The Ministry of Education & Youth, Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC), is hosting its third staging of the National Forum for Innovations in Teaching (FIT), over three (3) days, Thursday- Saturday, January 25 -27, 2024 under the theme “Celebrating Achievements and Re-imagining Education for the 21st Society and Labour Force”, as part of the recognition and celebration of excellence in the Teaching Profession.
The COVID pandemic, catapult societies far into the digital space. There was no lack of awareness of online opportunities, but there was equally no hurry to change or to reimagine traditional practices. The drastic reduction in face-to-face possibilities gave rise to innovations and strategies to continue services and production. Education was hard hit as classrooms were no longer bordered by four walls. The spatial difference was daunting for both teachers and students. The inefficiency of the digital environment, moribund by costs and availability of digital services, energized the education system and catalysed innovations of varying types and proportions.
At the start of the COVID pandemic, the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC), immediately advanced its teacher empowerment programmes for effective practice in the digital workspace. Teacher cooperation was impressive, within three months, over 21,000 teachers (90%) had received initial and advanced training for building their competencies in on-line practices for the delivery of their lessons. JTC rented mobile internet services for schools that were too remote to benefit from the traditional internet service providers. Such services also benefited the wider school communities. Schools without access to the internet were amazingly creative. Some teachers used blank walls in the villages to leave learning activities for the students, some rode motor cycles to deliver and collect the work of students. The level of commitment of teachers was extraordinary.
Technical and Vocational Education was hardest hit. How does one replace workbenches and machines in the digital space?
Other teachers designed videos to guide their students. Teachers prepared students through on-line sessions for the regional examinations and students did very well.
With passing of the COVID pandemic, the blended approach to teaching is becoming institutionalized. Some teachers can move effortlessly between the digital space and face-to-face classes, others are still challenged.
The COVID pandemic, motivated entrepreneurship in education. Many educators saw opportunities for online teaching programmes, some of which provide teaching and learning in areas for which teachers are not readily available. Educators are creating lesson plans and uploading them to the digital space.
With the progress made, there are “two sides to the story.” How do we inspire our learners to: a) generate new knowledge and, b) upload such knowledge to the digital space? The Jamaican environment is rich with ideas and possibilities. There is much more for the education system to unearth from our plants and animals. Solar energy production has enormous potential for driving production. Agriculture is still prime for experimentation.
It is now 60 years since Jamaica achieved Independence.
Since then, education has been through several phases of development, each having positive outcomes. In the sixty’s Jamaica saw New Deal in education, focusing on literacy. The Thrusts of the seventy’s brought new focus on technical and Vocational education progressing into the eighty’s. Secondary education, now ended at Grade 11 with a Terminal examination, the Secondary Schools Certificate (SSC). The Human Employment and Resource Training created massive access for school leavers to continue their education into the technical fields and to become workplace ready. Implementation continued into the ninety’s and in 2000 Jamaica embarked on a nationwide study of the education sector with a view to drastically reform the way education was governed, managed, implemented, and evaluated. The final report of 2004 formed the basis of a 10-year development programme, identified as the Education System Transformation Programme (ESTP). The Programme aimed to decentralize the operations of the Central Ministry into strategically framed agencies to focus on various aspects of education. Among the agencies are The Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC), The National Education Inspectorate (NEI), The National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL), The National Parenting Commission (NPC), The National Education Trust (NET), and the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commissions (JTEC). National Curriculum reform has its own space while the Ministry seeks to create a programme for post grade 11 described as Career Advancement Programme (CAP), later morphed into a full Sixth Form programme for students in secondary schools.
Jamaica embarked on another review of the Education Sector Transformation Initiative in 2020 and is in the process of implementing the recommendations.
In the meantime, social behaviours in the Jamaican society changed. There has been an increase in criminal activities as robbery and the wanton murder of adults and children, costing the Country and shaking the very foundation of economic independence and stability.
In face of all the challenges, one cannot deny that Jamaica has a wealth of unexplored resources and our learners have been exploring new products, processes, and services. Many institutions have been engaged in activities leading to livelihood skills and competencies. Programmes have expanded and Technical and Vocational Education has been given a new impetus.
The Advancement into the 4th and 5th industrial revolutions have seen more machines in the day-to-day workplace forging a working relationship between man and machine.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has opened opportunities for more engaging classrooms, more equitable opportunities in education and has the potential for a multiplier effect of excellent teachers. More learners will have opportunity to be exposed to outstanding teachers.
This Third Forum for Innovations in Teaching (FIT3) will.
- Celebrate over 60 years of education.
- Reimagine education in the 21st century and
It will create a space that will permit the exhibition of the innovations in teaching and supporting infrastructure through:
- Dialogue to exchange of ideas.
- Panel discussions and
- Recognition and Awards for outstanding innovations in teaching and learning
Technical and Vocational Education as the foundation for a highly skilled and competent population, will be given centre stage. The teaching profession and teachers are enabled by various businesses and manufacturing segments of the society and international agencies. Such partners will be invited to participate.
Recent technologies have opened a vast array of opportunities in teaching and learning, enabling teachers to serve better the call for diversified teaching and equity in the education system. FIT3 will offer space to traditional and non-traditional partners to expose their support to teachers and the education industry. Private sector will also be invited to make exclusive offers and concessions to teachers in commemoration of World Teachers’ Day, 2024
The three-day Forum will be held at the National Arena during 25 to 27 January 2024. It will comprise an exposition with exhibits mounted by:
- Teachers and their students in Parishes and QECs
- Partners in education.
- Ministry of Education and Information
- Agencies of the Ministry of Education
- Teacher training institutions and departments
- Specialized colleges
- Community Colleges
- Ministry of Culture, Gender, Sports, and Entertainment
- Tourism Industry
- Business and manufacturing
The event will culminate in a Tribute to Teachers Concert on 27th January.
It is proposed that that the Forum be held under the distinguished patronage of the Governor General. The opening ceremony should take place at 2:00pm on January 25, 2024. The Exhibition should be opened by the Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica.
All the regions, organized in parishes and Quality Education Circles (QEC) of the Education system, will be invited to highlight their innovations in education in their respective booths. All agencies of the Ministry of Education and institutions are expected to participate. These will include, but not limited to; e-Learning, Overseas Examinations, Teachers’ Colleges, and other higher education institutions offering teacher education, Jamaica library Service (JLS), HEART/NTA, Nutrition Products Limited and Early Childhood Commission in addition to all new agencies.
Each entity staging an exhibition will be required to pay an entry fee and meet the full costs for the exhibition, as well as respect the rules of the Arena.
Themes and plenary hours will be planned, and information made widely available. On each day, there will be two major panel discussions on key issues in education and directions towards achieving 2030 national goals. Main sponsors will be invited to participate on the discussion panels.
The Exhibition will be viewed throughout the three days. The focus will be on teachers and the teaching profession underpinning education as life and livelihoods.
Innovations in Technical Vocational Education and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) will form the centrepiece.
Schools will display innovations in Literacy and other subjects of the curriculum. Special projects supported by private sector organizations and agencies will be exhibited. The private sector will also exhibit enabling technology and services to education. Service agencies of the Ministry will exhibit their client services. Tertiary institutions supporting development in any of the areas of focus will mount their individual displays.
Entertainment will be provided primarily by educational institutions. There will be entertainment slots on the programme and various institutions will be invited to perform.
- A public viewing of innovations and achievements in teaching and learning in the digital space.
- A platform for exchange of experiences and promotion of new insights
- Interactive discussions for educators and non-educators.
- Public recognition for achievements in teaching and learning
- Public will have first-hand knowledge of Phase 2 transformation of the education system.