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Educators told: Take back classroom power

Published: 
Thursday, February 17, 2011
From left, Bebe Ajodha, of the Ministry of Education, joins Microsoft general manager, Trinidad and Tobago, Latin America and Eastern Caribbean, Pradeep Raman, as he congratulates director of curriculum, Dipwatee Maharaj, while school supervisor Judith Pierre looks on. Photo: Rishi Ragoonath

Director of Curriculum in the Ministry of Education Dipwatee Maharaj has called on educators to take back the power in the classrooms. That, as she questioned what has changed within the education system when students have decided to arm themselves with guns and cutlasses when they walked through the school gates. “What is it that has changed the term teacher and the P in the power for principals, that a child says ‘I am going to walk through the school gates and I am going to have a cutlass in my bag’ or ‘I am going to use the laptops you have given me to sell porn.’ What is it that has changed?” she asked.

Maharaj posed the questions as she delivered the feature address at the launch of the ministry’s, in collaboration with Microsoft, eCal Information and Computer Technology (ICT) in Education Innovation Awards at the Rudranath Capildeo Learning Resource Centre, McBean, Couva. The awards calls on teachers to create original and culturally sensitive digital content for students, based on the eight core subjects, including visual and performing arts and mathematics. Four winners will be selected to represent T&T at the Microsoft Regional Innovative Teachers Forum in Santiago de Chile. Their schools will be awarded trophies.

She called on educators to ask themselves why the vision of producing versatile, productive and well-balanced students had become “clouded.” “Why have we settled for students who have agreed to live in the mud? Why have we agreed to produce such students? What is it (that) we are not taking in the power and authority of our posts?” she asked. She called on educators to bridge the gap between themselves and students with the use of technology in the classroom if T&T is to combat crime and produce productive students.

Maharaj lamented that although T&T, through the ministry, had been meeting most of the millennium goals, such as universal education, primary and secondary, funded tertiary education, transport and nutrition for students, something remained missing. This missing element, she said, was found through combining traditional teaching methods and computer technology in the classroom. She encouraged educators to harness the energy in the students by engaging them with innovative classroom activities and lessons plans which include technology since this was needed to engage students of the 21st century. Microsoft general manager, Trinidad and Tobago, Latin America and Eastern Caribbean, Pradeep Raman, said: “As educators you have the power to unleash the potential of our future leaders.”

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