The One Laptop Per Teacher (OLPT) initiative is just another tier in Government’s push to contextualise and implement teachers’ professional development in Information Communication Technology (ICT) in education.ICT Coordinator in the Ministry of Education, Marcia Thomas, in a recent interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), explained that teachers were, for years, being trained to use the laptop and to harness other ICT tools to effectively support high quality teaching and learning in schools.
Today, therefore, when persons ask if teachers are ready for the OLPT project, Thomas said, the answer is in the affirmative.
“Yes! Because we have been doing continuous training of teachers, preparing them for this,” she said.
Thomas explained that this training process started in 2009 with collaboration among the following entities: the ICT Unit in the Ministry of Education; the Commonwealth of Learning (COL); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO); and Microsoft, the American Multinational Technology.
The COL is an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to promote the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.
When the Ministry first started the training, “people said that the teachers do not have computers, why are you bringing them to NCERD (National Center for Educational Resource Development) to train them in the laboratories?” Thomas explained. “But we were training then, waiting for this kind of project (One Laptop per Teacher) to happen,” she said.
In 2009, recognising that the local teachers were not trained or up-to-date on the use of ICT, the Ministry of Education contracted local experts in ICT from the University of Guyana (UG), and sought permission from Microsoft to use materials for them to create the first set of training manuals for the Basic Computer Literacy level.
Once the manuals were completed, 23 master trainers were trained in the delivery of the content. These master trainers were senior IT teachers from the secondary level, with degrees in computer science from UG and a Trained Teachers’ Certificate from the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).
Thomas pointed out that these 23 trainers successfully conducted training of teachers in their respective regions, resulting in over 7,000 out of a targeted 12,000 teachers being trained in basic computer literacy.
Thomas further explained that, in 2011, the Ministry embarked on the second tier of the training — to deepen the knowledge of those that excelled in the first tier of training. The ICT Coordinator explained that 200 out of the original 7,000 teachers trained in the first tier were targeted in lessons that sought to integrate and apply ICT, such as PowerPoint, into the lessons in the classroom. The teachers were also trained to create apps, Thomas said.
These interventions have not only prepared the teachers for the OLPT project, but the concentrated effort has, over time, seen improvement in the Secondary School Examinations of ICT and Electronic Document Preparation Management (EDPM) move from just about 20 percent to approximately 85 percent. The master trainers are now involved in a master class to become ICT experts.
Today, the ministry is seeking to build on the advantage gained in its ICT professional strategy for its teachers, and is now embarking on a third tier of professional training.