Teachers being trained for IT in nursery and primary schools
Stabroek News
August 12, 2004

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Teachers are being trained to facilitate the introduction of the information technology (IT) component of the Basic Education Access Support (BEAMS) programme scheduled to get underway during the second term of the new academic year in nursery and primary schools.

However, a meeting of all headteachers of nursery and primary schools in George-town scheduled for yesterday at the National Centre for Educational Resource Deve-lopment (NCERD) in Battery Road, Kingston was called off after just a handful of teachers showed up.

The project is to be piloted initially in Georgetown and in Region Two (Pomeroon/ Supenaam).

From discussions with some heads and the organisers of the meeting, Stabroek News understands that the headteachers may not have received the correspondence about the meeting because schools were closed for the holidays and no notice was placed in the media. The meeting was put off to a date to be announced.

According to a handout meant for the headteachers, the IT component referred to in the BEAMS project as Innovative Technology Media will be used to provide examples of effective teaching methods, record classroom practices as feedback to teachers and to the Technical Coordinating Unit (TCU) and expand the reach of training programmes.

Some facilities would also be provided to the regional education officers in areas where certain BEAMS training activities will take place.

In addition the IT section will have its own evaluation activities. The BEAMS IT staff includes international IT specialist, Cliff Block; operations manager and trainer, Dennis Swan; administrative assistant and trainer, Levana Gouveia; and IT trainer, Kim Spencer.

During the initial implementation period, the handout noted that some equipment would be provided for schools in the pilot project.

As part of its overall responsibility, the TCU would identify either a regional education department or the Cyril Potter College of Education regional centre as the base for BEAMS training and follow-on support. In this regard the TCU is seeking the advice of regional education officers and other regional educators.

The BEAMS teacher training and follow-on support would centre on `cluster advisors' who are to ensure the classroom implementation of IT. They would be expected to use the tools provided which include several combination radio/CD/audio cassette/player radios to deliver the innovative technologies IRI (Interactive Radio Instructions) mathematics programme.

A cluster advisor is to visit each school within the cluster at least once a month. At times a master trainer or other expert would accompany the cluster advisor. Once per term the cluster advisors for each region would meet at the regional centre for discussion and further training by master trainers.

One officer is to manage the use of the equipment by the cluster advisors, who would use it on a rotating basis. The BEAMS formal training activities would centre on meetings of master trainers and cluster advisors in each region.

On a rotating basis also each cluster advisor would be able to make use of a laptop computer with a CD ROM/DVD player, a laptop projector for display to groups of teachers, a small digital camera and an audio-cassette recorder/player.

In terms of the management and support of the equipment packages, the handout said that a local schedule would be developed within each region to permit a cluster advisor to use the package on a regular basis by picking it up at the regional centre, using it for training and returning it.

It said too that with an average of 10 cluster advisors in each region, and a three-day cycle for each use of the media package, each cluster advisor should have the use of the equipment at least once or twice per month.

IT staff and specialists are to provide initial training to master trainers and cluster advisors in the use of the several technologies. They would also be available to give trouble shooting advice about the equipment.