Media Center

Press Release


  September 27, 2006

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago—During a visit today to the new campus of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, education experts from around the hemisphere learned about the country’s new policies to ensure that schoolteachers can earn a university education and thus be better prepared to meet the challenges of the future.

The visit was part of a four-day seminar, sponsored by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the government of Trinidad and Tobago, on “New Approaches to Policy and Practice for Teacher Educators in the Americas.”

Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Education, Senator Hazel Manning, explained that a quality educational system is necessary to achieve the goal of earning developed-country status by 2020. “I am confident this program will have an influence in the Caribbean and in the wider region as Trinidad and Tobago leads the way in teacher education reform,” she said.

The initiative establishes a fully subsidized four-year Bachelor’s in Education degree program and converts the country’s two teacher-training colleges into campuses of the University of Trinidad and Tobago. This year, some 1,200 candidates were selected for the bachelor’s program, and about 400 already employed teachers will be enrolled part-time.

During the opening of the seminar Tuesday, Minister Manning explained that these educational reforms will have profound effects for the country. “The benefit has been that teacher education policies now ensure international competitiveness for young people in Trinidad and Tobago,” she said. “We know that this move will also strengthen our democracy,” added Minister Manning, who credited participation in OAS projects and events with having influenced her thinking on teacher education policies.

For her part, Lenore Yaffee Garcia, Director of the OAS Department of Education and Culture, explained that increasing the professional level of teachers is a challenge for the entire region and praised Trinidad and Tobago’s leadership in this area. She said the seminar would offer the opportunity for participants to share ideas, strategies and concrete recommendations that are relevant in their own countries.

The participants, who come from 25 countries in the Caribbean and North, Central and South America, include university presidents, teacher educators, government policymakers, researchers and international organizations dedicated to the improvement of education in the hemisphere. The event, which continues through Friday, is a joint venture of the OAS, the Ministry of Education of Trinidad and Tobago, the University of Maryland and the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education, an international association that promotes cooperation among universities in the region.

Reference: E-203/06