On 18-19 November, 2008, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat will again, after ten years, bring together Ministers of Education and their technical advisors for a comprehensive evaluation of the last ten years of the Community’s work in education.
This Seventeenth Meeting of the CARICOM Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) with special focus on education has been described as “a meeting for frank discussion on how we can do things better in education within the Region.”
The first COHSOD on education was held in 1998 under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and, according to Dr Edward Greene, CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General for Human and Social Development, this COHSOD would be one with a difference.
“The difference is that we would not only be looking at the achievements over the last ten years but also looking at those things that did not get implemented for one reason or the other; and in so doing examine how we can expedite the rate of implementation…by understanding some of the reasons why some things did not get done in the first place,” explained Dr Greene.
Dr Greene, who was briefing the Public Information Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat, further explained that since the first COHSOD on education in 1998, a number of policies and programmes in education had evolved and it was now time to assess their impact on the Community.
He added that every effort would be made to ensure that all Ministers of Education attend the meeting. He noted that with the change of Governments over the past ten years, there were seven new Ministers of Education who should view this as an opportune time to be engaged in action-planning for the future of education in the Region.
“There is a general perception that the Secretariat does not do things quickly,” Dr Greene noted, “but sometimes the reasons are rooted at the country level, hence the necessity to engage the Ministers at the country level in meetings such as the COHSOD,” he continued.
Besides the comprehensive evaluation to be undertaken, the COHSOD will engage Education Ministers in critically examining the implications of various components of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) for education as well as ways in which the education sector could tap into the opportunities it holds for the Region.
Scheduled to be held here, the 17th COHSOD, Dr Greene stated, would also identify and discuss the elements in education that could help to promote the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, (CSME).
He cited the establishment of the Caribbean Vocation Qualification (CVQ) which was launched in 2007 as one of the standards which would help to facilitate the movement of skilled persons other than University graduates within the Region.
Teacher education and training will also be one of the agenda items Dr Greene anticipates will generate much discussion. The COHSOD is expected to examine the treatment of teacher education and training, especially in this age of New Information technologies: “We developed and promoted a science and technology policy in 1998 and we now need to assess how we have advanced on that and to address its relevance of those recommendations from 1998 to what we have to do in 2008,” the Assistant Secretary-General explained.
In addition, Dr Greene noted that “the new dimension of teacher education means coming to grips with the sociology of the environment and exploring distance education to reach the perceived ‘un-reachable.” As a result, the 17th COHSOD will also review the work of the Caribbean Knowledge Learning Network (CKLN) which was established in 2004 to foster the upgrading of tertiary institutions across the Region in an effort to increase their ability to use modern approaches to learning; and make recommendations on how this tool could be further maximized in facilitating greater collaboration between tertiary institutions in reaching a wider cross-section of the Community’s students.
Also at the COHSOD, the New Vision for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) as proposed by the new Director Dr Didacus Jules will also be presented. According to Dr Greene, “we are hoping that this new vision will engender vigorous discussion among Ministers and provide useful insights on where the Council goes from here as a credible institution making a greater contribution to learning and education in the Region.”
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