|On-the-Job Training: Pre-Service Teacher Training in Trinidad & Tobago (CIE, 2000, 35 p.)|
|7. The Curriculum|
During 1999, the programme experienced some basic changes. An assistant coordinator was employed to work full-time with the programme, and this has led to changes in the curriculum and to some of the procedures.
Previously, the curriculum was basically a framework and tutors were free to develop and formulate their coursework as they saw fit. There was no collaboration among tutors in the various Districts. However, a more structured curriculum has been developed, which has been vetted by Curriculum Officers of the Ministry of Education and some staff from the teachers' colleges. Workshops were organised for tutors and discussions preceded the implementation of the programme. Teaching sessions are now supervised by the APC who intends to have first-hand knowledge of the teaching/learning process. Persons who have worked as science and social studies facilitators in the Ministry of Education have been given first preference as tutors in the Districts, because of their knowledge of the primary school curriculum and their involvement in the schools in their areas.
There is now one standard examination for all the trainees. Previously, there were eight different examinations with each District being responsible for its own examination. The only commonality was the day on which the examination was written. The primary school trainee continues to write two examinations, and a written examination has been introduced for the secondary school trainee. The portfolio and its contents, and criteria for marking, have also been adjusted and organised in such a way that the secondary school trainee will have an opportunity to demonstrate both the theoretical and practical knowledge gained from the training programmes.
The examination questions have now been standardised and the examination scripts are team-marked by a group of tutors. As a result of the new approach to examinations, the APC has found that there is a tendency for tutors to be more vigilant and to pay closer attention to trainee preparation.
A consideration of spiritual values has been included in the programme, and the Denominational Boards have been invited to play a lead role in the formulation and implementation of this aspect of the programme. This has been identified as an important component of the curriculum and efforts have been made to ensure that it is properly planned and implemented.
The computer programme has also been restructured and standardised in terms of the course content and the system of marking. Tutors have been trained and marking has been standardised. Previously, there was some level of discrepancy in that tutors used varying marking systems.
The APC has begun field visits to the schools in all the Districts, including Tobago. This has allowed the officer to evaluate the lessons taught and to communicate with the trainees and the school administration. He has also met the mentor teachers and the principals in small District groups and updated them on the aims and objectives of the programme. This involvement of all the stakeholders is intended to improve the quality of the programme and to ensure that the goals and objectives are being met. An instrument for school visits has been designed and developed, and is being used by the APC who is being assisted by an officer who has been involved in the programme over a long period of time, and who has acted unofficially when there was no appointed APC.
The final marking system has been changed to ensure that certificates display the levels of competence in the three areas: professional development, theory, and practice teaching. Certificates of excellence have been introduced into the certification process. The three students who gain the highest marks overall are now being rewarded with certificates of excellence. There are also plans to award certificates to students for excellence in terms of regularity and punctuality, and involvement in the programme.
The lack of funds still continues to plague the programme and, recently, the amount allocated was further reduced. The shortage of programme personnel and the low stipend paid to the tutors are two factors that have been, and continue to be, of concern to the PC.