Barbadian educator Dr Stephen Boyce has said that the island’s teachers need a higher level of training and knowledge to remain relevant to the changing education needs of children.
The European Union Project Officer on Education for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean made the recommendation as he delivered the feature address at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College’s 2015 graduation ceremony at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre Saturday.
“We need to raise the bar to make sure that teachers entering our classrooms have the requisite attitude, aptitude and ability, along with the requisite content technological and pedagogical knowledge to do the job, and that they must continue to perform well to stay in those jobs,” he said.
The former Queen’s College Teacher and Senior Programmer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, pointed to Barbados’ statistics, which he said, “indicate that 43 per cent of our classroom teachers would reach the qualification bar of first degree and two further years of pedagogical training, however 10 per cent of our teachers have no post-secondary academic qualifications.
“Some would argue that these numbers may be misleading and not a measure of the final output from the system. Some would argue that there are some highly competent uncertified teachers who get results and other more academically astute colleagues who do not.”
However, acknowledging that there were no statistics to back up such an argument, he said nonetheless, “we cannot leave the future of our children to the risk of either of their less than ideal scenarios”.
He congratulated Erdiston for setting a foundation in satisfying the demand for more trained teachers in the system, and said that based on this achievement the College could move to a more flexible and diversified programme, allowing for advanced learning and specialization.
He suggested that a move by the College to offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Education would be a necessary first step.
Earlier in the ceremony, Principal Barbara Parris has touched on Erdiston’s efforts at reaching that 10 per cent of untrained teachers to whom Boyce later referred.
Parris spoke of the Teacher’s Introductory Programme, a four-week course targeting untrained teachers at the primary and secondary levels.
“Of the 100 participants enrolled in the programme, 49 pursued the primary component, while 51 completed the secondary programme.”
She said the course was designed to help these untrained teachers plan lessons effectively on return to their classrooms.
In his speech, Boyce contended that the world re-invented itself in all spheres over the past two decades, and “It is important for education to do the same”.
He warned Barbadian educators not to get on the bandwagon of what was trendy, trending or politically correct, but to pragmatically maintain the relevance of education beyond just delivering a social good.
“The solution to improving test scores is not giving more tests, but improving the quality of instruction and of the assessment. The solution to improving instruction is not to give one group of teachers more money, but to pay good salaries to all teachers who have made the grade and continue to receive good results.
“The solution to better schools is not to build more schools, but to improve the quality of existing school plants so that they are geared towards producing the thinkers of today and tomorrow rather than the industrial workers of yesterday.”