|On-the-Job Training: Pre-Service Teacher Training in Trinidad & Tobago (CIE, 2000, 35 p.)|
All indications are that the OJT Pre-Service Teacher Training Programme is making an impact on the preparedness of young, untrained teachers for the classroom. It is evident, though, that the system is not operating as efficiently as it might, due to lack of proper coordination among its various components. In addition, the insufficiency of funds needed to implement the programme and the lack of the necessary staff to manage the programme affect the levels of efficiency. It appears that the programme was set up without adequate understandings of what it would require in terms of infrastructure, and staff training and preparation for its efficient and effective functioning.
One of the major, pressing needs of the programme is a computerised database to manage the wealth of information that is generated. Because of the absence of such a database, it is exceedingly difficult to obtain quantitative data on the programme. There is a need for accessible records on the trainees, principals, mentor teachers and tutors, and the costs of running the programme, so that policy decisions could be based on evaluation data and not merely on perceptions.
Mentoring and monitoring are key ingredients of the programme. If the programme is to achieve its full potential, standards must be set. Mentor teachers and monitors (principals and DCs) need to be properly trained, and tutors need to collaborate with each other in order to create a standard curriculum. Mentor teachers also need to work in closer collaboration with the tutors. The new ACP has begun involving personnel from the teachers' colleges in the design of the programme. This is a most welcome step since it can open the door for collaboration between OJT personnel and the teachers' colleges. But, for deeper collaboration to result, the links with the teachers' colleges should be also made at the administrative level, and not simply at the level of individual college lecturers.
The original aim that the OJT programme should help to identify those young people who have the potential to become good teachers is perhaps not being met. This is so because, alarmingly, there is as yet no official link between the OJT programme and the teachers' college programme. Exposure to the OJT programme is not now a prerequisite for entry into the teachers' colleges, nor does a student's performance affect their chances of being accepted for training. Furthermore, individuals who have not been exposed to the OJT programme continue to be appointed as untrained teachers in the schools and, apparently, this practice is most widespread among the Denominational Board schools. If the OJT programme is to serve its original purpose as a filter, the appropriate linkages must be established in the system. In addition, the programme would need to be expanded (rather than curtailed), since the annual intake into the teachers' colleges is at least 400 while the annual graduating class from the OJT programme is, typically, less than 300 in number.
The 1999/2000 programme has benefited from the addition of a retired school supervisor who is assisting the APC on a part-time basis. The present ACP has begun supervising the trainees and doing school visits. This seems a most onerous task for one person. It also means that not very many visits can be made. There is, therefore, need for more, properly trained staff to monitor the trainees at the school level, as it is difficult for the SSs and principals, who already have a heavy workload, to perform this function.
Computerisation and staffing would necessitate the provision of additional funds. The amount of money allocated to the programme is decreasing. It seems as though the aim of addressing the unemployment problem dominated the thinking at the inception of the programme, with the result that considerations of the requirements for sustained funding of a quality pre-service programme were not as prominent. The time is right for such considerations.
The discussion papers are downloadable from the following web