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UWI, teachers' colleges to sign degree pact

Published:Thursday | August 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

THE UNIVERSITY of the West Indies (UWI) and the Teachers' Colleges of Jamaica are on the verge of signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which will formalise arrangements for the provisions of programmes given jointly by the entities.

Under the arrangement, which has been in place for four years and will see its first set of graduates this year, persons attending teachers' colleges will be able to read for a UWI Bachelor's of Education degree in areas such as primary education, special education, and school counselling.

The degrees will also be offered in secondary education in areas such as business studies, computer studies, English, geography, history, mathematics and modern languages.

Garth Anderson, deputy dean of the Teachers' Colleges of Jamaica, told The Gleaner that he is hopeful that the signing of a MoU between the colleges and the UWI for a degree programme will be the impetus that is needed to get persons signing up to undertake teacher training. The UWI degree is accepted across the world and in universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale.

Some 3,236 persons graduated from teachers' colleges last year, but Ronald Thwaites, minister of education, has said there is no space for the employment of teachers in general areas within the public-school system.

Thwaites said that there are 2,000 trained teachers who are currently unemployed, and another 2,000 in the system who are underdeployed.

at its worst

The teachers' colleges are reporting that enrolment for teachers' college is at the "worst in decades", with demand now about 50 per cent of its capacity.

Dosseth Edwards Watson, Shortwood Teachers' College's vice-principal administration, said the colleges are working overtime to improve quality. She also said her institution has targeted modern languages as a field of study, saying graduates can use it to land jobs in areas other than teaching.

"We are about building character. At the end of the day, the quality education you get is holistic," she said.

The country's teachers' colleges have now moved away from offering diplomas and are now offering bachelor's degrees through the UWI, whose vice chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris, told college administrators that there needs to be more degree-trained teachers in the system.

Harris, who on Monday delivered the keynote address at a development workshop hosted by the Teachers' Colleges of Jamaica at the Jamaica Conference Centre, said much attention has to be placed on numeracy and literacy in the region.

"The figures in Jamaica may have been better this year, but no one can argue that these are suitable numbers on which to forge a modern society. ... If we are to use performance at CXC exams as a basis for assessing our students' ability to cope with the new world, we would be disappointed," Harris said.