Nov 23, 2008 News
– Caricom Director
Caricom Director of Human Development, Myrna Bernard, says that several positive strides have been made in the area of education over the past 10 years.
According to her, there has been quite a reasonable track record in terms of the implementation of the regional education agenda.
She said that over the past 10 years a lot of work has been done in technical and vocational education and training.
However, Bernard noted that the pace of progress has not been completely satisfactory.
“Progress has not been at the speed that we would have liked but we see now that member states are quite anxious and willing to reorient their systems to the things that we were trying to do 10 years ago and that is quite heartening.”
She cited the advent of the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) as an example of something tremendously positive.
Bernard pointed out that strides have also been made in areas such as health and family life education. “We have actually gone through about two or three iterations of the health and family life education programme,” she added.
The current programme, Bernard said, was intended to be more skills-based rather than knowledge based like others before have been and that is an area in which they have made strides.
According to Bernard, there is still a long way to go as a lot depends on the teachers and preparing teachers for that particular kind of teaching.
She noted that HIV/AIDS and education has also been looked at and a special Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) was held last year. Bernard pointed out that there are initiatives within schools in the region and within education systems in the region to deal with the education sector’s response to HIV/AIDS.
“We have looked at the issue of accreditation even though the regional accreditation body is not yet in place.
We have worked with member states in terms of putting in quality assurance systems for the tertiary education systems and helping them to set up and build capacities for national accreditation bodies.”
Bernard added that in addition to those highlights there were also several other programmes that they were involved in with development partners.
The Caricom Director referred to the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN), which she said is very important.
She added that it is a network that links tertiary education institutions so they can share resources.
More importantly, Bernard said, the direction in which the work of CKLN is going right now has to do with providing tertiary education through distance education modalities using online instruction.
According to her, a lot of the work of CKLN in the coming period will focus on development of courses.
“And not only development of courses but also how we look at quality assurances within the context of distance education.”
Bernard pointed out that several member states do not have enough capacity in terms of tertiary education to satisfy the kinds of needs that exist now for persons with tertiary education.
She added that given the move towards the knowledge economy, expanding access is important and distance education modality is seen as very important in terms of providing that access and CKLN is going to play an important role in that.
Last Monday, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, after ten years, brought 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 COHSOD with special focus on education was held at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC) on Monday and Tuesday.
The first COHSOD on education was held in 1998 under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
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