Get with it!

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Minister of Education Ronald Jones is concerned that schools in Barbados are not meeting the needs of today’s students, owing to the fact that teachers are not technologically savvy enough.

“We are still testing students by paper tests that you [teachers] might take three weeks to correct,” he said at the launch of the School Teacher Effectiveness Plans (STEP) project at the Erdiston Teachers Training College yesterday, while issuing a stern warning that “today’s child does not exist in that environment”.

“The [modern] child wants to see what is the result of the work that they have done now [and] we can’t keep denying the modern learner of the instant gratification that the modern learner seeks,” the Minister of Education told the gathering.

In fact, he suggested that the use of technology must become part of the normal teaching routine in all places of learning.

“So as part of this effectiveness planning, I want you to see the appropriate deployment of the technology as part of that agenda. Let us move forward, let us think inside the box and outside the box,” Jones advised.

The Minister of Education, who has been facing an uphill battle as he tries to get teachers on board with lifting the current domestic ban on cell phones in schools, went further to suggest to teachers that use of technology would actually make them better educators.

“Getting back results right away makes a child feel good in the moment [but] if you teach the same thing in the same way since 1961, you are going to get the same results,” Jones warned, adding that “if you want different results, you have to change the formula and . . . technology is [part of] changing the formula”.

Back in 2015, the STEP programme was piloted at eight primary schools – A. Dacosta Edwards, Belmont Primary, Boscobel Primary, St Elizabeth Primary, St Martins Mangrove, St Philip Primary, Wesley Hall Juniors and the Wilkie Cumberbatch School – with the remaining 61 primary schools due to come on board as early as next week.

Participating teachers and principals have benefited from expert training from officials of the University of New Brunswick in Canada.

The STEP initiative is aimed at improving school leadership and classroom teaching practices.

The effective implementation of STEPs in all primary schools is expected to result in the overall improvement in student performance, especially in literacy, numeracy and science.

Jones encouraged all principals and teachers to take full advantage of the opportunities.

“Set the standard and live by it, the students will follow,” Jones told those gathered.

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