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The contextualization and implementation of the UNESCO Teacher Competency Framework in Guyana

13.09.2011

Author: Marcia Joy Thomas, Education Technology Debate

This is because narrowing the digital gap is more than just providing physical access to computers and the Internet; people must understand how to put it to good use. The ICT in Education Strategy comprises the following elements:

Focus on Professional Development

Policy makers within the Education sector recognized that – in order for the government to achieve its objectives – emphasis had to be placed on teacher professional development in the areas of ICT in education, and therefore looked at ways to contextualize and implement the process.

The National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) is the Department within the Ministry of Education tasked with delivering all Continuous Professional Development programmes for in-service teachers. The ICT Unit within NCERD, which is staffed by three people, is responsible for all teacher training projects. The mandate of the Unit is to:

  • Train all teachers to the Basic Computer literacy level by 2012.
  • Manage all schools with computer laboratories (65 Primary, 80 Secondary).
  • Implement SuccessMaker Software into the 50 schools which includes training of 2,000 teachers in its use.
  • Train all secondary school teachers to deliver the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Information Technology and Electronic Document Preparation and Management Syllabi (109 teachers).
  • Research and develop modules for all aspects of ICT training within the Education sector.
  • Identify, train and implement low cost technologies with the schools system example (Jolly Phonics, Television, DVD’s, White Boards, etc).

The Unit was brought on stream in 2009 and a five-year work programme was prepared that outlined the rollout of the various tasks as outlined below:

  • Contracted local experts in ICT from the University of Guyana (UG) and sought permission from Microsoft to use materials from them to create the first set of training manuals for the Basic Computer Literacy Level.
  • Once the Manuals were completed, 20 Master Trainers were trained in the delivery of the content. These master trainers were senior IT teachers from the secondary level, with degrees in computer science from UG and Trained Teachers Certificates from the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).
  • On average, 15 training classes were held every week, all over the country and in Georgetown.
  • The SuccessMaker Training Programme was ongoing in 14 primary schools and is being implemented in phases in additional 50 primary schools from October, 2011.
  • A whole-schools approach to the training of the teachers in the Schools with IT Labs was adopted and training is being done in those schools in the afternoons by the resources persons. The training is a combination of the Basic Computer Literacy and the use of SuccessMaker.
  • 109 secondary school teachers were trained in programming over a period of one year.

As part of the five-year work programme, it is expected that all 13,000 teachers in Guyana would be trained to at least a level of basic computer literacy.

To date:

  • 3,500 teachers have been trained in Basic Computer Literacy;
  • 30 schools are running SuccessMaker successfully;
  • 109 Secondary School teachers are competent to deliver Computer Science syllabi and the number of students writing these subjects has tripled in 2 years.

The ICT unit has faced some challenges. The major ones were:

  • Qualified personnel to help with module writing;
  • Retention of resource personnel;
  • Equipment – lack of computers for training programmes;
  • Lack of financial resources for implementation of initiatives and associated travel requirements;
  • Lack of connectivity.

After reviewing the options available and recognizing that there was a lack of direction, the Ministry decided to adopt the UNESCO ICT Competence Framework for Teacher in November, 2009. The Ministry then entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commonwealth Secretariat (ComSec) and Commonwealth of Learning (COL) to secure their help in applying the Framework in such a way that it would suit the needs of Guyana. Based on this, an ICT Professional Development Strategy for Teachers in Guyana was developed in March, 2010, within the UNESCO Framework presented below.


The long-term outcomes of this strategy will be to ensure that all Ministry of Education officials, teacher development management and staff, school principals, and teachers are competent to harness ICT effectively to support high quality teaching and learning in Guyanese schools, with:

  1. Most able to integrate the use of basic ICT tools into the standard school curriculum, pedagogy, and classroom structures, knowing how, where, and when (as well as when not) to use technology for classroom activities and presentations, for management tasks, and to acquire additional subject matter and pedagogical knowledge in support of their own professional development; and
  2. A critical mass able to use more sophisticated methodologies and technologies with changes in the curriculum that emphasize depth of understanding and application of school knowledge to real world problems and pedagogy in which the teacher serves as a guide and manager of the learning environment and students are engaged in extended, collaborative project-based learning activities that can go beyond the classroom and may involve local or global collaborations.

Description of the Strategy

The ICT Professional Development Strategy for Teachers in Guyana will provide a comprehensive framework and learning pathway for Ministry of Education officials, school principals, administrators, and teachers to become competent to harness ICT effectively to support high quality teaching and learning. This learning pathway will use the UNESCO ICT CFT as its guiding framework. It will seek to develop core competences for the key intended audiences for a suite of professional development initiatives, as mapped out below.


Thus, the Guyana ICT Professional Development Framework for Teachers will incorporate the following initial professional development options.

  1. ICT components in the revised CPCE programme (which, according to current plans, will be a two-year programme leading to a two-year Associate Degree in Education):
    • Two compulsory courses to introduce teachers to technology – electronic and otherwise – and then in more detail to ICT in education, equivalent to six semester credits (these courses are anticipated to focus on the level of ‘Technology Literacy’, in terms of the UNESCO ICT CFT);
    • A dedicated focus in secondary subject options to enable teachers to specialise in teaching IT as a subject;
    • Subject-specific ICT integration specializations (incorporated into subject-specific courses, not delivered as separate modules).
  2. ICT components in the revised UG programme (a further two years of study, which will lead to a Bachelor of Education Degree):
    • Two further compulsory courses on ICT integration in education, again equivalent to six semester credits (anticipated to focus on the level of ‘Knowledge Deepening’, in terms of the UNESCO ICT CFT)
    • A dedicated focus in secondary subject options to enable teachers to specialize in teaching IT as a subject;
    • Subject-specific ICT integration specializations (again incorporated into existing modules, not delivered as separate modules).
  3. A suite of courses to be offered by NCERD, with the possibility that some may, through a licensing agreement, be delivered by one or more suitable third-party suppliers and quality assured by NCERD. In the next five years, the objective will be to:
    • Create a dedicated module on ICT Integration for school principals, to be integrated into the 18-month course for school principals. In addition, it will be important to offer this module as a stand-alone course for people who have already successfully completed the course without the ICT Integration module. This module will include a specific focus on ‘Using ICT in school administration’.
    • Re-package the four ICT Integration modules being designed for the new CPCE and UG ADE and B. Ed. programmes as into two stand-alone courses for qualified teachers, as well as designing a stand-alone course for qualified teachers who are teaching IT as a subject, but are not formally qualified to do so.
    • Develop a stand-alone course on using Success Maker in schools. This short course will require two versions, one for teachers who are already ICT literate and one for those who are not.
    • Design of a course for ICT Coordinators at schools.
    • Design of a course for ICT maintenance and support personnel.

Implementation

The Innovative and Communication Unit within NCERD has worked closely with a consultant appointed by COL and ComSec on all aspects of the strategy and agreed upon the following principles and assumptions:

  • Integration of the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers into all ICT TD initiatives and the curriculum design of all courses;
  • Focus on constructing clear learning pathways for Guyanese teachers aligned to the Framework;
  • Use of appropriate technologies and online/offline applications – different models;
  • Delivery of professional development will be timed to coincide with ICT infrastructure models and rollout into schools;
  • Alignment of pre-service and in-service TD (CPD);
  • Increase capacity to deliver and capacity building of all staff;
  • Change management is central to the strategy;
  • All courses will be competency-based and include appropriate blends of face-to-face and distance learning and use of e-learning/appropriate technologies;
  • Seek international benchmarking for courses (e.g. submit relevant courses and modules that it designs to The Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth for formal approval when this becomes possible);
  • Seek to build on and adapt existing national and international courses and modules wherever possible;
  • Facilitate sharing of courses and materials by releasing them as Open Educational Resources (OER) on the Connected Classrooms Repository.

In addition, the World Bank, in collaboration with the Government of Guyana, has launched a project for the re-structuring of the CPCE and the UG Faculty Of Education and Humanities. The decision was taken that the UNESCO Framework would also be the basic for all ICT Courses offered by the two Institutions and that they would be aligned with what was offered at NCERD.

The COL/ComSec consultant, working very closely with the ICT Unit at NCERD, has:

  • Designed an instrument that is being administered to all Guyanese teachers, as well as personnel at CPCE, UG, and NCERD. This instrument is a baseline study that will be used to determine the ICT capacity of the respondents. The data analysis and results will be used for decision making within the MOE, and this analysis will be repeated annually.
  • Begun developing the Modules for Technology Literacy and Knowledge Deepening. The existing modules from all ICT courses offered at the three institutions will be reviewed and modified to meet the standards of the UNESCO Competency framework for Teacher Professional Development. The first set of modules is expected to be piloted in August, 2011.
  • Several proposals for the improvement of the ICT Infrastructure within the three institutions have been tabled and procurement is on-going.

Conclusion

In conclusion, recognising that it is people that drive ICT use to create change in societies, the Ministry of Education is of the notion that the integration of ICT into the learning and teaching process through teacher training and professional development will become the backbone to creating a knowledge society that will have impact on the way ICT is used in the Country.

The plans and initiatives outlined in this document are aimed at:

  • Changing the education culture of Guyana by addressing one of the critical needs within the system – stimulating and inculcating the use of ICT by all educator at all levels thus moving them from the analogue mode of thinking and moving them to the digital age, which will bridge the digital divide between teachers and their learners.
  • Creating a society of responsible ICT users who can effect change in the way ICT is currently being used in Guyana – teachers and students can make decisions and choices that are based on a social and moral responsibility to the country.
  • Preparing teachers with the fundamentals to be the driving force behind all of the initiatives that are being implemented by the Government of Guyana.

The conceptualization and implementation of the UNESCO competency framework will equip the teachers to face the growing demands for Guyana to join the rest of the Caribbean and world in creating a global Knowledge Society.