THE United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has partnered with the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) to train teachers of adult learners in literacy and numeracy.

The in-service teacher training is being delivered islandwide under the 'Enhancing outcomes for trainers of adult learners' project, which kicked off at the Altamont Court Hotel in Kingston on October 28.

DALEY SUTHERLAND... these teachers show open approval for all the training techniques shared


Speaking during the Observer's weekly Monday Exchange on July 19, Robert Parua, programme specialist in education with UNESCO's Kingston Cluster, revealed that his agency intended to focus on "improving the quality of teacher training, both pre-service and in service, in other words, those already in the classroom and those entering".

He also noted at the time that the main goals of his office included:

* the achievement of a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015;

* equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults; and

* improving all aspects of the quality of education so that recognised and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.

It was against this background that the training workshops were born.

"This project focuses on best practices in demonstrated methodologies and the importance of linking and extending content in the learning material, making it relevant to the lives and livelihoods of the youth and adult learners," said JFLL executive director, Dr Alison Cross.

"The overarching goal is to clearly contribute to outcome 2 of Jamaica's Vision 2030 plan, that 'by 2030, Jamaicans are empowered to achieve their fullest potential, and envisions the development of a 'world-class education and training system'. This is not possible unless we aggressively step up the drive to boost the national literacy rate," she added.

Modules include personal reflection and attitude, psychology of adult learning, skills of collaboration and the delivery of the curriculum for the foundation lessons in English, numeracy and survival (LENS) programme.

Anchored in the 'quality' section of UNESCO's international agenda for adult education, the guiding document, the Belem Framework for Action, which was tabled, fine tuned and adopted at the sixth global conference on adult education (Confintea VI), in December 2009 in Bélém, Brazil, it is also aligned with Jamaica's national education strategic plan for 2010 to 2016.

"It also represents partial fulfilment of the commitment given by former JFLL board chair Senator Hyacinth Bennett just over a year ago, to develop and execute a comprehensive programme of skills upgrading for teachers in the adult education sub-sector," said a release from the JFLL. "Speaking then at a long service awards function for JFLL teachers, Bennett lamented the falling standards within the country, suggesting that as a main part of the solution, 'We need a new breed of educators'. She also challenged the JFLL teachers to "ensure that you are on the cutting edge. Forget the old notions of talk and chalk, get on the Internet, challenge your charges by stimulating them in new ways. You must do everything within your power to impact the students across the country and so empower them to play a more active role in nation building."

The current project, which will unfold in several stages on a regional basis, has been funded to the tune of $500,000 over five weeks.

"By the end of (this) month, this project will have had an immediate impact on the approximately 7,000 youth and adult learners enrolled in JFLL centres across the island, with a residual multiplier effect of approximately 100 per cent within a 12-month period, thereby reducing attrition," noted Sandra Prince, director of technical services at the JFLL.

Chief facilitator and JFLL's workplace and community projects co-ordinator, Reverend Miranda Daley Sutherland expressed satisfaction with the level of engagement displayed by the first cohort of participants.

"These teachers show open approval for all the training techniques shared and have glowing testimonies of how this workshop is likely to contribute to improved curriculum delivery," she said.

She argued that already the teachers have become more aware of the need to address the social and personal development of youth and adult learners as they move through the various levels to functional literacy.

Workshop participant Alwyn Reid agreed.

"I found the two-day seminar (held October 28 and 29) interesting and enlightening. It certainly gave me a lot to think about, even after delivering foundation literacy classes for some time," said the St Catherine educator.

"I now feel more empowered to go back and try different things in the classroom. More teacher training seminars should incorporate at least one practicum like this one did; it allowed us to test the strategies within 24 hours of discussion, and that was priceless," he added.

Twenty-five teachers participated in the two-day event. They included instructors in the Foundation LENS and computer application software for empowerment programmes from St Catherine, St Thomas and Kingston and St Andrew. The remaining two-day workshops will be held on four successive Thursday/Friday cycles until the end of this month.