Erdiston Teachers’ Training College is already positioning itself to equip teachers with the skills and knowledge needed to deliver the new curriculum being proposed for Barbados’ education system.
Speaking with The Nation a day after the Ministry of Education launched the education reform proposals at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, principal of the St Michael institution, Dr Colin Cumberbatch, said a suite of professional development seminars and workshops were among the programmes they would be offering to “hopefully [ ] meet the needs of the system”.
During the event, it was stated there were plans for enhanced teacher training to accommodate the new curriculum. However, the principal said they too were hearing what was expected of them, but they had yet to be told anything definitive.
“Mindful that we are a small institution we may not have the capacity to develop everything to meet the needs of the system so we’re looking to partner with other institutions outside of Barbados. We currently have something going with NTI through the Ministry of Education with Coursera and we’re looking to have a partnership with Teachers College, Columbia University.
“We’re getting a new memorandum of understanding put together for the George Brown College and we’re looking at shoring up what we offer to make sure we can meet the needs of education reform,” said Cumberbatch.
And the College’s administration is already overhauling one of its major programmes.
“We are making significant changes to the Diploma in Education (Primary) to make sure that it can adequately meet the needs of teachers at the primary level to ensure that they are fit for purpose,” said the principal.
He further told The Nation that once officials could get the proposals going, he “anticipates it will better meet the needs of the nation’s children”. He said the focus was on two sets of children who struggle within the existing system – those with special educational needs and those who are exceptional – and in the initial stages, the programmes would be adaptable.
“What I like about the reforms is that they’re trying to put out programming that will meet the needs of the economy, the needs of the work force. We’re looking to design programmes that are customised for developing skills and abilities of children in their areas of interest.
“It is a fantastic initiative, however, is it going to be a smooth introduction or smooth transition? I can’t see how it will be. The onus is on people to accept that there will be what I call teething issues and try to work through them rather than using them as a reason to throw their hand in the air and say, ‘you know this was going to happen and it can’t work’.
But as much as Erdiston College wants to do its part in the reformation, realistically it is still hampered by a lack of space. Cumberbatch reiterated the need for infrastructural expansion as they are “struggling for space” and suggested there could be “an adjustment in our programme”.
“Right now, most of our programmes are offered in the evening after school. We too at the College will have to undergo significant training to make sure that we can meet the needs of education reform. Only this morning we had a meeting and we’re now looking at what our specific needs will be because of the lack of space, we’re looking at developing self-paced seminars and workshops but we have to be trained in how to get that done, how to develop it, and then, we have to look at all other matters associated with the delivering a self-paced workshop or seminar,” the principal said.
Self-paced programmes will allow teachers to pursue them in their own time thereby eliminating their need to be present at the St Michael campus. (GBM)