WHILE it may be slow in coming, filling the vacancies that exist within the Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) centres is in progress, says Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh.
In April, Gopeesingh pointed out that there was room for approximately 3,600 ECCE teachers.
To date, however, Gopeesingh has said "We have approximately 120 ECCE teachers and assistant teachers who have been interviewed and the Human Resource Department has indicated that pretty shortly they are going to be given their contracts."
Speaking at a ceremony at the Ministry's head office in Port of Spain yesterday to highlight the achievement of two Trinidadians who copped the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) gold and silver medallions in last year's Institute of Training and Development (INTAD) advertising examination Gopeesingh added that he expected "to have at least one teacher and one assistant teacher to every ten students at minimum".
"So if a school has 60, we will have six teachers," he said.
Gopeesingh added that the Ministry is "looking forward to supporting the (further) training of the ECCE teachers, which will be done by the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), the University of the Southern Caribbean, Servol and one other organisation".
On the other hand, he said in order to ensure that all ECCE centres have administrator teachers; they are considering asking the ones that are on staff to multitask and supervise an additional "two or three".
"We had about 16 administrator teachers coming out recently, 45 at a different level, and we thought to maximise their performance and capability we would ask them to consider assisting in managing about three or four of these centres together and which they had agreed to" for a sum of $12,000 per month.
"The whole concept of using administrative teachers might prove to be a difficulty in the long run because we would have to have at least 600 of them…but this is being discussed to see the best way forward," he said.
Asked however, about the concerns of some primary school teachers with regard to the changing of next year's booklist, Gopeesingh said it was needed since they had not evaluated the textbooks used since 2002.
"A lot of new books have come on to the market and to facilitate these new books entries into the book market without a full evaluation, we have given the principals of each school the authority to choose their books that they would want to have used in line with the curriculum."
Following a meeting with the 22 publishers, the Minister said the text books will be bought and will be used for a three-year period.