IDB Representative to Barbados, Joel Branski (right) and Consular to the IDB in Washington, Cheryl Morris-Skeete, examining the work of Kashauna Lewis and Nathan Bovell. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

Barbados’ high level of literacy and immersion in information communication technology came in for praise today as Executive Directors of the Board of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), toured the West Terrace Primary School located in St. James.

Speaking on behalf of the delegates, Representative for IDB in Barbados, Joel Branski, said it was "very important" that the Executives knew "the good job" that the country was doing and "see, in the field, the results of the loans of the IDB".

He added: "I’m sure they will leave Barbados understanding how the education system here is working and how our loans to the Government of Barbados are getting the results. We have seen the result of the information technology (IT) here; seen all the IT systems working; the children using the IT system [and] being prepared for the future.

"We’ve seen a very motivated group of teachers; members of the staff; the Ministry of Education and we are really pleased… We think that this is the kind of result that we look for when our Board of Executive Directors approves a loan."

While acknowledging that he had only been here for a year, Mr. Branski said, "For me…what’s the most important [thing to see] is how Barbadians are proud of their free universal education system reaching all the children of the country. We know that Barbados has one of the highest levels of literacy in the region as compared to any other country and a very well-prepared labour force, so I think this is the result ultimately and I am pleased."??

Meanwhile, Programme Director of the Programme Coordination Unit in the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, Paul Murphy, in providing delegates with an overview of the undertaking at West Terrace Primary School, commended the IDB and noted that ESEP was a project which would have been responsible for a comprehensive reform of the education system.

He explained that it had addressed four components namely civil works; the integration of technology; human resource development and training and the reform of the entire curriculum on the island. Speaking specifically about West Terrace Primary School, Mr. Murphy said that the Ministry would have worked on that institution in the third phase of ESEP, in 2003, and that it assisted in improving the performance of both students and teachers.

"We spent just over BDS $2 Million upgrading this school and that’s only the civil works component. We spent additional funds and provided technology to the school so that the teachers would have an opportunity to integrate technology in their day-to-day operation in their classroom and children would have the opportunity to be exposed to the latest technology," he recounted.

It was noted too that West Terrace Primary School was also provided with updated technology as well as a maintenance programme to go with it. ??The IDB delegation also heard that heavy emphasis was placed on teacher training in the use of technology and improving methodology to deliver lessons to students.

Mr. Murphy said: "In addition to that, we felt that we had reached the point in 1998, when we first started the programme, that we should revisit what we were doing with respect to our curriculum; and we did a comprehensive review of our curriculum and West Terrace [Primary School] would have been one of the beneficiaries of the curriculum that we would have introduced into the system way back in 1998 to around 2000."

ESEP, more familiarly called EDUTECH, was a major project undertaken by Government, through the Ministry of Education. Valued at over BDS $400 million, it was co-funded by the IDB, Caribbean Development Bank and the Government of Barbados.

It placed emphasis on all primary and secondary schools and ensured that special needs education was given a boost with the introduction of assistive technology to improve delivery of education to students with special needs within our community.??

The programme, which was completed last year, will be followed by ESEP Part II and Skills For The Future Programme which are being funded by the CDB and the IDB respectively.


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