Computer literacy should be part of curriculum from primary level
Delegates told at opening of teachers annual conference

Stabroek News
April 18, 2001

With technology sweeping the world and changing the nature of work, the objective of education should be "to teach how to learn, how to problem solve and how to synthesize the old with the new."

Carol Clarke-Cave, coordinator of the Bahamas Baptist Community College who was scheduled to declare open the 117th Annual Delegates Conference of the Guyanese Teachers Union yesterday afternoon at 5.00 p.m. said in her presentation, a copy of which was seen by Stabroek News, that "knowledge as a factor of production is becoming increasingly important- more even some would argue than land, labour or capital. It is incumbent on us to actively reform our educational system in ways that are consistent with our national priorities; and these ...must now take into consideration both the fundamental changes occurring in the underlying structure of the global economy and also new strategies for achieving national advantage."

"Daily we see that the spread of technology is reducing on a global basis the amount of production that requires unskilled labour.. business therefore .. is increasingly interested in defining the nature of education so that such education produces workers who fit the needs of the business."

To address this need Mrs Clarke-Cave believes that education should move away from conveying a body of knowledge and "should enhance the ability of learners to access, assess adapt and apply knowledge to think independently, to exercise appropriate judgement and to collaborate with others to make sense of situations."

Teachers' roles will therefore have to change from being the "sage on stage" to "a guide on the side " who can assist students in gaining skills and abilities required to access and utilize knowledge contained in various forms around the world. A single connection at Lethem or Santa Rosa or Kwakwani can provide access to a whole world of libraries to a school that previously did not have too many books. Further these privileges should be available to all, and not just the privileged few ..."

Mrs Clarke Cave warns of this digital divide." My concern is especially for and about those schools - often mired in the cultures of poverty and often relegated on the back burner -that think they are unimportant and that they have little of any contribution to make to the development of this nation."

To this end she suggests the following initiatives amongst which are:

"The curricula of all - not merely some nursery, primary and secondary schools should include computer literacy ... All graduates of the Faculty of Education at UG should be exposed to computer training ...More businesses should donate computers and computer expertise to schools... The Ministry of Education should set up computer schools in various places to which students from a cluster of neighbouring schools can go on a part time basis...."

But Clarke-Cave concludes that "If we recognise the importance of education globally then we must understand the importance of the Guyanese teacher .... You cannot provide the Guyanese teacher with poor working conditions pay the Guyanese teacher peanuts and expect to keep them here. He that hath ears to hear. Let them hear."