Cover Image
close this bookTeacher Education in Trinidad & Tobago: Costs, Financing and Future Policy (CIE, 2002, 40 p.)
close this folderChapter 2: The Teacher Education System
View the document2.1 Overview
View the document2.2 Output
View the document2.3 The Delivery of the Curriculum
View the document2.4 Costs of Training in the Colleges

2.1 Overview

Training programmes for teachers at all levels of the educational system are offered at specialised institutions. The growing demand for early childhood education teachers has resulted in programmes being offered by the SERVOL Regional Training and Resource Centre, a non-governmental organisation, and the School of Continuing Studies (SOCS) and the School of Education of the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine. Training for teachers at the primary level is conducted largely at the two government Teachers' Colleges: Valsayn and Corinth Teachers' Colleges. A small amount of training also occurs at the School of Education, UWI and the privately operated Caribbean Union College. Although the programme of teacher training offered at the Teachers' Colleges is designed to equip the students for practice at the primary level, some students, especially those who have specialised in the areas of the Creative Arts, are allowed to teach at the lower levels of the secondary school system.

Training for teachers at the secondary level is conducted at the School of Education, UWI. A specialised programme for teachers of agricultural science is offered at the Agricultural Teacher Education Centre (ATEC) of the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Agriculture and Forestry (ECIAF). In addition, technical teacher training is offered at the John S. Donaldson Technical Institute. Almost all the initial teacher training is in-service.

Applicants for entry into the teaching service are expected to have at least a secondary level education, with the attainment of a satisfactory level of achievement in five subjects at the GCE O-level and/or CXC examinations. Further, these five subjects must include English language, mathematics and a science subject. It is not part of the requirement that these five subjects be obtained at any one sitting of these examinations. It is therefore possible to qualify for entry into the service by accumulating these subjects over an extended period of time.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 candidates take CXC examinations each year in the major subjects of English and mathematics. Pass rates in these subjects are between 30% and 40%, suggesting that perhaps 5,000 per year achieve the minimum qualifications for entry to primary teacher training (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, 1998a)6. This is well above current capacity and implies that Colleges can be selective over who they enroll.

6 Generally, the ‘better’ qualified persons choose more lucrative jobs in the public service and private enterprise, and the residual are employed in the teaching service. This therefore means that entrants to teaching include the least qualified, along with some who genuinely want to teach and enter the profession better qualified.

In 1993, the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the National Training Board, introduced its On-the-Job Training (OJT) Pre-Service Teacher Training Programme. The rationale for this programme was to provide CXC and A Level graduates with employment and training with a view to enabling the Ministry to identify trainees with good potential for becoming teachers. Government schools and denominational authorities identify suitable applicants and propose them to the Ministry, which selects those thought to be acceptable within an overall target number.

The OJT programme extends over a period of about one year. It provides some instruction in the Foundations of Education, the Teaching of Reading and the Teaching of Mathematics. This is followed by placement in schools with mentor teachers. Trainees are required to attend Saturday classes which are designed to meet their needs. A Vacation School is also organised by the School of Continuing Studies of the University of the West Indies to provide experiences in the aesthetic area. To date no evaluation of the effectiveness of the OJT system has yet been conducted. MUSTER has conducted a separate sub-study on aspects of the OJT programme.

The OJT system and the supporting workshops are not undertaken with any input from the Colleges of Education. Workshops for OJTs are conducted by teachers employed specifically for the purpose. They follow a programme which is not linked to College work and which may therefore overlap with subsequent College training. College staff play no role in the selection process for OJTs, or in their subsequent allocation to Colleges for training which is handled centrally in the Ministry of Education.

In summary, students entering primary Teachers’ Colleges have usually have two to three years of teaching experience in a primary school or, in the case of a small number of students, in a secondary school. Available data suggest that about 60% of entrants have between 2 and 3 years experience in schools before entering the college-based training programme. Nearly 40% have more than three years. Students are selected by the Board of Teacher Training on the basis of seniority in the teaching service and sent to the colleges on scholarship. This seniority is determined by length of continuous service in the teaching. Trainees are required to sign a contract on initial entry and, after their two-year tenure at college, they must serve the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for at least two additional years after qualifying. Student teachers are employees of the Ministry of Education and are paid full salaries during training.

Table 6 provides data on enrolment, by gender, in Teacher Training Colleges during the period 1990/91 - 1994/95. There has been a steady increase in the number of students enrolled in these institutions over the period shown. Corinth Teachers' College, which had been closed, was re-opened to cope with increasing numbers in 1994. Typically, the number of female students far exceeds the number of male students.

Table 6: Training College Enrolment 1990-95


Govt

Private

Total


M

F

T

M

F

T

M

F

T

1990/91

129

276

405

1

3

4

130

279

409

1991/92

117

304

421

1

9

10

118

313

431

1992/93

168

371

539

3

13

16

171

384

555

1993/94

209

442

651

3

10

13

212

452

664

1994/95

340

372

712

-

-

-

340

372

712

Data for 1999 indicate that Valsayn had 197 students in the first year and 207 in the second. Corinth has 201 and 186 totalling 791 in training. Over two-thirds of trainees are female (1998).

In 1995, there were 38 teacher educators in Valsayn Teachers' College of whom 17 were male and 21 female. All members of staff had professional qualifications, and there were 22 with postgraduate degrees, of whom 9 were male and 13 female. In 1998 in Corinth 20 out of 29 were female and eight had post-graduate degrees. The 1998 establishment for the two teacher training Colleges provide for 38 lecturers at Valsayn College and 28 at Corinth. Valsayn had 32 lecturers in post in 1999 and Corinth 27, with two on sick leave (Table 7).

Table 7: Staff and Trainees and Staff-student Ratios 1999.


Lecturers

Trainees

Staff-student Ratio

Valsayn

32

404

12.6

Corinth

28

387

14.3

The School of Education, UWI, St. Augustine offers teacher education programmes for different levels in the educational system with different levels of qualification. The four major programmes offered are the Certificate in Education (Cert. Ed.)7, the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.), the Diploma in Education (Dip.Ed.), and Higher degree programmes. Only the Diploma can be regarded as initial training, since the other courses require applicants to be trained teachers8.

7 The certificate programme is not initial professional training. Applicants must possess the Teachers’ Diploma or equivalent from the Teachers’ Colleges. The Cert. Ed. (UWI) is counted as Yr. 1 (Level I – L1) of the B. Ed. Programme. Students may choose to terminate their professional training here if they wish – there is no policy that encourages them to go on. However, they are free to go on for two more years to LII & LIII to complete the B. Ed.

8 The difference between the Dip. Ed. and TC students are that the former is on one-day release during the term while the latter are on full-time release. Some of the Dip. Ed. students carry full teaching loads while on the programme. Further, the Dip. Ed. students are also released during the last week of each of the Xmas and Easter Terms, and are also asked to attend classes in the first week of the Xmas and Easter vacations. Four of their six weeks of the July/August vacation are used at the start of the programme

The Diploma in Education programme provides professional training for teachers who hold university degrees and who are teaching at the secondary level. It is organized on an in-service basis. This programme normally lasts for one calendar year. The students, who must be working full-time in an educational institution in Trinidad and Tobago, undertake supervised practice (normally 20 weeks) during the calendar year, and attend the university during the vacation and in term time. Assessment is by means of a combination of university examinations, written assignments, and practical assessment of teaching competence. There has been a steady increase in enrolment in the Diploma each year, resulting in enrolment increasing from 85 in 1993/94 to 144 in 1996/97. Students on this course do not receive salaries and have to finance themselves and pay subsidised tuition costs. Graduates from this course are not guaranteed employment in the school system. Table 8 shows the output of graduates from 1992-1997.

Table 8: Graduates of the School of Education, UWI, St. Augustine by Programme and Gender, 1992/93 - 1996/97

Year

Bachelors

Certificate

Diploma

Higher Degrees


m

f

t

m

f

t

m

f

t

m

f

t

1992/93

-

-

-

na

na

35

na

na

92

Na

na

8

1993/94

9

25

34

15

29

44

24

56

80

4

1

5

1994/95

2

7

9

13

35

48

26

61

87

3

4

7

1995/96

1

5

6

11

34

45

30

90

120

1

2

3

1996/97

8

17

25

62

18

80

27

71

128

1

3

4

NA = Not Available

The most recent data from Corinth College indicate some of the characteristics of trainees (Tables 9 and 10). About 42% are under 25 years, 41% between 25 and 29 and 17% are over 30. The majority of trainees have CXC and O Level passes. About 37% have one or more A Level passes. Females are marginally better qualified than males (50% with an A level cf 45%).

Table 9: Age Profile of Trainee Teachers at Corinth 1998

Age

Year1

Year2

Total


Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

All

20-24

21

54

18

68

39

122

161

25-29

36

60

24

38

60

98

158

30-34

7

12

4

24

11

36

47

35-39

3

7

1

8

4

15

19

40+


1


1

0

2

2








387

Table 10: Qualifications of Trainees at Corinth 1998

Qualification

Year1

Year2

Total


Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

All

5 GCE/CXC O Levels; 2 A Levels

18

40

15

46

33

86

119

5 GCE/CXC O Levels; 1 A Level

2

9

5

8

7

17

24

5 GCE/CXC O Levels

45

87

27

85

72

172

244








387

Some insight into the characteristics of College staff can be obtained from an analysis of those at Corinth (Figure 4).


Figure 4: Age profile of Staff - Corinth

College staff can retire after 33.3 years service or the after the age of 60 whichever is sooner. Retirement is an option for those over 55 with reduced pension rights if they have not completed sufficient years of service. The age structure of staff at Corinth shows that more than a third had reached the age of 50 by 1998