Teachers attending the University of Guyana (UG) will no longer have to leave school during class hours or wait in line to attend the institution as the university has launched its International Centre of Excellence in Educator Innovation, Learning and Development (ICEEILD).

The centre, which will feature a blended learning environment whereby persons can attend classes online or in-person, aims to train teachers in their own time, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Humanities, Dr. Roslin Khan said during the launch on Wednesday at the university’s Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown campus.

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A section of the gathering at the launch of the International Centre of Excellence in Educator Innovation, Learning and Development (Photo: Ministry of Education/June 1, 2022)

The centre will see trained or untrained teachers being able to attend university between 17:00hrs and 22:00hrs, eliminating the need for them to leave their jobs during the day to attend university.

Teachers will also no longer need permission from their headteachers to attend classes or have to wait in line for a chance to attend the university. Additionally, hinterland teachers will now have an equal opportunity to attend university.

Dr. Khan said the facility seeks to be practicable, adaptable, accessible, relevant, flexible, affordable and to prepare people to earn as they learn.

Minister of Education Priya Manickchand said teachers from small schools in far-flung communities, which only allowed one teacher to undertake training at a time based on the system, will benefit significantly.

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“If we placed you at a riverain school where the teachers really need you and there’s already a teacher who just started UG, you have to hope that the teacher dies and you get to go next and that’s assuming there’s nobody in the line before you,” Manickchand said.

But this new system allows for any teacher to access training regardless of where they are from, the size of the school they are stationed and how many other teachers are also undertaking training at the school.

“It means we are going to be able to put more and more trained teachers in the classroom. Quantitatively, we’re going to have more teachers…but qualitatively they ought to be more effective at delivering education as they came to school and learnt how to teach,” Manickchand said.

President of the Guyana Teachers Union Mark Lyte expressed the union’s full support of the initiative; he said based on feedback, teachers are pleased.

Current students of the faculty of education and humanities and the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) lauded the initiative which they say will enable them to save time and money while attending the university.

“I can attend classes from the comfort of my sofa rather than the uncomfortable chairs in the classroom. In addition, I can take much-needed restroom breaks, get up, stretch my arms and my legs and even eat something which is not possible in a classroom situation,” Valissa Peters, a final year master’s student told the News Room.

A resident of the West Coast of Demerara said she incurred costs of up to $3,000 per week to travel to classes at the university, something which online classes eliminates.

Latchmie Sharma, who is currently pursuing studies in early childhood education at UG, said transportation issues were eliminated as she was able to study from the comfort of her home.

A resident of Berbice, Sharma said her programme is only offered face-to-face at the university’s Turkeyen campus, therefore online classes allowed her to remain home while undertaking her studies.

Dexter Somersett, a student at the CPCE said the initiative will allow teachers adequate time to meet deadlines and better manage their time.

Vice-Chancellor of UG, Professor Paloma Mohammed said the university saw the opportunity to put the courses offered at the faculty online and to rationalise and reorganise the faculty.

“When we did our surveys within the last couple of months, students and staff basically said, most of them said, we want to remain online, so we’re now reconfiguring our campus and our offerings to a blended campus,” she said.

Source:https://newsroom.gy/