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Published:Thursday | March 3, 2016 | 3:00 AMAndre Poyser

President at The Mico University College, Dr Ashburn Pinnock, has argued that teacher-training institutions should begin exploring ways to diversity their programme offerings in order to attract more young people to the teaching profession.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Pinnock said that it would benefit teachers' colleges to transition to multidisciplinary colleges where students would be able to earn complementary qualification, which would equip them to be flexible in terms of their employment prospects. This, he said, would make teachers more marketable.

"One of the things that I believe we can do is to diversify our offerings while not moving away from our core responsibility. We also need to up our standards and find other areas in which persons can be trained; so what I'm thinking of is a major, where teachers will acquire additional skills which will help you in your teaching, but will also equip you to take up other kinds of other opportunities," Pinnock said.

HOW IT COULD WORK

He went on to outline some areas of consideration.

"Someone who would do a little actuarial science, for example, along with their maths course, it will help you with your teaching, but also make you a little more marketable. If you put a little more engineering with the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education ... with your maths and science and physics teachers, you could have them trained in engineering; hospitality with education ..."

According to Pinnock, the additional qualification would allow teachers to find employment during the summer break. He explained how teachers could be trained in the area of security with the aim of utilising them as a reserve security force.

"It takes four years to train a teacher to a degree level. It takes about six months, I'm told, for the basic training for a police officer; so during the four years, we can find the time for the six months training during the summer after-school sessions. And if we partner with the national security ministry to train these teachers, they could graduate after four years as a police officer and as a teacher," he said.

"That kind of police training would not be the traditional training," Pinnock said. "It would be a training in terms of fighting crime from a preventive perspective. Mediation, counselling, psychology ... and, therefore, cutting back on the crime rate and identifying crime from within schools; which would take some pressure off the security ministry because they would be paid teachers and then they can be deployed in the summers, when the students are on the roads. They could also be used to fight crimes from an intelligence point of view; cybercrime and other areas," he explained.