UCCI to confer first bachelor of education degrees

UCCI will confer its first
bachelor’s degrees in education during its graduation ceremony on Thursday, as
some 150 members of the 200-strong class of 2010 also will participate in the
annual event. 

A total of 11 education graduates
include five groundbreaking students who have earned their bachelor’s degree in
education and six others who will be the first to receive their teachers’ aide
certification.

The ceremony will be held at 6:45
pm in the Sir Vassel Johnson Hall, and attendance is by invitation-only, though
the event will be broadcast live on CITN’s Cayman 27.  

“I am elated,” said Allan Young,
chair of UCCI’s faculty of education. 
“It feels like giving birth to one’s very first child – there’s the pain
of delivery, but after the child arrives, there is that euphoric feeling of
having brought forth new life.”

UCCI’s education programmes are
approved by the University of Miami and accredited by the largest teacher
education organisation in the Caribbean, the Joint Board of Teacher Education
of the Institute of Education of the University of the West Indies.  The joint board is charged with the oversight
of all teaching programmes across the Caribbean region. 

The introduction of the programme
began in 2006, said Mr. Young, owing in large part to the vision of UCCI’s
President Roy Bodden during his tenure as minister of education. However, the
programme was set in motion by a later administration, under the leadership of
then-Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin, as part of the 2005 National
Consensus on the Future of Education.

Organised on the UCCI end by Mr.
Young and colleagues Mark Minott and Louise Malcolm, the process started with
meetings with the Ministry of Education and stakeholders.  The development reached its climax following
what Mr. Young calls an “intellectual partnership” with the University of Miami
and the joint board.  The University of
Miami subsequently independently reviewed and accepted the syllabus. 

“The University of Miami’s sanction
means that our students are accepted unconditionally into that institution’s
master’s programmes,” said Mr. Young. 

The programme was further
accredited in 2009 by the the joint board, representatives of which visit
yearly to evaluate students on teaching practice. 

Reflective model

In addition to filling these
obvious needs, Mr. Young is pleased, too, about the template on which all UCCI
education programmes are based – the Reflective Pastoral Apprenticeship
Model. 

“This means the aim of all our
programmes is to develop and encourage students to think critically and to
question their personal values, assumptions and beliefs about current teaching
dynamics, while reflecting on their teaching behaviours as a whole.”

The whole area of reflective
teaching is a sphere of some expertise for UCCI.  Last year Mr. Minott presented a paper on
this leading-edge concept at a conference of the Trinidad and Tobago Reading
Association.  Mr. Minott has also
appeared with regard to this concept in the bibliography of a current textbook
in use at UCCI and other tertiary level education institutions.

While equipping graduates with such
sound and up-to-date educational theory, policy and practice, the bachelor’s
degree in education also provides opportunities to be current in the use of
information technology in the classroom, progressive with regard to the latest
innovations in curriculum and instruction, and forward-thinking in terms of
strategies for achieving an effective learning environment, Mr. Young said.  Graduates are also inducted into the intricacies
of classroom measurement and evaluation.

To be accepted into the bachelor’s
programme, candidates must have five top-grade passes at CXC or equivalent, or
four passes with one at “A” (Advanced) level. 
SAT scores at specified higher levels are also accepted.  Mature students (over 30 years of age), especially
those working in the field of teaching, are accepted on passing the college
entrance exam at specified higher levels.

The future

And what’s ahead for this
burgeoning sector of UCCI’s faculties? 
The next goal, says Mr. Young, is to offer a collaborative master’s
degree with the University of Miami — the Master of Science in Education
Programme in advanced professional studies, which he anticipates will start
shortly. 

This advanced degree programme,
meeting another of the goals for educational development in the Cayman Islands
– this time for high-quality continuing education for existing professionals —
will be taught in Cayman at the UCCI campus by University of Miami faculty, though many
courses will be co-taught with UCCI Education faculty.

A plus for entrants to this
programme is that admission and good standing in the master’s in education
programme will afford local students all the opportunities of University of
Miami students, including access to all UM facilities and resources.

Those attending this week’s
graduation ceremony are reminded that they must show invitations at the door,
and they should arrive well in advance of the 6:45 pm start time.

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