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Analysis of a complex educational system

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This is a paper on systems design. I will attempt to give a favorable analysis of a complex educational system – the teacher education system in Jamaica. The main issue is that large numbers of teachers need to be trained and the resources for training are limited. Rationalization to reduce duplication of courses and to promote cost effectiveness is one strategy implemented by the government.


Submitted:Oct 17, 2010    Reads: 567    Comments: 2    Likes: 7   


Systems Design
Submitted by: Claude H. A. Simpson
Analysis of a complex educational system - the teacher education system in Jamaica.
Introduction
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the teacher education system in Jamaica. This is set in the wider context of the education system in the island with teacher education representing the macro level and the education system the mega level, using Kaufman's terminology (2000). The appendix gives a summary of the analysis done with the levels of planning and focus of the system indicated. The ideal vision is at the mega level. This represents the desired outcomes, the results and consequences to society. The mission analysis is at the macro level, the results to be delivered outside of the teacher training institutions, which are themselves at the micro level. The task analysis indicates the process, the means by which the teacher training is implemented. The inputs are the human, physical and financial resources used.
This report is limited to an analysis of the teacher training system in the teachers' colleges in the island.
The teachers' colleges
There are eight teachers' colleges whose mission is to provide trained teachers for the early childhood, primary special and secondary schools although no one college provides all of these programs. Students are required to take courses in their subjects of specialization, as well as Education and English courses. They do supervised teaching, also referred to as teaching practice, in local schools. Successful students graduate from the three year programs in the colleges with a teacher's diploma. Links have been established by some of the colleges with universities locally and overseas. Colleges which are not now also offering degree programs in conjunction with these universities are considering doing so in the future with a view to the colleges becoming degree granting in their own right in the foreseeable future.
Other tertiary institutions, including the University of the West Indies, and the University of Technology also have teacher-training programs.
Need analysis
Not all the teachers in the system are trained. According to the Ministry of Education statistics, approximately 20% of the 21,150 teachers at the primary and secondary levels are untrained. The Ministry of Education is attempting to reduce this number significantly by requiring that these persons become trained, and by stemming the influx of additional untrained teachers into the system (Ministry of Education and Culture, 1999).
Methods used to collect data
Data sources are the Ministry of Education and Culture tertiary unit, the Joint Board of Teacher Education and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica.
The Ministry of Education Tertiary Unit is a branch of the Ministry of Education and Culture (MOEC) with responsibility for the tertiary level of the education system.
The Joint Board of Teacher Education (JBTE), an arm of the University of the West Indies, is currently responsible for developing the syllabuses and coordinating the programs of the teachers' colleges. It is also, along with the Ministry of Education and Culture, responsible for the accreditation/certification of the graduates of the colleges not only in Jamaica but up to this year in Belize and the Bahamas as well.
The Statistical Institute of Jamaica is responsible for the research and housing of the statistical records in the island.
Findings
Goals
The vision for the education system of the island at the mega level is for close to
- 100% literacy (current figure?)
- equal educational opportunities with adequate facilities (financial, human and physical resources)
- skilled workforce able to use the resources of the country creatively and effectively to improve the social and economic conditions of Jamaica
Mission Statement of the Ministry of Education and Culture
"To establish and manage an effective system of human development for Jamaica, which harmonizes our educational and cultural resources, so that individual needs and aspirations are met, positive human values are maintained and social, cultural and economic development of the nation is enhanced".
The mission of the teachers' colleges is to produce quality teachers for the education system.
Instructional Analysis
The Learning Context
Validation of the need for teacher education.
The data source is the Tertiary Unit of the Ministry of education.
Trained teachers with content knowledge and pedagogical skills are required to "improve the quality of teaching in the system as well as to improve the image of the teaching profession" (Ministry of Education and Culture, 1999).
There are several categories of untrained teachers currently in the system:
· Untrained graduates - those who possess University degrees in specific disciplines but no teacher training
· Specialist 11 - comprising mainly Associate Degree graduates of the former College of Agriculture, and Diploma Graduates of the Edna Manley College and the University of Technology
· Specialist 1 - skilled artisans who lack academic qualification for training at a higher level and need upgrading of their professional competencies.
· Pre-trained Incomplete - comprising mainly persons who have been to college but need to repeat certain courses in order to receive the diploma certifying them as trained teachers
· Pre-trained Qualified for entry to college - comprising persons possessing the passes in four or more Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) subjects, but for various reasons have not yet entered college
· Pre-trained unqualified for entry - these do not have the minimum qualifications for entry to college.
The Learning Environment
Three of the eight colleges are located in Kingston and the rest in the rural areas. Living accommodations are provided but students have the option not to live at the colleges. The escalating cost of maintaining the colleges, borne by the Government of Jamaica along with modest fees charged to the students, limits the facilities available for implementing the programs of the colleges. Nevertheless some upgrading has been taking place especially in the provision of a number of computers for use by both staff and students. Students have access to a library located at each college.
The Learners
The learners, male and female, are all required to have passed a minimum of four subjects at the CXC level or it's equivalent to qualify for entry into the college. Students may however be admitted with only three subjects but they must obtain passes in a fourth subject before the diploma is awarded. Students with higher qualifications in their subjects of specialization may be granted advanced placement, which means they are exempted from the first year of the course. There is a fairly wide disparity among the students with respect to their ages and ability, the number of subjects and the level at which they were passed, the length of time between obtaining their qualifications and entering college, their motivation, and their financial and family commitments.
Stakeholders
The key players in the system are the Ministry of Education, JBTE, the Teachers' Colleges, students, tutors, the administrative and ancillary staff, schools and other employers, and parents.
Design and delivery subsystems
The instructor-led face-to-face delivery strategy is typically used in the teachers' colleges. Print is the most commonly used medium for the delivery of instruction and this is because of the relative low cost to produce, ease of distribution, and various instructional media attributes including portability. Some use is made of available technology for example, overhead projector, television, VCR, and an increasing use of computers. Plans are being made to train all tutors to use computers in teaching. The syllabuses for the different areas of the system are formulated under the direction of the Joint Board of Teacher Education (JBTE) and written by the tutors themselves. The tutors are responsible for the design of their instruction.
Inputs
To effect the delivery, each college has an academic staff, administrative staff, and an ancillary staff. The academic staff is required to have a minimum of five years post degree teaching experience, and must be teacher-trained with a minimum of a bachelor's degree but preferably a masters degree or higher. The administrative and ancillary staffs provide vital functions within the colleges.
Financial support: The teachers' colleges are funded mainly by the Ministry of Education and Culture (MOEC) with cost sharing from student fees.
Physical facilities: Infrastructure is provided for classes and recreation. Living accommodation is available for students at all the colleges but this is optional for students.
Feedback and interactions: Feedback is supplied to students instantly during classes, from analyses of course work and the results of the external examinations set by JBTE. Effectiveness of instruction in the teachers colleges is measured by the percentage rate of passes and the performance of the graduates in the field. A 70 % pass rate is considered to be satisfactory.
Assessment: - The forms of assessment are both internal and external. Internal Assessment of course work is conducted by tutors of the courses and includes end of unit achievement tests, performance assessment, portfolios and projects assessment. For external assessment, there are scheduled examinations that are moderated by the external examiners appointed by the JBTE. There is practice teaching with a research paper component that is assessed by the tutors and external examiners. For the external examinations use is made of multiple choice, structured, and extended essay items. Successful candidates are certified by the JBTE in conjunction with the MOEC.
Instructional design
Students are instructed in the preparation of lesson plans with the events of instructions similar to Gagne's nine instructional events. There should be an introduction to gain attention and orient learners to each lesson. This is followed by the body where links are made with previous knowledge, the stimulus is presented, response elicited, and opportunity is given for practice. The learner should be given guidance so as to engage in practice using instructional materials, and feedback provided. The lesson is then summarized and evaluated. There are two types of evaluation: evaluation 1 where the learners are evaluated in terms of what is learned and evaluation 2 which is a reflective process where different aspects of the lesson and the teaching performance of the instructor.
Dynamism
The system is dynamic in that it has to respond to changes in education policies in terms of supply and demand in the system. This requires changes in the programs offered. Currently the colleges are moving towards becoming degree-granting institutions. This change will affect the qualification requirement of tutors, the entry requirement of students, syllabuses, and output of graduates.
The programs in the colleges are being rationalized for cost effectiveness with the allocation of courses to different colleges. There are more demands in the use of technology therefore teachers have to be trained in its use. Resources are needed to meet these demands, and increased security for the protection of equipment. Teaching strategies will change as technology is incorporated into the curriculum.
Complexity
The system is very complex in that there is a multiplicity of functions to perform within and across subsystems (people, tools, and tasks). Teaching in itself is a complex task, which requires individual needs to be addressed, for example, to accommodate different learning styles, and different environments in which the task is performed. People are different and a variety of strategies are required for the system to work effectively to accomplish its goals.
Functionality
There are a large number of graduates who are performing successfully in the world of work. More tools - materials and equipment, are however required to meet the increasing demands for training to allow the graduates to be current and competitive. The functionality of the system is therefore limited by its resources. The society requires trained teachers in various specialized areas. Some courses in the colleges, for example in physics, are not attracting enough qualified students, and therefore a shortage of trained teachers is experienced in these areas.
Cybernetics
The system is cybernetic in that when there is a greater demand for more trained teachers the system allows for greater intake of students within the limits of the available resources. In instances where not enough graduates are produced the deficiencies may be temporarily addressed by other persons who have some expertise in the field.
Conclusion
Large numbers of teachers need to be trained and the resources for training are limited. Rationalization to reduce duplication of courses and to promote cost effectiveness is one strategy implemented by the Government. Other methods have to be found to maximize our resources. The time is ripe for 'stepping out of the box', using new paradigms, employing strategies that Kaufman (2000) refers to as critical success factor 1, "use new and wider boundaries for thinking, planning, doing, and evaluating/continuously improving: moving out of today's comfort zones'. New ways of effecting in-service training, for example, through distance education, to supplement the use of evening colleges, need to be explored. Income generating projects and other sources of funding are also required. Education is the way forward for economic progress and the improvement of the social conditions in the island. The long term cost of not investing enough resources in the training of quality teachers for the system will be far greater than the cost required to do so.
References
Kaufman, R. (2000). Mega planning: Practical tools for organizational success.
Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Ministry of education and culture. (1999). Report of task force on new directions in teacher education. Jamaica: Ministry of Education Youth and Culture, Tertiary Unit.
See APPENDICES below….




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