Schools consists of kinder, prep, high, special education, evening and weekend and college (post-secondary).

The institution was launched in mid-September and has already started accepting students.

“A lot of schools are offering online classes and they have their regular school building with their offices and all of their documents and their files, everything is physical. For this school, everything will be online.

“So we don’t have a school building; we have one little office because the ministry asked us to have an office to store files,” said Hall, an educator with more than 25 years’ experience.

The school’s office is in Spanish Town, St Catherine, where Hall serves as a justice of the peace. He is attached to the Eltham High and is chairman of ABC Early Childhood Development Centre, Seventh-day Baptist Early Childhood Development Centre, and Smith’s Better Learning Preparatory School.

“El Shaddai Home Schools offers students the benefit of studying from the comfort of their homes or from anywhere in the world where Internet access is available,” he said.

“Parents can travel within and outside of Jamaica with their children without the fear of their children missing out on their education. Teachers, on the other hand, can teach from anywhere in the world once there is an Internet connection,” said the educator.

Already, 45 teachers have applied to start teaching at the institution, but the priority is recruiting students at this point as the new academic year is set to start on October 5.

Chairman Eliud George Ramocan, a director at the Bank of Jamaica, believes that some students work better in an online environment.

“Online schooling is not the next big thing, it’s the now big thing! Now is the time to empower your child to reach their highest potential with full-time and flexible online learning solutions,” he urged parents.

Everything will be done online, including registration of students, orientation, classes, report day, career day, counselling sessions, parent-teacher association meetings, and sessions with principals and teachers.

At a cost of $25,000 per term for tuition for kindergarten and $32,000 per term for prep-school students, Hall believes the fees are cheaper when compared to other private schools. While the classes will be virtual, he said class sizes will still be small.

“Think of a normal physical school, and then conceptualise it in its virtual state. The differences between our physical school building and El Shaddai Home Schools are that the latter has no restrooms, tuck shop, canteen, or traffic,” he said.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com