Devoted to growth
Parliamentary Secretary, Senator Harry Husbands, underscored this point today as he addressed the start of a workshop for information technology coordinators, education officers and personnel from the Media Resource Department.
Noting that the jointly-hosted initiative with Illuminat and IBM Education Solutions of Canada reaffirmed this, he said: “The view is that every employee can make a meaningful contribution to the efficient and effective running of the institution. In order for them to do so, however, they must possess the skills and competencies needed to provide the services that are required.”
Participants and facilitators were told that from as far back as 1998, the ministry had engaged in the systematic development of its human resources through the Education Sector Enhancement Programme, financed by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank.
Husbands explained that ESEP represented a $426 million investment in the education system and called for teachers to be exposed to technology-focused training which enabled them to integrate technology into the classroom.
“Indeed, for the first time in Barbados, every teacher was given the opportunity to acquire pedagogical IT skills that would equip them with the knowledge to effectively deliver creatively planned, technology-integrated lessons,” he said.
However, it was noted that despite the massive investment in the provision of technology, the upgrade of facilities and the training of many of our teachers, recent analyses still reflect gaps in the quality of the learning environment, less than optimal distribution of education resources and deficiencies in school leadership and teacher effectiveness.
“It is for these reasons that the Government of Barbados continues to place significant emphasis on the development of human and social capital particularly through investments in education as it strives towards the long-term vision of becoming a fully developed and people centred society,” Husbands maintained.
The workshop heard too that the IDB and CDB had embarked on further interventions to enhance the quality and effectiveness of the education sector. He said both the GOB/CDB Education Sector Enhancement Programme II and the GOB/IDB Skills For the Future Programme would involve professional development of teachers and the provision of technology.
Describing the training as timely, the Parliamentary Secretary praised Illuminat and IBM and said it showed there were people and institutions out there with a vested interest in the development of quality education on the island.
He added: “Technological advancements in teaching enhance a country’s ability to be more competitive so that it may compete in the global market place. If every single organisation in this country paid critical attention to the issue of education and its relationship to productivity, Barbados would enhance its competitiveness considerably. One important route to this goal is for Barbados to continue the development of its human capital.
Meanwhile, General Manager of IBM Education Solutions Canada and lead facilitator for the training, Michael East, explained that the team’s focus was not on hardware but on “student achievement and building teacher capacity”. He said the team was interested in sharing information on leadership related to pedagogy, assessment and instructional practices among other things.
“[It is about] what educators are focusing on to really deliver the results that we all hope for. And focusing on the enablers — building teacher capacity — how do we help that educator and staff [in the ministry] become more comfortable with the new strategies, and new practices and to what degree and when and where can technology be an enabler?” East queried, adding that it was the team’s view that building teaching capacity made “75 per cent of the difference”.