From left: President and CEO, Commonwealth of Learning, Sir John Daniels; Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones; and Assistant Director-General: Communication and Information, UNESCO, Janis Karklins, listen attentively to a speaker at the forum. The forum was co-organised by the partnership including Commonwealth of Learning, Commonwealth Secretariat, Microsoft and UNESCO. (A. Miller/BGIS)

The use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in classrooms across the region has been lauded by Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones.

Addressing the Commonwealth of Learning ICT Education Leadership Forum, to at the Accra Beach Hotel today, Minister Jones acknowledged that the continued use of ICTs in every single country in the region had the potential to "bring us a little closer to enhancing learning within our school environment, among our students" [and] "to making it possible for our countries truly to be referred to as seriously emerging economies with the kinds of skills necessary for the 21st Century…

While recognising that the region had encountered challenges in its attempt to integrate ICTs within its education systems, he said, "… It has taken a while for many of the Caribbean countries to bring on board ICTs to assist education; to use it at the level of our classroom; in order to motivate our students; and to give them another avenue of learning." However, he surmised that it was not because of lack of prioritising, but in many instances because of a lack of resources.

Praising the programme here in Barbados that dates back as far as 1997/1999, he stressed that "we were able to do that not on the back of the country’s national resources but on the access of borrowed resources". Maintaining that this had to be stated, Mr. Jones said: "I do not believe that any country within the Caribbean has the available resources to carry forward this agenda single-handedly."

The Minister explained to delegates that despite this, education was "the base, the foundation on which we have sought to build Caribbean economies without the large expanse of natural resources". He explained: "…One thing that has stood tall is our emphasis on education, transforming that human capital to make our societies vibrant and alive. With scarce resources, we have done a lot in this region and we intend to do a lot with the resources which we are able to gather."

It was also pointed out that the region was at "a critical juncture", in the midst of the worst economic recession and the Education Minister told the forum that "as we look outwards, we also have to look inward and share best practices [and] utilise common resources across the region."

He said:?? "Where we have been successful in Barbados in our ICT emphasis we have to share that with other countries which are now beginning the journey because we would have done studies, analyses, we would have looked at areas of success and areas where we fell down.

"[We would have] looked at the challenges which came up every single day as teachers tried to use the technology in the classroom, looked at the rigidities which we found within some teachers who seemed unable or incapable of changing, to interact and to interface with the technology, to make learning meaningful and sensible to the technology gifted children of our countries."


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