All systems are ‘go’ for the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training’s roll out of the OpenEMIS (Education Management Information System).
The Ministry has received support from the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) following a meeting on Wednesday with Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw, and union officials.
Ms. Bradshaw addressed concerns relating to the training of teachers on how to use the system which officially came into effect at the start of the new school term.
It will allow for the electronic registration of students. Previously, teachers recorded students’ attendance manually in a physical register.
The Education Minister also said the Ministry would be looking at strengthening Wi-Fi connectivity at schools, which is needed for a smoother rollout.
Additionally, she pointed out that the OpenEMIS was already in use in schools long before this term’s implementation of the electronic registration.
“The good news for the public of Barbados is that the unions, in particular, the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, has embraced the revolution in our system of technology in education. They are fully supportive of this ministry in ensuring that systems in education related to technology are properly rolled out … to ensure that both our teachers and students who are operating in the system are able to get the benefits of the available technology.
“We sought in December (2019) to ensure that all aspects of the system were fully utilized. This is a programme that cost the Government of Barbados tremendous sums of money. It is over $200,000 in investment. The full operationalization of this programme, I believe on coming to office, needed to take place in order for us to get the best spend from this technology,” Minister Bradshaw explained.
Following the meeting, Ms. Bradshaw announced that training for the electronic registration would continue throughout this term and it would be fully implemented in Term 3.
She said that electronic devices donated by the People’s Republic of China over the years would be utilized by teachers to facilitate the new form of registering students.
In the meantime, teachers will carry out dual registration of students, that is, using both the physical and electronic registers for another five to six weeks until any kinks are resolved. Afterwards, only the electronic register will be used.
“I want to let the public know that having met with the BSTU we are in a position to have all systems go with the OpenEMIS system in schools. We are working together to ensure that we continue the training that has already been started. We accept that training will always be an ongoing process. While we have not had opportunity as yet to meet with the Barbados Union of Teachers, the intention is to meet with them…. I suspect that the concerns will be same…,” Minister Bradshaw said.
The OpenEMIS will also allow the Ministry of Education to gather crucial information on the assessments done by students throughout their school lives, specifically on exams taken from primary to secondary school.
“It gives us a snapshot as to what is happening in the educational system at any point in time,” Ms. Bradshaw stated.
The Minister said she was looking forward to rolling out other reforms to the education system and pointed out that reforms were also coming to the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination.
President of the BSTU, Mary Redman, said after the meeting that the union was “generally pleased” with the outcome, and thanked the Ministry for “entertaining us at this level”.
Ms. Bradshaw said she looked forward to the cooperation of teaching staff to “fully operationalize” the OpenEMIS system, adding that with any rollout there would be some “teething issues”.