NATCOM (SKN) – Basseterre: October 29, 2013: “The purpose of the thrust towards ICTs in Education is to move beyond the process of simply delivering information to students, to assisting them to develop their own self-learning skills by using resources available to them.”
This point was emphasized by South Africa based ICT specialist and facilitator Neil Butcher at a recent workshop to develop the Federation’s draft policy on Open Educational Resources (OER) against the backdrop of the Ministry of Education’s ICT in Education policy.
The sentiment was reinforced by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Mrs. Ionie Liburd Willett. In addressing participants, she stated that as teachers and students use their government given laptops in instruction and learning, more educational materials would be accessed and as such the Ministry would need to ensure that proper procedures and policies are in place to facilitate the transformation.
Mrs. Willett said that the ministry is cognizant that in today’s knowledge-based society, Knowledge and skills play a major role in poverty reduction and the promotion of socio-economic growth. She added that Open Educational Resources have gained significant attention and currency locally, becoming a vehicle contributing to improved educational deliverables.”
The workshop was a collaborative effort with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and the Ministry of Education. Educational Specialist of E-Learning at the COL, Mark Bullen, emphasized that the Ministry’s understanding of the use of Open Educational Resources in the wider context of ICT policy is commendable.
He identified a number of processes that structured use of ICT could enhance including: providing access to educational resources and information; communication between learners and teachers; communication across international borders; collaboration and information sharing; social and professional networking as well as resource management.
Facilitator, Neil Butcher complemented the Federation for what he described as two key strengths in the ICT implementation strategy. These he stated as the small size of the Education system and thus the greater percentage of persons that can be involved in the planning process as well as the fact that most of the building blocks are in place.
“You are deploying computers. You are supplying devices to your students. You are supplying devices to your teachers. That means there are financial resources in place. You are high up on the ladder globally in terms of Internet penetration. You are working on expanding your connections to your schools and so you have all the elements in place that you need to leverage your educational advantage,” Mr. Butcher said.
He said the key objective of the workshop was to consolidate the investment the country has already made in technology to make sure it achieves the educational impact it wants to have.
UNESCO’s Regional Adviser in Communication and Information for the Caribbean, Hari Padhy said the Organization was very pleased with the progress that was being made in the development of the OER strategy locally, in light of its project on Enhancing Open Suite (Open Access to Scientific Information and Free Open Source Software) in the Caribbean Small Island Developing States.
The first Draft of the Ministry’s Policy on ICT/OER is expected to be presented to the Ministry by Mid-November, 2013.