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CARICOM launches teacher’s training program as part of Let’s REAP

One of the most adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was on the education sector. The COVID-19- induced lockdowns brought significant disruptions to education across the globe. The Caribbean region was also severely affected. Most schools in the Caribbean were closed for two years causing damage in terms of education outcomes, human capital, and the productivity for future generations. COVID-related school closures in the Caribbean affected approximately 1.7 million children across 21 countries, disproportionately impacting marginalised and vulnerable students.

To address this crisis, a Learning Recovery and Enhancement Programme known as Let’s REAP was developed collaboratively among the CARICOM Secretariat, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and launched in July 2021. The focus of Let’s REAP! is to promote learning improvement in light of the challenges to education brought about by COVID-19. However, the programme also intends to address longer-standing issues which the pandemic has exacerbated, as well as to build the resilience of national education systems to the occurrence of other natural hazards (such as flooding, hurricanes, and volcanic activity) prevalent in the region. Let’s REAP! components offer a balanced approach that can address the complexities of learning contexts in the member states, as well as the needs of students and their families, teachers and schools as a whole. The developers of the program have highlighted that attention must be given to adequate implementation and monitoring to ensure effective performance and execution of Let’s REAP particularly related to the context of the most vulnerable students and their families in each participating member state.
On 28 September 2022, the key components of the Let’s REAP were launched which includes a teacher training program to tackle COVID-related learning loss. The 45-hour certification course will be implemented over a two-year period (August 2022-March 2024) and has been designed for blended delivery and flexible pacing for participants. It is expected that five mixed cohorts of approximately 3000 educators each, including principals, teachers and Ministry of Education officials will complete the course over a 6-to-10-week period. The programme is in line with CDB’s mission to reduce poverty and transform lives through sustainable, resilient, and inclusive development, and advances the goals of the CARICOM HRD, as well as the OECS Education Sector Strategy. The first cohort of 3000 educators will commence training in October 2022.

Addressing the launch, CDB’s Vice-President (Corporate Services) and Bank Secretary, Mrs. Yvette Lemonias Seale said, “The Caribbean Development Bank, in its commitment to strengthening social infrastructure as a means of promoting human capital and socio-economic development in the region, is strategically investing in the Learning Recovery and Enhancement Programme to empower schools to improve the quality of teaching and learning.”

CARICOM’s Assistant Secretary-General, Ms. Allison Drayton said that “Let’s REAP as a response to put regional progress against the CARICOM Human Resource Development Strategy (HRD) 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goal 4, back on track is timely and urgent. Capacity building for educators in formative assessment and differentiated instruction; building communities of practice focused on student learning, and leadership for learning will go a long way towards improving student success and addressing academic trajectories and well-being.”

The OECS Commission’s Director General, H.E. Dr. Didacus Jules explained that in response to the ‘generational catastrophe’ caused by COVID-19, the OECS Commission, developed and implemented an Academic Recovery Programme (ARP) in 2020. He said, “Understanding the direct link between teacher quality and student learning outcomes, this recovery strategy focused on the capacity of teachers, hence aproximately 700 primary school teachers have been certified in Effective Pedagogy in Distributed Teaching and Learning. Ultimately, almost 40,000 students in the region benefitted from this programme. The Let’s Reap progamme builds on the ARP which will further support teaching and learning. Nonetheless, we know that addressing learning loss will require interventions even beyond what we have started and are currently embarking on. It will necessitate diagnosis and assessment, meeting learners at their level, access to psychosocial support, and a multi-sectoral approach.”

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