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OAS meeting of Caribbean Education Stakeholders concluded in Barbados

BARBADOS – A group of Caribbean stakeholders concluded a three-day meeting in Barbados on Friday, August 15, in which they discussed details of a distance course for educators entitled “Education for Democratic Citizenship in the Caribbean”.

The course is spearheaded by the Organization of American States (OAS) in partnership with UWI Open Campus and the Ministries of Education of six pilot territories, and funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Over the course of the Joint Review and Implementation Meeting, representatives from the Ministries of Education of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago—as well as stakeholders from a broad range of disciplines, including government and politics, teacher education, human rights, gender and citizenship education—reviewed the course script and discussed implementation, monitoring and evaluation issues. Participants also analyzed strategies to promote the distance course in the region to maximize its impact on local, regional and hemispheric policy in the area of citizenship education.

Dr. Hazel Simmons-McDonald, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the UWI Open Campus, offered opening remarks at the meeting. Lenore Yaffee Garcia, Director of the Department of Education and Culture at the OAS, and Kathryn Dunlop, CIDA’s representative based at the Canadian High Commission, delivered the welcoming remarks.

The early 21st century finds the English-speaking Caribbean at a crossroads in the development of its democracy. On one hand, the Caribbean boasts a healthy tradition of adherence to the institutions, norms, and practices of liberal democracy. On the other hand, there is a realization that democracy is a lived reality, and its successes are not guaranteed by the presence of institutions and law, but by individual attitudes and behavior and by cultural practices which shape human interrelationships. It is in this context that teacher trainees and current classroom teachers from across the Caribbean are being called upon to participate in the “Education for Democratic Citizenship in the Caribbean” course.

The three-year project is expected to strengthen teaching practices at the classroom level so that teachers and students become more democratic and reflective. Specific recommendations emerging from this week’ meeting will be used to finalize the course script and it is anticipated that the course will be piloted in January 2009.

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