Ten teacher training institutions across the island, are benefiting from a capacity building project aimed at improving the quality and efficacy of their teacher training programmes.


Under the project, which is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) through the Government of Japan, 30 internal quality assurance standards have been developed which will guide teacher training institutions in their design, development, delivery of programmes and the preparation of teachers.


The standards, which were developed by the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (J-TEC), were officially launched during a virtual ceremony held on Friday (Oct. 30).


The institutions targeted for this intervention are the Shortwood Teachers’ College, St. Josephs Teachers’ College, G.C. Foster College of Physical Education, Bethlehem Moravian College, Church Teachers’ College, Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, Moneague College, the College of Agriculture, Science and Education, the Mico University College, and Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.


It is expected that the implementation of these standards will improve, strengthen, and standardise quality assurance systems in the institutions. Additionally, strengthening these systems, and the associated processes and procedures will enhance teacher education and, ultimately, student performance across the levels.


In a video message, Minister of Education, Youth, and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams commended J-TEC for developing the standards, which will serve to improve the teaching and learning environment.


She noted that the development of the standards does not mean teacher training institutions are operating below par, but is a recognition of the urgent need to adapt to the changing times “and in doing so, ensure that the quality of our output is not diminished”.


“The importance of having rigorous national and institutional quality assurance standards in education cannot be over-emphasised. The society as a whole and people entering educational institutions at all levels, must have the confidence that the training offered is of the highest quality covering tangibles such as competence, content, delivery, and reliability,” she said.


Minister Williams also noted that the challenge now confronting the nation’s educational systems is how to transform the curriculum and teaching-learning process to provide students with the skills to function effectively in an information-rich, and continuously changing environment.


“Within this context, improving the quality of education through the diversification of content and methods and promoting experimentation and innovation take on greater significance,” she said.


The Education Minister noted as well that there is growing awareness among policy-makers, business leaders and educators that the educational system designed to prepare learners for an agricultural or industrially-based economy will not provide students with the knowledge and skills they will need to thrive in the 21st century’s knowledge-based economy and society.


“For education to reap the full benefits of Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) in learning, it is essential that pre- and in-service teachers are able to use these new tools for learning in an effective manner.


Teacher education institutions and programmes must therefore provide the leadership for pre and in-service teachers and model the new pedagogies and tools for learning,” she said.


In her video-recorded message, Lead Education Specialist, Social Sector Department, Education Division, IDB, Cynthia Hobbs, noted that the IDB has been supporting the education sector in Jamaica for decades.


“Our efforts include teacher quality training in Math and Science, contributions to the Jamaica Teaching Council, equipment and teaching materials to teacher training institutions to improve their training programmes and participation in conferences and seminars to share our research on teacher quality, and now we have supported the development of this internal quality assurance standards which are an important step in moving towards high impact, high quality teacher training programmes,” she said.


She assured that the IDB is committed to continue working with the Education Ministry to ensure that teachers have the support they need to offer the very best education to Jamaica’s children and youth.


In his remarks at the event, Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica, His Excellency Masaya Fujiwara noted that the Government of Japan highly values education as a key area of assistance to the country, pointing out that Japan has been collaborating with the Education Ministry to support various projects in Jamaica for many years.


“Without a doubt, education is the engine for national development and it is the sector that Japan places great emphasis,” he said.


He further informed that the Japanese Government also procured 100 tablets under the project to support skill building “especially during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, (where) digital learning and distance learning is an imperative”.


During the ceremony, Ambassador Fujiwara and Minister Williams presented the devices to representatives of the beneficiary institutions.


This support to teacher training institutions is part of a technical cooperation agreement between Japan and the IDB aimed at transforming the education sector in Jamaica – focusing specifically on improving early childhood education, the Education Ministry’s Educational Services Division, and teacher training institutions.


A total of US$600,000 in grant funding was provided for the venture with the Japanese Government providing US$500,000, and the Government of Jamaica contributing US$100,000. Of the sum, US$260,000 was provided to support teacher training institutions.