The 2008 Education Act defines distance education as “an educational process in which a significant proportion of the teaching is conducted through one medium or a combination of media by persons removed in space or time from the learners.“
The 2013 ICT in Education Policy uses the term “Information and Communication Technology (ICT).”
Constitution and laws: The 2008 Education Act establishes specific goals and objectives that the Minister must establish and pursue, to encourage the development of fundamental knowledge and skills in all individuals, including an appreciation of the role of science and technology in society and scientific and technological skills.
The 2021 Telecommunication Bill aims to provide a legislative framework for the regulation of the telecommunications sector in Antigua and Barbuda and incidental and related matters including promoting universal access to telecommunications services for all persons in Antigua and Barbuda.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2013 ICT in Education Policy, which replaced the 2003 ICT in Education Policy, established key strategic priorities to guide the effective integration of ICT into education, such as infrastructure, curricula, and teacher training. In addition, the document states that "the Government of Antigua and Barbuda is committed to integrating ICT into its education system in ways that directly advance these key strategic priorities."
The National Youth Policy aims to facilitate the creation and maintenance of an environment necessary for young people to realize their full potential. The policy recognizes the significance of youth access to and knowledge of information technology.
The Medium-Term Strategic Development Plan of Antigua y Barbuda (2016-2020) aims to enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology.
The OECS Education Sector Strategy (2012-2026) outlines a vision for a curriculum that engages school leadership, teacher skills, knowledge and understanding, curriculum leadership, professional learning, data collection and use, sharing and transferring knowledge and good practice, and the application of resources and ICT cyclically and iteratively.
Digital competency frameworks: no information was found on a formal digital competence framework in Antigua and Barbuda for students of teachers.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The Government of Antigua and Barbuda through the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) guidelines and protocols such as the Guidelines Advice on the Management of Sick Child and Staff at School in the Context of COVID-19 and the MoEST protocols for reopening schools in different phases. Since 2020, new education policies have been enacted such as the 2020 Safe School Policy, which focuses on schools at all levels in the twin-island republic of Antigua and Barbuda and proposes ways to make them more resilient and sustainable.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
The 2021 Telecommunication Bill aims to create a Universal Service Fund. The services may include a high-quality public telephone service with a free telephone directory for subscribers, operator-assisted information services, broadband internet service, free emergency telecommunications service, and the provision of services to allow a user with a disability to make and receive calls.
Electricity: The 2020 Safe School Policy seeks to promote energy efficiency and conservation measures in schools to make the latter more sustainable.
Computers and devices: The 2013 ICT in Education Policy aims to provide the necessary infrastructure to support school learning and improve basic infrastructure at the classroom level, including cable connections for wireless networks, electrical outlets, physical security facilities where necessary, and flexible furnishing arrangements to facilitate the use of ICT in a wide range of educationally innovative and diverse ways.
According to the 2021 Voluntary National Review of Antigua & Barbuda, the Ministry of Education has implemented several programs to ensure that every student has access to e-textbooks and expand the classroom resources for teachers and students, and mentions the initiative Provision of Technology Devices for Pupils and Teachers and Internet Access in Schools, which seeks to give low-income students with technological devices. This program also benefits teachers by facilitating the implementation of the curriculum in a digital format.
Internet connectivity: The 2013 ICT in Education Policy intends to expand connectivity and internet access across the education system.
According to the 2021 Voluntary National Review of Antigua & Barbuda, the initiative Provision of Technology Devices for Pupils and Teachers and Internet Access in Schools aims to increase the provision of internet access in schools.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The 2008 Education Act establishes that the Minister may include distance education modalities as part of public education.
The 2013 ICT in Education Policy, aims to provide the required infrastructure, such as a repository for open educational resources (OER). The Ministry will seek to leverage technology and self-paced learning to help at-risk students keep up with the curriculum and implement more adaptable support systems during the school day. In addition, the Ministry of Education, Sports, Youth, and Gender Affairs will develop a repository of openly licensed resources to ensure that all students in the country have free and open access to openly licensed resources of multiple media that enable them to successfully meet the requirements of the regional and national curriculum frameworks governing education in Antigua and Barbuda.
According to the Ministry of Education's 2020 Safe School Policy,, in order to combat overcrowding, schools can implement the use of technology to facilitate these changes and enhance learning wherever possible.
To mitigate the spread and effects of COVID-19, educational institutions moved to remote education. The document Transition to Education in Time of an Emergency: COVID-19 Guidance & Protocol for All Education and Education-related Institutions in Antigua & Barbuda (2020) included guidelines to continue with remote learning after school closure. In response to COVID and remote learning, an online system was encouraged and alternative measures were implemented, such as creating a buddy system in which a parent (student) with internet and other capabilities is paired with a student who is unable to access that learning platform; creating an environment for sharing (e.g. telephone) for building community learning; and beginning the development of worksheets that could be distributed to students.
The development of students' digital skills is supported at the policy level. The 2013 ICT in Education Policy aims to ensure the optimal use of currently available ICT resources within the education system. The Ministry of Education requires all schools to develop an annual ICT Integration Plan in order to promote greater local ownership and accountability. This will include Curriculum policies describing how the institution intends to use ICT to support instruction across grades (or programs) and learning areas/subjects.
According to the 2013 ICT in Education Policy, the national curriculum will be continuously reviewed and revised at all grade levels, with a significant emphasis on changing assessment methodologies to measure a broader variety of competencies as opposed to simple subject memory. In this process, the focus will be given to the ways in which ICT, when used effectively, can facilitate various types of instruction, support, and evaluation. In addition, it is stated that ICT would be utilized, especially at the secondary level, to facilitate more effective use of face-to-face interaction in schools.
The National Youth Policy aims to advocate for greater representation of girls in science and technology.
The 2013 ICT in Education Policy mentions Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as a key pillar of the national development plans in Antigua and Barbuda.
The 2013 ICT in Education Policy proposes professional development strategies to ensure the optimal use of ICT resources in the education system.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2013 Data Protection Act aims to promote the protection of personal data processed by public and private bodies and for incidental and connected purposes.
The 2013 Electronic Transactions Act provides legal effect to electronic documents, records and signatures and for incidental and connected purposes.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The 2013 Electronic Crime Act as amended in 2018, sets the punishment for violation of privacy in general. The law states, “a person commits an offence if that person intentionally and without lawful excuse or justification captures, publishes or transmits the image of the private area of another person without his or her consent, or captures, publishes or transmits the image, whether whole or partial, of another person in a vulnerable position under the circumstances violating the privacy of that person. “
According to the Safe School Policy (2020), the Ministry of Education recognizes the grave nature of bullying and its detrimental effects on students and teachers. In preventing and combating bullying behavior, the Ministry of Education shall, among other things: Promote a school-wide approach to address bullying behavior; Explicitly address the issue of cyberbullying and identity-based bullying; Implement education and prevention strategies (including awareness-raising measures) that build empathy, respect, and resiliency in students; and so on. The policy includes cyberbullying in the definition of bullying.
According to the 2013 ICT in Education Policy, in operationalizing this policy, it is essential to facilitate collaboration between government Ministries, most notably between the Ministry of Education, Sports, Youth, and Gender Affairs and the Ministry of Telecommunications, Science and Technology, but also involving other government ministries as appropriate.
The school cellphone policy in effect since 2007 establishes that students are allowed to have cell phones at school once they are turned off and kept out of sight. Fines are set for those who contravene the ban.