Education Minister Anthony Garcia said one of the shortcomings of his ministry is not being able to address the issue of teacher training in technical and vocational education.
Tuesday, he opened the Tech Ed/TVET Centre at the Couva West Secondary School, Balisier Street, Couva.
He said, “My ministry recognises that if students are to receive the best training, we must ensure that the teachers are qualified to assist them in absorbing this training,”
Tech education was introduced in junior secondary schools in 1972, he said, when a number of teachers were trained in technical vocational skills. a system, he said, that allowed them to deliver a curriculum effectively. This training was done at the John Donaldson Technical Institute. The system saw several changes and it is now named University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT).
“When UTT took over, that aspect of teacher training died,” Garcia said. He describe the opening of the Tech Ed/TVET Centre in Couva as a rebirth of this system.
Professionals from the Metal Industries Company (MIC), and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), Garcia said, have been working assiduously to ensure that teachers are adequately trained.
To drive home his message, Garcia said having taught industrial arts for ten years at the Five Rivers Secondary School, he knows this kind of education can have a positive impact on the minds of young people.
“If I can pinpoint any period of my teaching career that was really rewarding it was during those ten years.”
Garcia said the best auto mechanics in TT are those who learnt this skill at the junior and senior secondary schools.
“Many people feel if a child is not academically or intellectually gifted, they should be sent to learn a trade,” he said. Over his 39 years as a teacher, he had to constantly try to dispel this thought from the minds of people. In fact, he said, those who have trained in technology training excelled in business.
“We want to have creative thinkers in our society and the best opportunity we have of producing creative thinkers is to have persons engaged in technical and vocational education.”
Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan said technology education utilises the systemic approach to problem-solving and incorporates a number of 21st-century skills.
He said the estimated cost of this centre is $240,000.
The minister also launched a book, Technology Education, as a guide to this training programme. It was written by Eleanor Carrington Davis, with research by Dr Kahleel Mohoyodeen and Karen Nandaram Ramdahin.
Technical Education director John Roopchand and MIC representative Carol Mitchell also addressed the opening ceremony. Students of Holy Faith Convent Kia Johnson and Patrice Richardson sang at the event.