Fast fix for migrating teachers - Education minister looks to technology to fill classroom vacancies
The Education Ministry is looking to technology to mitigate the impact of the frequent migration of specialist teachers, particularly in the areas of mathematics and science.
Minister of Education Ruel Reid says that while the ministry cannot stop the migration of teachers who want to take up lucrative opportunities overseas, efforts are being made to increase the use of technology in the classroom so that students are still able to receive their lessons.
"It's not an absolute substitute, but there is an emerging paradigm in the teaching-learning apparatus which is a concept called flipping the classroom. In order words, you are likely to have this kind of attrition, but you can retain the knowledge by using technology," he told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last Wednesday.
Earlier this year, the education ministry had reported that more than 500 mathematics and science teachers at the secondary level left the classroom to seek other jobs locally or to go overseas between 2014 and 2015.
According to Reid, this movement has underscored the need to recruit more teachers so that the education system does not suffer. He said he supports the suggestion that was made by his predecessor Ronald Thwaites, to offer scholarships to teachers being trained in specific areas.
"We will not be able to match the attractive income relatively that has been offered abroad. What we have to do is have a system that produces excess of these persons so that persons who migrate would not create a deficit in the system," said Reid.
"We do have the capacity, as a country, to train teachers for the overseas market, and that's a lucrative option for us as well, and we will be looking at that."
USE OF TECHNOLOGY
Reid noted that the use of technology to provide lessons is something that is already being explored and pointed to Campion College as one of the schools where this is the case. Lessons, he said, can be uploaded to video-sharing site YouTube or on a school's website.
"The Government also wants to roll out a massive programme of connectivity because we would love to have maths and English being taught at the same time right across the countries and if we were able to do that with technology, that again, would solve part of the problem.
"So even if a teacher is absent, the technology is able, because everybody is doing maths and English at the same time," the education minister told Gleaner editors and reporters.
Reid said the National Works Agency is currently in the process of running nodes across the country so that all government entities such as schools can have access to the Internet. This will help to make the use of technology in the classroom a possibility in the near future.