Mar 03, 2011 News
Government has announced that the Cyril Potter College of Education will be expanding its quota for private school teachers to ensure quality education delivery at private schools.
Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh, addressing a recent forum for private school teachers at the Regency Suite Hotel, also disclosed that the Continuous Professional Development programs being offered by the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD) will be opened to a limited number of private school teachers.
According to Baksh, the Ministry of Education is fully supportive of the development and expansion of private schools as they played a vital role in the fight to eliminate illiteracy, modernise education and strengthen tolerance.
The opening up of space at the teachers’ college is imperative as it spells better learning outcomes from students at private schools which accounts for over five percent of the national student population at the pre-primary to secondary school levels. The objective of the move, he said, is to get private schools to adopt the curriculum used in the public schools.
The Minister noted that in the public schools, the Grade Two and Four Assessments are being used as diagnostic tools to correct pupils’ weaknesses in literacy and numeracy and the intention is to have similar interventions at private schools.
He also mentioned the introduction of the National Grade Four Certificate which will come on stream this year. That initiative aims to arrest pupils’ shortcomings in these two critical areas before they sit the National Grade Six Assessments (NGSA).
A time will come when all pupils at the primary level both from the public and private schools will have to pass standard literacy and numeracy examinations in order to sit the NGSA, Baksh warned.
Regarding the secondary level, the Minister said that though there have been encouraging improvements in Mathematics over the past three years, the performance has been below the other sister CARICOM states.
Science results, though satisfactory, have been fluctuating over the past three years mainly because of a shortage of teachers.
There is also a shortage of teachers for Mathematics. At the secondary level, it is estimated that there are 70 university graduates in Mathematics and the Sciences, 80 from CPCE and 25 from the Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).
These circumstances, Baksh explained, has given rise for the government to recruit overseas teachers.
He also noted the need to improve the remuneration and working conditions of local teachers.
The Ministry of Education disclosed that through NCERD, it has been taking several steps to address the teacher shortage in the two subject areas.
“These include the introduction of an 18 month distance education programme for Mathematics and Science teachers who are not university graduates. The first batch of 15 Mathematics teachers graduated last year and 44 are currently enrolled.
Thirty teachers are pursuing the Science progamme and are expected to graduate at the end of the year.”
Students are also provided with textbooks recommended by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and model solutions to past CXC examination papers; schools were provided with copies of CXC in Focus DVDs covering 60 modules of the CXC Mathematics syllabus; and upgrading workshops are being held for teachers, particularly those at the low performing schools.
In addition, The Ministry of Education is aiming to have at least 50 per cent graduates in the system through the UG/CPCE Associate Degree in Education Programme.
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