|On-the-Job Training: Pre-Service Teacher Training in Trinidad & Tobago (CIE, 2000, 35 p.)|
|4. Background of the Programme|
A National Symposium on Employment Generation and Job Creation was held in Trinidad and Tobago in 1992. This national symposium, organised by the government, was a response to the high level of unemployment in the country at the time. One of the outcomes of the symposium was the creation of the On-the-Job Training Programme. This programme was a national apprenticeship programme designed to provide working experience for young persons in various fields.
The Ministry of Education saw the creation of the OJT programme as an opportunity to sensitise young people with Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), GCE O-level, and GCE A-level qualifications about the teaching profession, and to begin to groom them for possible employment in that sphere. The system of employment in the teaching service was at that time, and still is, one in which secondary school, technical college, or university graduates are often appointed without any training in pedagogy. Primary school teachers are required to have a minimum of five CXC/GCE O-level passes, inclusive of English language, mathematics, and a science subject. The secondary school teacher is typically required to have a university degree or a diploma from a technical college. However, a limited number of A-level graduates may also secure teaching positions in the secondary sector. Training in pedagogy was/is not a prerequisite for employment at either the primary or secondary school level.
In May 1993, the then Director of Curriculum Development (DCD) designed a primary teacher preparation programme as part of the OJT scheme. The Permanent Secretary worked out the logistics of the pilot project of teaching assistants under the OJT apprenticeship scheme, and this was submitted to the Cabinet in a Departmental Note of the Ministry of Education on June 8, 1993. It was hoped that this programme would provide some basic training in pedagogy for participants, test their aptitude for teaching and, ultimately, eliminate those participants who were not suited to teaching. This programme was called the Pre-Service Teacher Training Programme (hereafter referred to simply as the OJT programme), and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Division of the Ministry of Education was assigned the task of administering the programme.
The recognised teachers' trade union, the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA), made some recommendations and then strongly supported the OJT plan. The Primary School Principals Association also approved the pilot project. The Denominational School Boards were asked to submit the names of prospective participants for the project. In addition, the School Supervisors (SSs) of the eight Education Districts met for two days in August 1993 and studied the structure and time frame of the plan, noting their involvement in management and administration. A team, which was made up of SSs I and II and the DCD, was formed to give direction to the programme, which began on August 3, 1993 and lasted for one year. An APC was hired in August 1993 to manage the programme. Much later during the course of the programme's implementation, in May 1994, a Steering Committee was formed, which comprised the DCD, the APC, a TTUTA representative, a primary school principal, and two SSs.
During the period February 1994 - December 1996, three subsequent programmes followed the pilot programme for potential primary school teachers. The programme was temporarily stopped in December 1996 when there was a change of government. It was revived in March 1997 and resumed in April 1997. The Cabinet Minute 662 of March 20, 1997, ordering the restarting of the programme stated:
- To the re-instatement, under the aegis of the Ministry of Education, of the 1996/1997 Pre-Service Teacher Training Programme which was discontinued with effect from January 1, 1997 when the National Apprenticeship System was terminated (Minute No. 3112 of December 5, 1996)
- That the Pre-Service Training Programme be continued as part of the on-going teacher training activities of the Ministry of Education
- That provision be made in the 1998 Draft Estimates of Expenditure of the Ministry of Education to meet the cost of continuing the Programme in 1998.
The OJT programme was originally designed for prospective primary school teachers but, by July 1994, a programme was prepared for prospective secondary school teachers. The committee for planning this secondary programme comprised the PC, the APC, and the coordinators of the North and South zones. There was no secondary programme in Tobago.