Ministry launches digital transformation programme
"AT THE global table, our students and teachers cannot and will not compete if they are not versed in technology. Therefore, their learning experiences must be tailored to prepare them for the reality of a world that has gone digital." These were the words of Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly at the launch of the ministry's digital transformation programme – MoE Access: Unlocking the Future of Education.
The launch was held on Tuesday morning at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.
The programme, through the ministry's website, has three sub-sections: services, systems and solutions.
It offers online teacher registration, teacher training tool kits, human resources support, school infrastructure/issue management, e-books, e-testing, exam results, among other things.
Gadsby-Dolly said education and technology enjoy a symbiotic relationship. While she believes the basic principles of an educational foundation remain unchanged, "Combining these foundations with the power of digital technology will provide the robust educational experience that is required for our citizens..."
She said the ministry has been "quietly but consistently" expanding its digital offerings., adding that the covid19 pandemic only "catapulted" the process forward.
"...At was often an uncomfortable pace...but transformation is seldom comfortable and change can be difficult."
She said education in TT must be modern, relevant, of high quality and equitable for all.
She shared five objectives of digitisation within the ministry: Supporting the embedding of digital technology in teaching, learning and assessing, upgrading digital technology infrastructure all schools, promoting administrative growth and increased value from service delivery improvements, supporting vulnerable and marginalised populations within communities, and applying dedicated funding and resources to facilitate upskilling of all personnel.
"Education takes a village," she said.
The Prime Minister said he was "particularly pleased" to witness such an initiative being launched and praised Gadsby-Dolly and her team for the "excellence" being delivered "to accelerate our children’s use of digital technologies in their educational pursuits.
"Today’s launch marks a continuation of the good work that the ministry has been doing to leverage technology in order to deliver improved access to education for citizens."
Dr Rowley said one of the government's guiding principles is its commitment to ensuring citizens have the opportunity to access services, tools and resourced needed "to enable them to live, work and prosper as we overcome the many challenges of the recent past."
Rowley said the opportunities when it comes to digital transformation are "limitless," which the country saw during the height of the covid19 pandemic when many things moved online.
"What these events have shown us is that digital technology, when appropriately deployed and made accessible to everyone, has the power to positively transform our lives for the better.
"Transformation also means that
we have to change – we have to change the way that we are used to doing things, to step out of our comfort zones and face a degree of uncertainty and disruption
in our daily lives, we have to acknowledge that there are things that we do not yet know, or the impacts emerging technologies will have but we must have a balanced outlook."
He said the government has a responsibility to ensure the management and introduction of digital technologies is done in an orderly and responsible manner.
"...Lest uncertainty becomes concern, concern becomes doubt, and doubt becomes fear and paranoia.
"Our young people can be shielded from but not insulated from these developments that are, in fact, their world. We just have to teach them good values and help them to cope."
He assured the public that cybersecurity remains high on the government's agenda, and as more digital solutions are implemented, security will continue to increase.
"We will place every mechanism in place to secure our students and keep them from exposure to harmful elements. We will also equip them with knowledge so they can either avoid the risks or know how to address them if they do present themselves in their lives. There will be multiple levels of protection and awareness campaigns to build our national cybersecurity literacy levels."
He continued, "I turn my attention to provide encouragement to the recipients of these major investment initiatives on which we have embarked – our precious young people – who we must nurture, protect and develop in all that they do, our parents, guardians and spiritual leaders who are charged with the responsibility for their growth and development in all areas; our educators at all levels, primary, secondary and tertiary, supervisors and all staff at the Ministry of Education."
Minister of Digital Transformation Hassel Bacchus said the programme's theme – Unlocking the Future of Education – goes "directly to the heart of what we seek to accomplish in the nexus between education and digital technology."
He said education is responsible for shaping the country's next generation of leaders, thinkers and doers by ensuring they have the knowledge, skills and values which will "enable them to take TT to the next level.
"Digital technology is a cross-cutting enabler when properly applied, acts as a force multiplier by exponentially increasing our ability to share and analyse information and communicating and networking with each other.
"If we get education right, there's no limit to what TT can accomplish."
The Education Ministry's permanent secretary Kurt Meyer said the launch was a milestone, adding that the transformation of the education sector calls for "all hands on deck.
"The ministry envisages a future where every student has access to high-end digital resources, a personalised learning experience and the skills they need to exist in a digital age."
Asked about the ministry's continued efforts to provide devices on which students can access these services, she said that from the applications through its means test last October-November, at least 2,000 students are eligible to benefit.
"Ministry launches digital transformation programme"