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CARICOM holds forum in pursuit of quality education

CARICOM holds forum in pursuit of quality education

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The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat is advancing efforts to achieve clearer alignment, co-ordination and harmonisation of standards for the teaching profession in the Region.

On October 8, more than 150 education stakeholders throughout the education ecosystem met in a virtual forum titled Quality Teaching and Learning: Conclave of Best Practices in CARICOM Member States, a release from the Secretariat states.

The discussion saw a robust exchange of ideas for the professionalisation of teaching and for quality learning in CARICOM. It formed part of the implementation of the project: Fostering Educational Quality in CARICOM – Establishing Regional Standards for Educational Practices, supported by the government of Japan, through the Japan-CARICOM Friendship and Co-operation Fund.

Through the project, the CARICOM Secretariat is facilitating support to Member States as they align national standards to the CARICOM Standards for the Teaching Profession. A consultant, Dr. Barbara Reynolds, is leading the technical work with Member States.

According to the Programme Manager for Human Resource Development with the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr. Laurette Bristol, the discussion on October 8 follows bilateral and regional engagements on developments in establishing those standards. They revealed that Member States and Associate Members are making significant strides, but at varying levels of progress, with Jamaica as the forerunner. It has established a Teaching Council that is responsible for standard setting and the regulation of the profession, targeted professional development and guiding policy formation in relation to the well-being of teachers.

Dr Bristol recalled that in 2010, the Council for Human and Social Development commissioned a CARICOM Task Force on Teaching and Teacher Education to develop a regional framework to establish Teaching Councils at the national and regional levels.

COHSOD anticipated that the Councils would be autonomous bodies set up to promote the professional development of teachers while regulating and building the competency of the profession.

Even as the efforts continue towards the establishment of national and regional teaching councils, the meeting Friday last, benefited from discussions based on the experiences of Barbados, The Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, and  the Turks and Caicos, as in the pursuit of a quality education system.

Speaking at the opening of the session, Director for Human and Social Development at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Helen Royer said the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the value of good teachers and has mandated the need for investments to strengthen capacities within the teaching profession.

“Quality teaching is not possible without the creation of enabling conditions at both the system and school level,” she stated.

She said the project concludes in December 2021 with policy interventions that can only be meaningful through structures, which support connectivity and communication across the education system.

Senator Dr Rommel Springer speaking on behalf of Minister of Education of Barbados Santia Bradshaw, noted that the meeting was timely considering the challenges to quality education that the COVID-19 Pandemic exacerbated.

He said quality education is an issue that has confronted practitioners for decades, referencing the 2000 Dakar Framework for Action that outlined goals for improving every aspect of the quality of education.

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