In-service teacher training launched at Mabaruma By Iana Seales
Stabroek News
February 28, 2004

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Project launched: CPCE in collaboration with the Guyana Basic Education Teacher Training Project (GBET) launched its Basic Level One Certificate Programme at Mabaruma yesterday. From left are Chief Education Officer Ed Caesar; CPCE Principal Cherryl Foste

Teacher education in Region One took a quantum leap towards improvement yesterday when the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) launched its Level One Basic Certificate Programme at Mabaruma in the North West.

Focused on the need to provide access to education as emphasised in the strategic plan of the Ministry of Education, the college in collaboration with the Guyana Basic Education Teacher Training Project (GBET) has expanded its programme with the establishment of an in-service teacher training centre in the hinterland community. One of five distance education programmes piloted at in-service centres, trainees of the Level One Basic will graduate at year end.

In 1996, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) offered a substantial grant to the Ministry of Education for the development of teacher education. After several consultations with project officers from CIDA and main stakeholders, GBET was designed. The project receives technical assistance from the Chief Executing Agency, TECSULT, and aims at ensuring CPCE has the capacity to implement distance-teacher training programmes with emphasis on hinterland regions.

CPCE Principal Cherryl Foster, in her address, noted that through this current collaboration the college now has a well-equipped Distance Education Unit and faculty capable of delivering and upgrading teacher education and teacher certificate programmes. Distance education has been recognised as a fairly recent innovation, Foster said and it has grown faster than any other form of education over the past 25 years. It is a resourceful approach to learning which puts the onus for learning on the learner, she pointed out, adding that it is useful not only for academic learning but also character-building life skills.

Upgrading programmes for teachers in the four core subjects are being offered in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine and many graduates of those programmes are either currently on the pre-service programme at Turkeyen, at the recently established centres in Region One or awaiting the establishment of centres in their regions.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues, in her feature address, said that though government is supportive of decentralising education, hinterland students are yet to make the cut for Cuban scholarships.

Rodrigues said she could not find ten students from Amerindian communities who met the scholarship requirements. Asserting that the current situation will change, the minister disclosed that she is working along with several persons to ensure that hinterland students benefit from the Cuban scholarship programme.

The initiative by CPCE is a welcome move in Region One Rodrigues said, as trainees no longer have to travel to the city to be upgraded.

Chief Education Officer Ed Caesar remarked that for the programme to be a success trainees must garner support. He said centres can be established in every community across the country but the onus is on the education department and trainees to make things work.

Caesar said that trainees will have to adapt to a new role; being accountable for the performance of every student. He called on them to demonstrate that work is being done in schools.

He said in the years ahead adequate collaboration between the University of Guyana (UG) and CPCE will result in the latter taking over the education programme offered at UG.

Programme Manager Pascale Turcotte said CIDA's approval of an extension for the distance education programme is testimony to CIDA's commitment to the project.

Co-ordinator of the Port Kaituma Training Centre Ann Forde told Stabroek News that the implementation of the Basic Level One Programme is a boost for the Mabaruma community and its environs, since schools will now have trained teachers at the end of the programme.

Forde who has been in the teaching profession for some 30 years said the programme will reach teachers in Sebai, Arakaka, Matthew's Ridge and Port Kaituma.

Four teachers from Forde's district, Port Kaituma, are among the first batch of trainees. The remaining 17 who form the teaching body at the school are yet to be upgraded.

Forde recalled that in 1992, an upgrading programme was launched in the community. The programme which ran for four years improved teacher performance and fully equipped them for the Basic Level One programme offered by CPEC. But the programme ended for want of funding and several teachers missed out on the training opportunity.

Bibi Samad, a teacher at Arakaka said the Basic Level One in the community has answered her dream to train right at home. Samad started in the profession five years ago, but her desire to train in Georgetown never saw fruition because of her busy schedule at home. Travelling to the city would have meant countless sacrifices. Now CPCE has come to Region One and fulfilled her dream to study and work in her community.

CPCE is commemorating 57 years of service in Guyana.