Teachers, Technology and (Re)Training
Teachers, Technology and (Re)Training by Professor Gajaraj Dhanarajan, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Commonwealth of Learning Delivered at a Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC)/ Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) workshop on Integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) through Teacher Professional Development, Bank of Montreal Institute for Learning Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, 1 - 3 December 1999 // It does not need yet another person, least of all someone like me, to say that the contemporary, social, political and economic pressures are making more education a mandatory obligation for governments. In most parts of the developing world, the desire to provide universal access to basic education as well as the increased use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education and training has meant a rapid increase in establishing infrastructure facilities. Unfortunately, supported by international donor and lending agencies, the capacity of governments to build more classrooms and place more computers in those classrooms seems to have far outstripped their capacities to produce qualified teachers to work in those classrooms with their machines. One estimate states that there may be as many as 1.8 million teachers needed by the low-income countries alone to meet the under supply of teachers in primary schools alone. A further study by Coldevin and Naidoo goes on to say that even where teachers are available, on a global scale, close to 30% still remain untrained both professionally and academically in the primary sector alone. That figure will be much higher if the other sectors, besides primary, are also included. While many of the APEC economies may not be in this dire state, statistics that are being published about teacher-readiness and their capacities to work in the new technologically enriched environment, seem to indicate that these economies will also be confronted with a similar situation of under-trained personnel, if they want to avoid using yesterday's teachers to educate tomorrow's children.