The Ministry of Education had partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on a programme, which seeks to share knowledge and resources to improve education in Jamaica.
The Jamaica Partners for Educational Progress – Community of Practice (CoP), which was launched at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday (December 15), is an informal knowledge network, which aims to provide a platform for public participation in education policy and practice; improve practices in basic education from the classroom to policy; and promote a common vision to enhance coherence, coordination, and integration of efforts.
Senior Advisor to the Minister of Education, Dr. Rebecca Tortello, said the CoP will assist in identifying relevant research and stage important discussion fora, which will enable the sharing of best practices island-wide.
She said it is an important complement to the National Parenting Policy to be implemented next year, in that it will enhance the Ministry’s efforts to provide greater support for parents, and foster their sustainable involvement in schools, by extending the range and reach of information that the Ministry provides.
Mission Director for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Karen Hilliard, is in light conversation with Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission, Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughn at the launch of Jamaica Partners for Educational Progress – Community of Practice (CoP) on December 15 at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.
She said parents will be able to link to the CoP and seek information and guidance through the parents’ places, which will be established as part of the National Parenting Policy. These parenting places, which will be located in every major community, will offer a comfortable and attractive environment for parents to go for information, workshops and support, and family activities.
“The CoP will also help us in creating a recommended list of website and information to be disseminated among our parents’ places,” Dr. Tortella said.
“We can easily envision the nation’s parish and branch libraries, many of which already offer free Internet access, quickly applying to become recognised as parents’ places. Then, they will be able to offer streamlined parenting information linked to the national minimum standards and, in some cases, workshops and family activities like the ‘We Likkle But We Tallawah’ infant parent reading programme, which debut last year in our Kingston Parish library, and is planned to spread to all parish libraries in 2011,” she said.
In her greetings, Mission Director for the USAID, Dr. Karen Hilliard, said the CoP will enable Jamaica to learn from best practices across the globe.
“The community of practice is not just Jamaica specific it is global, because our partners around the world can chime in with the lessons that they have learnt, and we here in Jamaica can, in turn, tell them about our successes and the many innovations in the education sector,” she said.
Meanwhile, United States (US) Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency, Pamela Bridgewater, stated that the CoP creates another opportunity for school administrators and teachers to share best practises and learn from each other.
“It is a space for discussion of the big and the small issues, which schools face daily we look forward to the dialogue between and among teachers, students, and administrators I pledge to you, the US Mission’s support as education in Jamaica continues its upward progress,” she said.
The launch also included a lecture by Chief Executive Officer of Reach Out and Read, and founder of Summer Advantage USA, Earl Phalen, and the launch of the CoP website.
The CoP is an online network, moderated by a team that includes a facilitator and research assistant. It is guided and supported by the resource group, which comprises representatives from various stakeholder groups, as well as the facilitation team and other appointed persons. Members may submit and reply to queries, contribute to discussions, participate in public consultations and collaborate with other members on special community projects.
CoP membership is open to all professionals, practitioners and those concerned with the basic education sector. These include: teachers, government officials, policy-makers, academics, members of parent-teacher associations, international development partners, students, and private sector groups.