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Teachers’ colleges to deepen linkages with UWI

Published:Tuesday | March 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Dr Moses Peart, chairman of the St Joseph’s Teachers' College and the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Board, has revealed that the University of the West Indies (UWI) will be playing a more active role in the delivery of programmes at teachers’ colleges.

Peart, a recently retired lecturer in the School of Education at the UWI, told The Gleaner that some colleges have already started to offer UWI-awarded degrees.

In 2014, eight Government-funded teachers’ colleges signed an agreement which gave them authorisation to award UWI Bachelor of Education degrees.

The agreement became necessary as a result of Government policy which now mandates that all teachers at the secondary level must have a first degree as a minimum requirement for employment.

The requirement forms part of efforts to reform the tertiary education sector. The colleges previously offered a teaching diploma.

As reform of the sector continues the partnership between the colleges and the UWI will become more advanced.

Peart said this will serve to improve the state of teacher education in Jamaica.

“They will step up because once they are part of the larger family, there are support systems and there are requirements for accreditation and if they don’t have up-to-date systems they will have to build it with all of the support they can get from the family of institutions. So universities might be stronger in quality assurance and they can help the colleges to beef up on their quality assurance,” he said. 

According to Peart, it is envisioned that the principals of the various teachers’ colleges will be designated as pro-vice chancellors, with standing in the UWI academic community. A pro-vice chancellor is an assistant or deputy vice chancellor of a university with an academic or administrative leadership role.

Dr. Christopher Clarke, principal at Shortwood Teachers' College, told The Gleaner that his institution was anticipating a transition to an affiliate college of the UWI.

“One of the major changes likely over the next two years is Shortwood becoming a college of the University of the West Indies. When this is done we will become a multidisciplinary institution rather than one solely offering teacher education,” he said.

Dr Ashburn Pinnock, president at the Mico University College, said the institution’s partnership with the UWI has been focused in the area of mathematics and science.

Peart was quick to dispel the notion that the UWI will be taking over the administration of the colleges, noting that their autonomy will not be affected in any way.

Peart also noted that the arrangement with the UWI does not preclude the colleges from partnering with other universities, whether local or international.

“The autonomy at the local level is critical and so the status of the colleges will be connected to... people usually get scared by ideas of take over but no larger organisation would be excited about taking on more administrative functions,” he added.