–Min. Manickchand declares at launch of ‘retooling of teachers’ course, forerunner of the new ‘norm’ in education delivery
By Tamica Garnett
THE new innovative and technological means of education delivery that the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated will continue to be the way of life, even after the pandemic is over, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand said on Tuesday when she delivered remarks at the virtual launch of the “Re-Tooling of Teachers” training programme.
The training programme is a collaboration among the Ministry of Education (MoE), the Organisation of American States (OAS), and Profuturo, and is geared at training teachers in the knowledge and skills needed for them to smoothly transition to virtual teaching, a situation that became necessary due to the closure of schools brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though the system is being implemented to address the demands of the day, Minister Manickchand assured her audience that the measure is in fact a stepping stone in the long-term evolution of education delivery in Guyana.
“At the MOE, going forward, even post-COVID-19, the usual chalk-and-talk is not going to be how we deliver education,” the Minister declared.
“A post-COVID-19 is inevitable, and when that happens, you will not see what we have learnt in this period being tucked away or tossed in a basket; it will be used to better our delivery to be more diverse and versatile,” Minister Manickchand said, adding: “It is amazing how students have adapted! We might not have evolved as quickly in the classroom! I don’t believe that we are presently utilising all that is available to us; that will change.”
All 10,600 teachers in the public school system are expected to participate in the 100-hour programme, but it is also open to private school teachers, who are some 1000 in number. The training will be done on the ProFuturo’s Online platform, and some 300 coaches will be made available to assist the teachers as they go along.
Also delivering remarks during Tuesday’s launch was OAS Country Representative, Mr. Wil Campbell, who explained that while Profuturo had previously collaborated with the Ministry to focus on innovatively delivering education to students in a pilot programme, the COVID-19 pandemic caused it to be put on hold and the focus to be shifted to training for the teachers.
QUALITY DIGITAL EDUCATION
Launched here in 2016, Profuturo is an international organisation with a mission of globally providing children from vulnerable environments with quality digital education, through a partnership between the Telefónica Foundation and “La Caixa” Foundation.
Also present at the launch were National Project Coordinator, Mr. Selwyn Griffith, and MoE Head of the Management Information Systems (MIS) Unit, Mr. Yoganand Indarsingh.
Griffith explained that the Ministry is mindful that not all teachers will have the requisite Internet access, and as such printed modules of the courses will be disseminated to those disadvantaged teachers, who number 2,541.
The programme will see the teachers being trained in two components: Innovation and ICT. Each course will see teachers progressing through four levels: Basic, medium, advanced, and professional. For each level, teachers will be given a certificate, and the MoE will be recognising the completion of the programme as equivalent to completing 20 hours of professional development sessions.
This training programme comes after Minister Manickchand’s announcement on Friday that notwithstanding school buildings will remain closed, come Monday, the Ministry will be re-engaging students in education delivery using “a blended multifaceted approach” that will incorporate teaching via various Internet platforms, among them the Learning Channel, radio, and print materials that will be distributed to all students.
The recommencement of teaching is geared at reducing learning loss for the students, as schools having been closed since March 16. Though cognisant of the difficulties facing many teachers, the Minister noted that teachers, to the best of their abilities, are expected to play their part in the scheme of things.
Conscious of the inability to navigate many virtual platforms, the Ministry has therefore decided to train the teachers accordingly.
“We heard you when you told us you weren’t sure what to do outside of the classroom; when you told us it would help you if we could give you training on how to deliver your lessons, using various platforms,” Minister Manickchand had said on Friday. “So, to respond to you, so that we could together meet our students and learners needs, we are partnering to deliver to teachers mass training in Innovation and ICT,” she added.
The Minister noted that the COVID-19 situation has propelled the type of measures that have long since been talked about but never implemented.
“We see incredible opportunities that we were forced to see in this time, because we have had to close and force ourselves to think differently and deliver differently. Change is not always easy; and to bring along so many people at the same time, rapidly, with some of these changes, it’s not always easy,” Minister Manickchand said.
For the training, the teachers will be able to work flexibly, according to their own pace, in light of the varying difficulties and challenges that many of them face. However, the Minister said it is expected that the teachers will be responsible, and complete the programme within considerate time-frames.
Upon completion, the participants will be issued with e-Certificates.
“I encourage you to take up this opportunity. Get yourself trained; develop yourself! We ask you to do this to best prepare yourself to provide education to our young people,” Minister Manickchand said. “Let us help them, and help you to best prepare for the Guyana that is upon us, and the Guyana that will be here in the future!”