The shortage of teachers will be exacerbated in the upcoming academic year since many of them will be attending the Teacher Training Department at Antigua State College as the Ministry of Education attempts to fulfil its goal of having every teacher trained by 2013.
“This year, we have many persons who will be entering teacher training. It means therefore that we will have to redeploy teachers,” Director of Education Jacintha Pringle said.
She added that the ministry is not in a position to bring on board a significant number of new teachers. Some teachers from the junior secondary schools will be redeployed to the secondary schools where necessary.
“The persons that we employ should already have been teacher trained. We will employ preferably persons who have degrees already. In other words, the content is there; all they will have to get is the pedagogy.”
Pringle added that for the first time Barbudan teachers will not have to venture to Antigua to be trained. Beginning this year, teacher training will be conducted in Barbuda, in collaboration with what is being done here.
“It was very difficult for Barbudans to come to Antigua to be teacher trained. With the cost of living as it is they found it difficult to pay rent, to live somewhere. They had to leave their families and they had to leave their children,” Pringle said. “We want to bring some ease to that situation.”
The logistics of this arrangement are still being worked out.
Meanwhile, Pringle added that the Junior Secondary schools in Antigua & Barbuda will be discontinued after next year as the ministry pushes for Universal Secondary Education.
“This year is the last year that we are going to have Junior Secondary School students. We are moving towards Universal Secondary Education. When a student reaches Grade Six, they will automatically transition into secondary school,” she said. Pringle added that she recognises that there is a downside to taking such steps. She said Universal Secondary Education is not always easy as sometimes the product is compromised.
“We do not want our young students to believe that they do not have to work hard. We do not want students moving to secondary school not being able to negotiate secondary school work.”
According to Pringle, even though students will automatically be placed in secondary schools, the ministry will not do away with the Common Entrance Exam. “It would be used as a kind of placement test,” she said. “We may have to organise children into levels where high academic fliers may be (put) one place and you go down the line, but everybody certainly will go to a secondary school.”