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July 31, 2014
Teachers being taught ways to implement ICT in classrooms

By the start of the upcoming school term, secondary school teachers will be better equipped to effectively deliver lessons that utilize Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

On Monday, a series of workshops began for teachers, in an effort to train the educators in effectively implementing ICT in the classroom.{{more}}

This initiative was fuelled by the distribution of 15,000 laptops to students through the “One Laptop per Student” programme, and seeks to ensure that teachers can competently use ICT to engage and keep the attention of their students.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony, chief education officer Lou-Anne Gilchrist urged teachers to fully participate in the training sessions.

“We know that the training was sprung on you at the last moment; however, we do beg you to oblige us by planning your vacation in such a way as to accommodate the training. It is absolutely indispensable,” she said.

“It is one thing to distribute the devices to the students, but it is a whole other affair to ensure that students use these devices; in this particular case, the Acer laptops for the purposes for which they have been distributed. These purposes have everything to do with enhancing student engagement, enhancing their technological skills. Enhancing their ability to conduct research and present the findings of that research, so as to improve their performance and their outcome.”

Gilchrist noted that while the “chalk and talk” method will always have its place in the classroom, teachers should look for new ways to engage and promote learning equality among students.

“Putting a laptop in the hands of each student in St Vincent and the Grenadines is a vital step in reducing inequality. It is a step in promoting equal access. It is envisaged and hoped that when the students have the laptop and the lessons become more interesting, we will attract them in school,” the chief education officer explained.

Like Gilchrist, Minister of Information Technology Camillo Gonsalves feels that equipping teachers with the ability to help students use their laptops wisely will help to bridge the digital divide in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“There will be no digital divide here, because a poor student and a rich student will both have laptops, will both have Internet access and will both have the ability to communicate with the outside world in a way that most of the developed countries in the world cannot even begin to imagine,” Gonsalves said.

The minister noted that for students, there are many distractions and other factors that make the classroom setting seem limiting.

Gonsalves told teachers that by learning to implement ICT in the classroom, they will be better positioned to engage and keep the attention of the young minds of the nation.

“You are the tip of the developmental sphere that this government intends to use to take this country forward in terms of sustainable development,” he said.

“Tools like this can help attract and keep students in the classroom, keep them engaged while they are in the classroom. That is why the Government is investing so much time and money and effort into introducing these tools into the classroom.”

While highlighting the programme’s theme, “Fostering a brighter horizon through the use of technology”, Minister of Education Girlyn Miguel noted that the training was absolutely essential in an effort to enhance the education system and produce employable students that were equipped with the necessary skills.

“Our students must be given the opportunity to achieve success in their schooling and to graduate with the skills and qualifications necessary to ensure their economic survival,” she said.

The workshops, which are a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Education and the National Centre for Technological Innovation, are being sponsored by Digicel, at a total cost of EC$324,000.

In brief remarks, country manager John Gidharry highlighted Digicel’s commitment to the project and noted that one of the telecommunications company’s focuses is to ensure that youths are developed, which in turn will help to foster strong communities.

“There is really no better use of our time and our funds than ensuring that our people are granted the best possible start in life, especially our youth. Education is the key in unlocking enormous, limitless potential. In today’s connected world, education is not just limited to the classroom. Technology applied, if applied innovatively, that is, can and does help students develop various cognitive skills from basic recall skills to higher order and critical thinking,” he said.

Gidharry also revealed that on completion of the training process, each teacher will receive a Digicel 4G ready handset with connectivity.

The workshops commenced on Monday and will end on August 22. Each group of teachers will attend one week of training at various locations across the country, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m. each day.(BK)