The Ministry of Education is offering an Associate Degree in Education (ADE) programme at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) to boost teachers’ capacity in the delivery of education.
According to a Govern-ment Information Agency (GINA) press release the ministry officially launched the programme on Monday at the CPCE, Turkeyen Campus. In his address, Minister of Education Shaik Baksh told the student teachers, who are already participating in the programme, that they are engaged in two intensive years of study. The initial teachers’ training programme was three years long. Baksh noted that over the years the status of teaching profession has been declining but several strides are being made to revert it to its former glory.
When the Education Strategic Plan was initially formulated, teacher training was the main focus since teacher education and the quality of teachers are critical to transforming the education system. Baksh said he was pleased that 400 teachers have enrolled in the CPCE this year, adding that the qualification requirements for entry into CPCE have been increased. Persons desirous of pursuing teacher training must have grades one to three passes in Mathematics and English to pursue studies at the college.
Persons who do not have the requisite grades can enrol in free tutoring classes the ministry is hosting to help them to boost their grades so that they can enter the college in the next academic year. It is expected that with the new curriculum there will be a qualitative difference from the trained teachers’ certificate. Baksh noted that some persons have suggested that the trained teachers’ certificate should not be discredited, however having the ADE programme is essential since the other Caricom countries have already implemented the programme.
Some countries have raised the bar even further, where an individual seeking to become a teacher must have a degree before pursuing the profession. In this regard, the minister said more university graduates should enrol in the education system at all levels. However, teachers who are pursuing programmes at the tertiary level should give back lost hours to the school system so that the students do not suffer.
GINA said the ministry is also working with the University of Guyana to timetable classes for teachers in the afternoon, instead of during the day to minimise disruption of the school day.
The Teacher Improvement Plan also includes the upgrading of teacher educators to the Master’s level, both at CPCE and UG’s School of Education and Humanities. This is to ensure that the trainee teachers receive quality training, while at those institutions and they will also be able to specialize in specific areas including Mathema-tics, the sciences and special education. Teachers will also be engaged in 19 weeks of practicum sitting the ADE examinations. This will be followed by an induction period where they will be mentored and guided by trained teachers who will be paid.
Baksh noted that the trainees will not leave CPCE without knowledge of the use of Information Communica-tion Technology (ICT) devices as the college will be outfitted with an ICT lab which will provide them with the necessary skills. Trained teachers are not left out of the improvement plan as they are engaged in Continuous Professional Development, which not only upgrades their qualifications but functions as a mechanism that awards promotions.
Additionally, there is need for a policy framework that ensures teachers are in receipt of acceptable conditions of service. Baksh noted that teachers have access to a number of incentives, including for those on the coast who are appointed to schools in the hinterland regions. He indicated that a decision was taken, stemming from the 20th COHSOD meeting, to establish a National Teaching Council that will ensure the teaching system is professionalized and set standards are achieved.