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Caribbean partners produce learning recovery and enhancement program in Caribbean schools

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Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2021. 3:17 pm CST.

Photo Credit: Ministry of Education

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Three Caribbean organizations have partnered to produce a program to ensure learning recovery and enhancement in Caribbean schools impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to CARICOM TODAY, the roadmap to recovery entitled Let’s REAP: Learning Recovery and Enhancement Programme for Principals was put together through a partnership that involved the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The document was presented in a recently held virtual ceremony to the Chair of the Council for Human and Social Development, Jeffery Lloyd, Minister of Education of the Bahamas.

“This is needed if principals and schools are to be actualized as agents of educational reform and social transformation,” said Dr Laurette Bristol, Program Manager for Human Resource Development at the CARICOM Secretariat.

The idea behind the program is that principals identify ways and means for a learning recovery after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and forge ahead by enhancing education so students in the Caribbean can get back on track.

The Let’s REAP: Learning Recovery and Enhancing Programme for Caribbean Schools recognizes that schools cannot function in isolation, but rather need to operate within principles of inter-connectivity, inter-subjectivity and interoperability.

Like any other program, the collaborating partners said that the roadmap is not enough, that “a strong disposition, attitudes and skills for communication, collaboration, problem solving and networking” are necessary for it to work.

In her statement during the ceremony, Dr Bristol said the CDB, CARICOM, OECS Let’s REAP improved on the Academic Recovery Programme that was put together by the OECS.

The Learning Recovery and Enhancement Programme for Caribbean Schools emphasizes nine points including leadership, accountability, management, and communication. It expects that principals and schools will collaborate through what it calls communities of practice that establish structures to monitor and report student-learning outcomes.

Minister Lloyd applauded the timeliness and relevance of the program and said principals and teachers should follow the 3Ds of the teaching-learning process: Diagnostics, Differentiation, and Dialogue.

According to CARICOM TODAY, Dr Martin Baptiste, Senior Education Specialist with the Caribbean Development Bank said diagnostics identifies where students are positioned in the educational ladder through assessments and testing. He said differentiation has to do with engaging every student in the teaching-learning process addressing their unique and idiosyncratic needs, while dialogue involves the importance of communities of practice where schools, teachers and principals organize regular discussions in order to improve students’ learning.

As schools reopen throughout the Caribbean, Lloyd said the education sector cannot afford to operate as before.

“Following large periods of closures, students are going to return to what some suggest are uneven levels of learning and skills. In fact, some students may not return at all, especially those from disadvantaged background,” Lloyd said. That has already been expressed to Belize’s Minister of Education Francis Fonseca by principals here.

He added that measuring learning levels “will prove more important than ever,” and employing the 3Ds of the teaching-learning process will be crucial.

Presenting a different perspective, the Director for Human and Social Development at the CARICOM Secretariat, Helen Royer said it’s not use crying over spilt milk, but rather we need to transform education.

“The time come has for us to stop speaking about what the COVID 19 Pandemic did to social systems, including education and start articulating the crisis of opportunity that was and is the pandemic,” Royer said.

“We are not returning to a normal, that was quite frankly very inequitable, but building back better; designing education delivery that is innovative, enabling the recovery, transformation and improvement of Caribbean livelihoods.”

Royer added that the school should be envisioned as a center of excellence interconnected with other social institutions, including the home and the church.

“It is about changing the DNA of the school as an enterprise for learning, where there is the technology of teaching excellence – driven by professional practice as the means by which we are going to recover the learning loss and engender and mainstream excellence in our teaching learning process,” said Baptiste adding that schools must focus on maximizing the 5-6 hour of daily contact with students.

The next step is to get the roadmap to the principals and for them to start its implementation.

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