Wheelock College is not an institution that believes in short-term relationships with countries, and as such Barbados can expect a long affiliation with the Boston establishment that recently facilitated training for 25 Barbadian teachers, in Early Childhood Education.

This was stated by the President of Wheelock College, Jackie Jenkins-Scott, during a recent courtesy call on Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, at his office at the Elsie Payne Complex.

The meeting was also attended by Parliamentary Secretary, Harry Husbands; Permanent Secretary, Cecile Humphrey; Chief Education Officer, Laurie King; Deputy Chief Education Officer, Karen Best; Director of the Higher Education Development Unit, Dr. Patrick Rowe and other representatives of the Ministry and Wheelock College.

Acknowledging that her College had been bringing students here for over three years to train in primary schools, Mrs. Jenkins-Scott said Wheelock was on a path to deepen relations with Barbados. ???We like to go deep in a country with our relationship and we see and hope that the kind of relationships that we have been able to develop in West Africa, where we have now been 10 years, the kind of relationship we were able to develop in Bermuda, where we have been there for over a decade and our time [over 25 years] in Singapore, is a model for us???.

???We aren???t trying to be all over the world. We are trying to have very deep relationships in a few places that are mutually respectful and beneficial on each side,??? she said, adding that it, was a ???special??? aspect seen in the teachers who participated in both on the introductory leg of the programme in Boston, last July, and throughout training here on the island.???

Lauding the Education Ministry, Mrs. Jenkins-Scott pointed out that 10 out of the 25 teachers had achieved a perfect 4.0 grade point average and said: ???We don???t just stop in for a year and then go some-place else. Our belief is that over long periods of time, we get to impact each other. Our faculty learns so much by having longer term relationships, not just these short in and out kind of relationships; and we believe that that allows us to really look back and see how we have had an impact in a country.

???So, that???s the model that we hope to have here. We were thrilled with this first cohort of the certificate programme and hope that we have the opportunity and the privilege to replicate that; [and] make it better. There are always ways to improve???. And, together we can make it an even stronger programme and we hope that we can look at other ways to deepen our relationship. So we are looking forward and [are] very optimistic.???

Minister Jones, in accepting the commendations on behalf of teachers, stressed Government???s commitment to the development of education in a holistic way. He pointed out that emphasis was being placed on early childhood education, partly to satisfy the Education For All goal of expansion of early childhood education and admitted that though the country would not meet the United Nations 2015 timetable, it was close to achieving this within two years.

???We, obviously, have to continue working to provide more specialists in the area of early childhood theory and development,??? he told Wheelock???s President, while welcoming further discussion on the building of capacity at this level.

The Minister, a former teacher, stressed: ???We need the personnel in our system. We know that foundational work is extremely important as we move up the system towards other stages in the delivery of education in Barbados; the earlier we get them, the better, particularly, where social realities can sometimes disadvantage a segment of the population and if through state interventions we are able to meet some of those needs of that vulnerable section of the population, the country would be better off for that.???

Mr. Jones praised the collaborative arrangement on the part of Wheelock College, Erdiston Teachers??? Training College, the Barbados Community College, the Higher Education Development Unit (HEDU) and The Maria Holder Memorial Trust, for predominantly sponsoring the 25 teachers.

???We will continue as a Ministry to work with Wheelock. There are other programmes at Wheelock that will satisfy us??? There is also room for other capacity building at Wheelock in the area of diagnosis of speech and hearing challenges,??? Mr. Jones assured.

Further ideas on collaboration in teacher training were considered including encouraging the first cohort to continue on to a Masters level; having young Erdiston-trained teachers undertake first and second degrees at Wheelock or a certificate programme in Autism and securing scholarships for Wheelock students to study in Barbados.

Wheelock representatives, while welcoming these initiatives, noted that Boston was arguably the bedrock of education in the United States; it boasted a large Barbadian diaspora and exchange programmes would prove beneficial for the island???s teachers, particularly those who would gain opportunities to train in Boston schools.

The participants were drawn from primary schools across the island with the expectation that upon successful completion, Barbados would be able to build on a foundation in universal school competency in early childhood management and maximise the benefits from useful professional collaboration among the team.

Wheelock College is located in the Fenway, adjacent to the home of the world famous Boston Red Sox. Globally, it is renowned for aiding students who want to change their world and improve the lives of children and families through their careers as leaders, advocates, and professionals.


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