ICT in Education – A Caribbean Forum
The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating social and economic impacts on societies around the world. Caribbean countries have been particularly impacted with the significant fallout in tourism and other key sectors. The pandemic’s impact on the delivery of education has been monumental and regional governments have struggled to develop sound policies to enable teaching in a safe environment. Schools, from the early stages of the pandemic, have been closed to face-to-face teaching, with governments turning to technology platforms such as Google Classroom, Zoom and others to enable online learning. This has in itself led to other challenges such as the exclusion of some particularly vulnerable segments of society, who are unable to access either the internet or technological devices to participate effectively. More recently, governments have sought to implement hybrid systems that allow for some students to return to the classroom, while other students continue to interact with the teachers virtually.
In addition, issues concerning whether teachers have been trained to operate effectively in this new technological environment were also evident. The shift to digital modes of teaching requires a different set of pedagogical skills and competencies. This has long been understood in the region, but the pandemic has brought these issues into sharper focus.
ICT in Education Leadership
In 2012, UNESCO, in partnership with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the Commonwealth Secretariat (ComSec) and Microsoft brought together 73 Education policy leaders and stakeholders, including 12 Permanent Secretaries from across Commonwealth Caribbean countries and territories to host a forum on ICT in education leadership. The report acknowledged that “teachers play an important role in preparing the next generation workforce”. It acknowledged that new skills will be needed for the future and to help learners develop these skills, the region has to start with teachers, who through their work, prepare and empower the future generations.
The Caribbean Telecommunications Union more recently in September 2021, held its annual ICT Week which included a Ministerial Forum that brought together ministers and technical advisors from its 20 Member States, technology experts and other ICT stakeholders under the theme “Regional Imperatives for Digital Transformation Post-COVID-19”. The forum examined a wide range of issues around public health, tourism, business innovation, regional travel, and the ICT regulatory policies needed to support regional economic recovery post-COIVD-19.
Notably, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has also embarked on Giga, a global project to connect schools. Launched in 2019, Giga sets the goal of providing connectivity to every school in the world. Some 3.6 billion people in the world do not have access to the Internet. The lack of access to the Internet means exclusion, marked by the lack of access to the wealth of information available online, fewer resources to learn and to grow, and limited opportunities for the most vulnerable children and youth to fulfill their potential.
Given the aforementioned challenges and the critical need for ICT in Education to assist in meeting some of the challenges, it is an opportune time to revisit this issue and support the efforts of regional governments to ensure that education remains inclusive and that the most vulnerable in society are not further disadvantaged by access to education as a result of the lack of access to technology. Therefore, the CTU proposes a partnership with UNESCO and other key stakeholders to host a regional forum on ICT in Education in January 2022. The purpose would be to discuss the current challenges and develop policy recommendations on the way forward.
ICT in Education: A Caribbean Forum – Objectives
The forum is intended to convene representatives of the major stakeholders in the field of education and technology in the Caribbean. This includes policy makers, regulators, operators, academia and other users.
The key areas of focus include, but are not limited to:
- Reviewing the outcomes of the 2012 ICT in Education Leadership Forum and determine their relevance to current regional approaches;
- Considering a regionally harmonised ICT in Education policy framework to address current and anticipated future challenges;
- Reviewing UNESCO’s ICT Competency Framework for Teachers and agree on applicable standards and integrate these in overarching ICT in Education plans;
- Developing potential partnerships to address the disparities in internet access and access to technological devices and looking for opportunities for regional joint-procurement in this regard;
- Examining strategies and programmes aimed at proving affordable connectivity to schools; and
- Considering other related social issues, such as online learning and its impact on mental health.
The forum is intended to allow for the sharing of information on mutual objectives with respect to technology and education and to facilitate greater regional collaboration. It will also facilitate networking opportunities with technology providers and look at possible solutions to support the implementation of practical policies.
A consolidated report on the most pressing regional challenges in this policy area; List of priority interventions to support government policies and plans;
High-level recommendations on longer-term interventions that will be needed; Recommended partnerships to address technological inequity; and
A framework for systematic collaboration amongst key stakeholders.
Government Policy Makers in Education, Social Development and ICT, Industry Equipment and Service Suppliers
Academic Researchers ICT Industry Associations
Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU)
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Cluster Office for the Caribbean
International Telecommunication Union (ITU)REGISTER
WEDNESDAY 26TH JANUARY 2022
|Theme 1: Progress in Education using ICTs – Outcomes of the Caribbean Leadership Forum
This session will examine the main outcomes of the ICT in Education Leadership Forum held in Barbados in 2012 and review the progress made since.
|9:00 – 9:05 a.m.||Opening Remarks||Mr. Rodney Taylor
Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU)
|9:05 – 9:10 a.m.||Greetings
|Mr. Sylvester Cadette
International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Caribbean Countries
|9:10 – 9:30 a.m.||Presentation||Dr. Carlos Vargas Tamez
Head of the Secretariat of the International Task Force for Teachers for Education 2030
|9:30 – 9:45 a.m.||Video Presentation||H.E. Dr. Didacus Jules
Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
|PANEL DISCUSSION : Current perspective on ICT in Education|
|9:45 – 10:45 a.m||· Mr. Nigel Cassimire – Moderator
|· Ms. Bernadette Lewis
Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation
|· Dr. Carlos Vargas Tamez|
|OECS Digital Learning Ecosystem||· Mr. Germain Anthony
Technical Specialist – Education
Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
|10:45 – 11:00 a.m.||Coffee Break|
|Theme 2: UNESCO ICT Competency Framework
This session will look at UNESCO’s Competency Framework and its applicability to the Caribbean
|11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.||· Mr. Victor J. Perez-Rubio
Programme Coordinator at UNESCO Education Sector
|· Dr. Eduardo Ali
Pro Registrar and Deputy CEO
Caribbean Examinations Council
|· Mr. Robert Guiste
Senior Education Officer Measurement, Evaluation and Curriculum, Ministry of Education, Dominica
|12:00 – 12:05 p.m.||Wrap up of Day 1|
THURSDAY 27TH JANUARY, 2022
|Theme 3: Smart Classrooms – The Future of Education
This session will look at technology platforms deployed in response to COVID-19 and examine the fundamental ICT components (connectivity, devices, digital content) required to successfully deliver online education.
|9:00 – 9:05 a.m. AST||Welcome||Moderator: Mr. Trevor Prevatt
Director, Stakeholder Engagement, CTU
|9:05 – 9:20 a.m. AST||Overview on the GIGA Project||· Ms. Michelle Marius
GIGA Caribbean Region Project Officer
|9:20 – 9:40 a.m AST||Google Classroom – ICT Learning Platform||· Mr. Sabino Garcia
Manager – Google Workspace for Education
|9:40 – 10:20 a.m. AST||Promoting Education Through Satellite Connectivity: A Jamaica Case Study.||· Mr. Michael Lubin
Vice President – Corporate Development, Viasat
· Mr. Chris Dehring
Chief Executive Officer, ReadyNet
· Dr. Maria Myers-Hamilton
Managing Director of the Spectrum
Management Authority, Jamaica
|10:20 – 10:30 a.m. AST||Interactive Q&A||· Mr. Trevor Prevatt, CTU|
|10:30 – 10:45 a.m. AST||Yellarcation- A Social Educational Experience||· Mr. Akhenaton LaBorde
|Theme 4: Socio-Cultural Considerations
This session will look at the impact of online education on mental health and consider other issues such as Child Online Protection.
|10:45 – 11:00 a.m. AST||The Mental Health Impact of Online Learning||Ms. Alicia Hoyte
Clinical Psychologist, Trinidad and Tobago
|11:00 – 11:15 a.m. AST||Q&A||Moderator: Josanne Leonard
|11:15 a.m – 12:15 p.m AST||Moderator: Mr. Junior McIntyre, CTU|
|Child Online Protection||· Mr. Deon Olton, ITU Representative|
|NorthGate College EduFLEX: Considerations and Lessons Learnt||· Ms. Yolande Pierre
Director, NorthGate College, Trinidad and Tobago
|The Impact of Online Education- Parent Perspective||· Mr. Dharamrajh Ramdass
Director, Restore a Sense of I Can, Trinidad and Tobago
|12:15 – 12:25 p.m. AST||Interactive open Q&A||Moderator: Mr. Junior McIntyre, CTU|
|12:25– 12:35 p.m. AST||Vote of Thanks and Closing
|· Mr. Rodney Taylor
|· Mr. Sylvester Cadette
Programme Officer, ITU, Caribbean Countries
|Mr. Robert Guiste, Senior Education Officer, Measurement, Evaluation and Curriculum, Ministry of Education, Dominica||ICT in Education - A Caribbean Forum - Dominica ICT In Education – Status, Successes and Challenges|
|Dr Eduardo Ali, Pro-Registrar and Deputy CEO, Caribbean Examinations Council||ICT in Education - A Caribbean Forum - CXC’s Perspective|
|Mr. Germain Anthony, Technical Specialist - Education, OECS||OECS Digital Learning Ecosystem|
|Ms. Michelle Marius||Overview on the GIGA Project|
|Mr. Sabino Garcia||Google Classroom – ICT Learning Platform|
|Mr. Michael Lubin||Promoting Education Through Satellite Connectivity: A Jamaica Case Study|
|Ms. Alicia Hoyte||The Mental Health Impact of Online Learning|
|Mr. Deon Olton||Child Online Protection|
|Ms. Yolande Pierre||NorthGate College EduFLEX: Considerations and Lessons Learnt|