Press Release:- The Ministry of Education continues in its concerted efforts to make digital literacy of the citizenry a top priority with the implementation of the ProFuturo project.
In 2019 Saint Lucia was chosen as one of the countries to pilot an education program that seeks to improve digital literacy and lessen the digital education divide within the region. The ProFuturo Education Program is a collaborative initiative between the Organization of American States (OAS) and the ProFuturo Foundation of Spain, and was launched here in February of this year. The initiative seeks to bring digital education to twelve (12) participating schools across Saint Lucia initially, benefiting one hundred and sixty (160) teachers and almost three thousand (3000) primary school students.
The ProFuturo Education Program aims to narrow the education gap by utilizing high quality digital educational tools for children as well as providing training for teachers. ProFuturo focusses on the teaching community as the key factor for educational transformation. Therefore, it trains and empowers them through digital skills and innovative methodologies and works with or without connectivity, adapting content to suit the local environment.
For the Saint Lucia pilot program, tablets and other equipment valued at almost 50,000 Euros were provided by ProFuturo as well as access to the “Weclass” Educational platform, where content is available on courses that focus on linguistic and Science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) skills.
Recently an OAS team visited the schools that were engaged in the ProFuturo Education Program and stated their satisfaction with its progress.
Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert Minister of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development met with the ProFuturo team and thanked them for bringing their innovation to Saint Lucia. “The ProFuturo Education Program is very much in alignment with our broader vision for e-education. This is the kind of intervention that fits neatly within our well defined ecosystem for e-education and our Government’s vision to bridge the national digital divide,” Dr. Rigobert says. “Teacher training is a major component of this ecosystem of e-education and I am quite pleased to know that there has been much participation in the training of the use of the ProFuturo Education Program by our teachers across the island,” she went on to say.
OAS representative Ms. Lilly Ching expressed her gratitude to the Ministry of Education for the collaboration and for “believing in the initiative and supporting it.” “We were also encouraged by the collective effort and collaboration among coaches and teachers and this we believe will augur well for the success of the program”.
While only twelve schools are involved in the initial pilot, the OAS representative indicated that due to COVID-19 the training was extended to more teachers. “This was very exciting and it gave me much hope just to see the teachers and coaches putting into practice what they had learnt so far and knowing the impact this would have on the students,” Ching said.
Meanwhile, the next step according to Esther Brathwaite who is the local manager for ProFuturo, is the further training of Coaches on October 8th and 9th 2020. “This training was initially scheduled for March but because of COVID was postponed. So now it will be done, leveraging both face to face and online modalities, and will be conducted by ProFuturo personnel,” Brathwaite indicated. This training she went on to explain will involve learning how to use the platform’s digital content and adapting it for our local context.
The way forward according to the project manager, is to determine how to make the program sustainable and how it can respond to new and emerging needs.
The coach Mrs. Odile Biscette, from the Micoud Primary School – one of the twelve participating schools – described the program as extremely useful and progressive. She went on to say, “We are integrating the use of technology into the teaching/learning aspect and providing students with the opportunity to develop digital skills to enable them to function adequately in the 21st Century.” The teachers she worked with, she says, were very eager and receptive, recognizing the benefits of the program.
Dr. Rigobert reaffirmed her commitment to the ProFuturo project and seeing the full implementation of Saint Lucia’s ICT in Education policy, especially given that they echo, in part, what is contained in Goal 4 of the United Nations’ 2030 sustainable development agenda on access to equitable and inclusive quality education for all.