Shortwood tackles dwindling enrolment
Amid increasing competition in the tertiary-education sector, Shortwood Teachers' College has made a concerted effort to arrest the downward trend in enrolment that has plagued the institution.
Principal of the teacher training institution, Dr Christopher Charles, has indicated that several remedial actions have been taken to reverse the downward trend in enrolment that has persisted for the past five years.
"Shortwood has been doing a number of things to recruit and has made recruitment a major part of our medium-term strategic plan. There is a dedicated team of recruiters who attend career fairs hosted by schools or community groups; we advertise in the traditional media ... we also offer scholarships as incentives. Recently we introduced a student-athlete scholarship programme to attract more males and to enhance our reviving sports programme. We have found however that the greatest recruitment tool is our graduates and current students - they tell others about the programmes and the culture of our college," he told The Gleaner.
According to Charles, "In the last five years we have seen a decrease in our numbers due mainly to the inability of the local market to absorb the numbers graduating from the many teacher-education programmes as well as the inability to pay the modest fees being charged. In the last year, however, we have attracted students from several Caribbean countries and we will continue the drive to get more of these students."
Charles has argued that teacher-training institutions such as Shortwood will continue to be relevant. He also disclosed that the institution is now preparing to offer online programme and also transition to being an affiliate college of the University of the West Indies.
"Despite the advances in technology, teachers will always be needed and no teacher training can be done solely through an online modality, thus making teachers' colleges still relevant and necessary. An institution like Shortwood, for example, will always have a role and relevance because we are constantly seeking ways to remain relevant and responsive to the needs of the industry," he said.
"We have realised, for example, that the face of teacher education is changing and the way we have always delivered our programmes is changing too. By January 2017, we are hoping to roll out our online programmes/courses,additionally we are introducing new programmes to address the shortfall/decline in student numbers."