Nfld. & Labrador

Buchans high school students worry that slow Internet will impact credits

High school students in Buchans say they can't do some of their distance education courses because the internet is simply too slow.
Students at Lakeside Academy in Buchans say the information highway to their school has slowed to a small pathway. (Shutterstock)

High school students in a central Newfoundland town say they can't do some of their distance education courses because the Internet is simply too slow.

Hailey Keats is a Level II student at Lakeside Academy in Buchans. She's worried about getting her credits.

"It just boggles my mind how people can be so mean, I guess, to not let students get their proper education," said Keats. "Not to be able to have their own right to education like every other student in the province."

Most high school students in this province are able to sit in a classroom and be taught — but in many smaller rural schools, courses are facilitated by the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI).  

It involves having a teacher instruct students who are spread across the province, but joined by an Internet connection. When that Internet connection is slower than it needs to be, it can spell big problems for the students. 

Keats and another Level II student, Hannah Stacey, spoke Friday with CBC Radio's Central Morning Show.

They said the connection is now so poor, they often can't log-on for courses such as physics or French. 

"I need physics. I want to be a civil engineer," said Stacey. "And I need French too, because it's always good to have a second language."
Lakeside Academy is a Kindergarten to Grade 12 school in Buchans. (Newfoundland and Labrador English School District website)

Keats said Lakeside Academy is a small school, so distance learning courses are essential to a student's academic success.

"We only have 78 students, I believe, in our school, and that's from Kindergarten to Grade 12, and they obviously can't put in a whole lot of teachers there — so we have no other way to have it taught to us," said Keats.

Petition gathers 500 signatures

Keats said last year, a petition was circulated to complain about slow internet service by the town's only service provider, Bell Aliant. 

"And everybody who wanted faster Internet could sign their name, and we had about 500 people — and this is only a town with roughly 800 people," said Keats.

"And they (Bell) said there was still not enough people who wanted it here." 

Stacey and Keats said since the beginning of the school year, their principal, vice-principal and teachers have been accommodating in helping them out in any way they can. 

"When we first started out, we couldn't download the actual software onto our computer, because the Internet connection was so slow," said Keats.

"And one teacher, he went home that night and downloaded it and put in on a jump drive for us to put it on to our computer. We just want to have regular classes, and to be able to pay attention and learn." 

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