One hundred Barbadian teachers selected from nursery, primary and secondary schools are undergoing training to enhance their skills in the use of technology in the classroom.
The virtual workshop titled: Teacher Training on Digital Education and Distance Learning Pedagogies in the Caribbean, got under way this morning via the Zoom platform.
Facilitated by the Tampere University of Applied Sciences in Finland, and funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the programme is also catering to a select group of teachers in Trinidad and Tobago.
The objective of the programme is to support the Ministries of Education in Barbados and Trinidad in the area of digital education and distance learning methods and practices.
Speaking at the workshop’s launch, Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training (METVT), Santia Bradshaw, underscored the importance of the workshop, in light of the unforeseen circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last 18 months.
She highlighted Government’s efforts to transition to online learning, which included the sourcing and distribution of devices to students and teachers; the training of teachers in the use of Google Suite and other key tools; and the use of radio and television to deliver educational content.
However, Minister Bradshaw stated that the transition was difficult, and noted this was flagged as a priority area by the oversight and monitoring committee established to provide support to teachers and assist with the monitoring of online classes.
“It was clear from the feedback of the Ministry’s monitoring committee that we had to urgently build capacity in digital pedagogy in order to equip teachers to better plan and to develop instruction in a digital environment. After all, what they were being asked to do was not to perform online teaching, but rather given the circumstances, they had to perform emergency response instruction, and later blended learning,” she pointed out.
And, it was against this background, according to the Education Minister, that the METVT took advantage of this training opportunity. She also pointed out that 120 teachers across the primary and secondary school system had been beneficiaries of basic training under this initiative.
Ms. Bradshaw also expressed her gratitude to Finland, which is known for its high quality education and training, as well as to the IDB. In addition, she stated that aside from acquiring knowledge and skills, she was optimistic that the Barbadian teachers participating in the workshop would forge alliances with their regional counterparts in education.
“You are part of the critical frontline making a difference in these trying times and we will do whatever is necessary to facilitate and support you,” Minister Bradshaw stated, as she reiterated Government’s commitment to education reform and the provision of quality education at all levels.
Meanwhile Division Chief, Education Division at the IDB, Mercedes Mateo-Berganza, described the training as “timely”, adding that she was hopeful that it would “foster and strengthen regional collaboration in education”.
Mrs. Mateo-Berganza also disclosed that the IDB had partnered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to develop a framework for teacher training in distance and blended learning.