Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, is encouraging teachers to make use of online programmes in upgrading their skills.
He said that while the Government is in full support of professional development, it could not afford the cost of having teachers on extended study leave.
“We all have to consider economics and it is not going to be possible for the extensive periods of study leave that we have been accustomed to in the past. It is simply not affordable,” Rev. Thwaites stated.
He was addressing a scholarship award ceremony for Spanish language teachers held on February 20 at the Caenwood Education Centre, Kingston.
According to the Education Minister, the Government owes many schools over $1 billion to pay temporary instructors while the regular teachers are on study leave.
He said that the Ministry intends to have discussions with the teachers’ groups, “to ensure that in the ambition of teachers to advance themselves…. the children that they teach are by no means curtailed, and that training will be done in ways that are consistent with modern technology rather than traditional habit.”
Fifty full scholarships valued at $237,500 were awarded to Jamaican teachers of Spanish by the Embassy of Spain and the Spanish- Jamaican Foundation.
The award, of $4,750 each, will enable the teachers to participate in a one year Virtual Spanish Classroom (Aula Virtual de Español) programme and will receive internationally accredited certification upon completion.
Rev. Thwaites thanked the Embassy and the Spanish Foundation for partnering with the Ministry to improve the teaching of Spanish in schools.
He said the fact that the programme of study is being offered online, “will make a tremendous difference where we will not sacrifice quality, but rather, we will enhance the professional advancement, the appropriate remuneration of our teachers and at the same time, be able to spread our resources in more productive ways.”
For her part, Ambassador of Spain to Jamaica, Celsa Nuño, stated that the course is very interactive and focuses on practical skills.
“It is also versatile and it embraces all the accents, the diversity of the countries that speak Spanish that are much closer to Jamaica,” she stated.
Over 100 teachers of Spanish are slated to benefit from the virtual study programme. The intention is to have better prepared teachers and students, improve teaching methodologies, and enhance the quality of foreign language education.
The training will provide a forum for self-improvement based on language competence and performance while at work, and will be of no cost to the Government of Jamaica.