School administrators urged to focus on skills needed for the 21st century

School administrators urged to focus on skills needed for the 21st century

BIS: Kathryn Campbell

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As public administrators prepare for the new school year 2019/2020, Education Minister the Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd, underscored the importance of the 4 C’s of 21st Century Skills – collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication.  

“To thrive in today’s innovation driven economy all of us will need a different mix of skills than in the past,” the minister said.

“In addition to foundational skills like literacy, numeracy and oracy, we are going to need 4 C’s — collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication.

“Never before, unlike any time before, those skills will be essential in the problem solving and character qualities that this 21st century demands and will require.”

He advised that the need for all individuals to have these skills is heightened by major changes in the labour market, the focus of skilled jobs on solving unstructured problems, effectively analysing information, technology substituting for manual labour among others.

Lloyd presented the keynote address on Monday at the official opening ceremony of the Public School Administrators Conclave 2019 at Baha Mar Convention Centre.  The theme for the two-day conclave is “Effective Leadership, One Team, One Goal”.

The education minister emphasised the need for education to be “visionary” more than ever before. He said to cope with rapid changes in the 21st century, innovation, technology and research, including self-management in the learning process, are indispensable tools for students, teachers, administrators and policy makers.

He said, “Failure to innovate by and large means repeating yesterday’s educational programs and strategies tomorrow, which will only further jeopardise education’s ability as a contributor to national development.”

To equip students with the goals and 21st century skills required, the MOE has embarked on a $17 million Smart School System upgrade.

In approximately one year, the entire educational system will be upgraded to include experiential learning, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, personalised learning and distance learning, the first of its kind in the Caribbean.

“We have every year, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 teacher shortages in our system in those most critical areas, math, sciences, foreign languages, and students that are most affected are those in Family Islands particularly the Southern islands,” the minister said.

“That is unfair because we have committed to equal access to quality education. Technology is going to eliminate that. Technology is going to further empower you and I, administrators and teachers, in providing the kind of support, assistance and instructions we need for our students.”

He added, “This September, those schools in the southern constituency, particularly Acklins, Crooked Island, Mayaguana, and San Salvador will be in a virtual school classroom. We are working with teachers, unions, and our administrators in making sure that this is effectively rolled out and properly implemented so that those students can benefit.”

In his welcome remarks, Director of Education Marcellus Taylor told the administrators that the conclave’s agenda was put together so that they would be in a better position to lead their schools, to determine an effective path for providing students with the kind of education experience that will make them, the students and graduates they are needed to be.

He urged them to ensure the sessions are impactful to them so that they can positively impact others.

The goals of the conclave are to:

– Build a spirit of camaraderie among school administrators and educational partners;

– To expose administrators to key skills for the effective management of schools;

– To foster a collaborative approach to the sharing of best practices;

– To set a clear direction for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Topics include: effective leadership, how to build teams and reach the goal, effective mentoring for junior administrators and teachers, district/school-wide professional learning communities, school and district level data teams, the school administrator and industrial relations, some practical strategies and tools, skills for effective leadership, and giving and receiving feedback.