Closer cooperation between Erdiston Teachers??? Training College (ETTC) and training institutions in St. Maarten will be key to having proposed bilateral cooperation in education, as Government seeks to enhance the teaching capability on the island.

This issue was among the initiatives discussed recently as Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones received a courtesy call from Governor of St. Maarten, Eugene Holiday to explore possibilities for strengthening areas of cooperation.

Minister Jones, in outlining the importance of education to national development, noted that the College played a significant role in delivering training programmes. He said plans were on stream to improve that institution, since each year 300 to 400 persons applied to the Ministry for teaching positions.

???You have to continually adjust the programmes and the process. Nothing is static. It is a dynamic programme,??? he noted, explaining that the College delivered programmes in Early Childhood Education and Students-At-Risk; while it offered the Associate Degree in Education and Physical Education for the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Explaining the ease by which persons were facilitated in the system and could become teachers with CXC certificates, Associate and Bachelor degrees, Mr. Jones said: ???We will be transitioning the College to a Bachelor of Education in the next two years, so no person would be coming into the system without [having achieved] the Bachelor of Education.???

Mr. Holiday, on his first official visit to the island, expressed pleasure at having experienced Barbadian hospitality and acknowledged the similarities and differences that existed between the two countries. He said education at the secondary level in St. Maarten was paid for in part by parents and that prospective teachers did not receive paid leave while at the University in St. Maarten, but had to be trained before entering the teaching service.

???One of the challenges in St. Maarten is you have locals who would go into teaching but after three, four or five years the pastures are very green outside of teaching and all of that investment you lose that because they go into the private sector or Government. So, that???s quite a challenge to keep the level of education up to par because you have that constant struggle to keep your teachers up to speed,??? he said.

Mr. Holiday stressed that at present his country was finding it difficult to get locals interested in the profession as most persons were attracted to economics, law and medicine.

The Governor heard that this was not a problem in Barbados as teachers experienced favourable conditions of service; received paid leave while being trained at the ETTC, and the remuneration and benefits in the public service compared favourably with those in the private sector.

It was also noted that persons were always willing to teach and that cooperation in education could perhaps include teacher exchanges and the provision of Barbadian teachers to assist St. Maarten.

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