To improve our ailing education system, Minister of Education Rupert Roopnaraine has on several occasions rightly emphasized the importance of integrating ICT in schools. Recently, when the Ministry of Education, under the one laptop per teacher initiative rolled out a programme of giving each teacher a laptop, many of us were very pleased. We interpreted it as the arrival of a new era. It was welcomed and seen as an opportunity where technology would be harnessed to lessen the workload of teachers. Lo and behold, the new school term has proved us wrong.
In preparation for the new school term, some of us prepared our schemes and notes of lessons on our computers. Ideally, we expected that when officers from the Ministry of Education came to supervise, they would check the schemes of work and notes of lessons using these computers. This week, officials from the Department of Education visited our school and indicated to us that they would not be accepting any schemes or notes of lessons on the laptops. Instead, they stressed that all schemes and notes of lessons must be handwritten. In other words, we must stick to the old model. We look at this as not only being inward looking, but also indicative of a very backward mentality which almost wholly annihilates the very reason why the computers were given to us.
With global warming and an emphasis on going green by preserving the environment, these officers are taking us to paper work, which is not only tiresome but is environmentally unfriendly. If this cannot be comprehended by the nation’s educators, I am afraid as a nation we may remain backward forever. Besides environmental factors, preparing notes of lessons electronically and in soft form would help to save the nation’s expenditure on stationery. What makes the whole episode vexatious is that despite our endeavour to explain, the officers would not listen. While some of us are not very surprised because the Minister inherited a system with a host of individuals who think that position is synonymous with intellect and knowing-it-all, as a citizen I remain concerned because these ‘great’ thinkers are never inclined to listen to an individual at the school level.
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