Educators attend UK conference

Education in the Cayman Islands compares very favourably with that of other countries around the world, especially in the number of students with access to computers and the Internet in schools, as well as its information communication technology infrastructure in general.

This was one finding of top officials in Cayman’s Education Ministry, who recently attended a three-day world seminar for education ministers, focusing on ICT and electronic learning (e-learning), said a GIS press release.

Titled Moving Young Minds, the third-annual conference was held 9-11 January in London. It was attended by Education Minister Alden McLaughlin, Chief Officer Angela Martins and Deputy Chief Officer Mary Rodriguez.

Some 60 countries were represented at the conference. Key presenters included ministers of education from around the world, as well as representatives of global education and ICT organizations, the release said.

The conference was hosted by the UK’s Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Ruth Kelly, and held at Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in The Palace of Westminster, home of the Houses of Parliament.

In her welcome statement, Ms Kelly called the event ambitious in scope. ‘It addresses three interrelated themes: a world vision on ICT and e-learning; the challenges of changing education culture to make the best use of technology; and the digital divide – addressing the challenges of ensuring that opportunities provided by technology are made available to all children.’

Commenting on the conference, Minister McLaughlin said, ‘While Cayman has many positives, we are not yet where we need to be in terms of using technology to support teaching and learning. To fully realize the potential of ICT we must move beyond the technical issues to look at broader issues of how ICT will help us improve school student performance.’

Conference delegates attended seminars and workshops on topics such as schools of the future, and international collaborations using ICT. They visited the British Education and Training Technology Show, which is the largest education information trade show in the world. They also visited a leading-edge London school to see how the use of modern technology is being maximised in UK schools, the release said.

Minister McLaughlin noted that the world education seminar was ‘informative, challenging and very timely, as it comes at a time when my ministry is preparing a large-scale review of Cayman’s national curriculum. Simultaneously, we are deciding on the future direction of the education system’s technology integration initiative – the ITALIC Programme.’

He added, ‘The issue of how to make the best use of ICT in our education system must remain a key area of focus in education system reform.’

Expanding on this new direction, which follows Cayman’s National Education Conference and the current drafting of new directives to steer the process, the Minister said that top priority will be placed on ICT curriculum development and teacher training. In turn, this will support the development of e-learning and e-delivery opportunities.

‘My ministry is also taking measures to ensure that the design for the planned new high schools will maximize the potential for ICT to become imbedded in the schools’ curriculum,’ concluded Mr. McLaughlin.