Closing Ceremony for the Caribbean Center of Excellence for Teacher Training

Friday, September 10, 2010
Keynote Address

The Centers of Excellence for Teacher Training (CETT) was launched by former President George W. Bush at the 2001 Summit of the Americas and has been funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID. This remarkable program has been dedicated to improving the teaching of reading, and ultimately, improving student literacy in the first three grades of primary schools, through three centers across our Hemisphere, operating in the Andean Region of South America, in Central America, and here across the Caribbean.

This project is at the heart of the American Government’s educational investment in the Caribbean, and is a thoughtful and effective response to the challenges of improved literacy for the youngest of the Caribbean people. Since its launch, CETT has been hard at work in several English-speaking Caribbean countries, namely, Belize, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago; and beginning this year the program was expanded to include five more Caribbean countries -- Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda; British Virgin Islands, Montserrat; St. Kitts and Nevis.

What Has This Program Done?

Under the technical and management leadership of the Joint Board of Teacher Education at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies, CETT initially focused began in September 2002 with Jamaica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The program consists of three cardinal elements:

  • introduction of a more child-centered, interactive approach to the teaching of literacy in the Caribbean region.
  • offering training and ‘follow-up’ support to teachers; preparing them to teach reading and thereby making them better Reading Instructors; and
  • helping our Caribbean partner countries to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge to participate fully in the competitive global economy; by improving the quality of education in the region and increasing children’s reading capabilities.
  • In 2004 two more -- Guyana and Belize – joined the program ahead of schedule, allowing them to train Master Teachers in 2004 rather than in 2005, as was initially planned.

Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago were later added and these two latter countries are now, fully self-financed. The eagerness of these countries to allocate national funds to accelerate access to the C-CETT, speaks to the program’s enormous success. In 2007 with additional funding from the Department of State, CETT was able to bring its energies to The Commonwealth of Dominica where the program was enthusiastically received and established in 61 of its 65 primary schools.

One year ago, The Office of the Education Reform Unit of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, based on the impact of this program, officially requested that an additional five Caribbean states be incorporated in the program. USAID fulfilled this request in April of this year, so today all nine OECS States are partners and beneficiaries of this program.

U.S. Government funding for CETT is now coming to its end, but the program will continue. With this inevitable transition in mind, for the past two years the Joint Board for Teacher Education has focused on a number of critical sustainability tools:

  • Establishing governance, management and advisory structures;
  • Creating an online delivery system thereby promoting greater ‘online’ access to the program;
  • Developing the instruments to gather baseline and performance data to guide Reading Instruction and to gather Baseline Data;
  • Establishing the Information and Communication Technology support for the management and delivery systems;
  • Planning action research interventions and teacher training in support of Classroom Strategies in the Teaching of Reading and Action Research Interventions; and of note,
  • And actively reviewing the activities and operations of each year while developing an appropriate ‘sustainable strategy’ to ensure the successful continuation and expansion of the program to all schools within each Stakeholder Country.


Before I close my remarks with some thoughts on how we measure the success of CETT, I wish to take this opportunity 5to acknowledge and thank some very important private sector partners who have made significant, pivotal, and greatly appreciated contributions to the ability of this Presidential Initiative to reach so many Caribbean teachers and students. These esteemed CETT Partners include Scholastic Books, Pearson, DHL, Book Merchant whose contributions, taken together, amounted to $1.2 million (US.) On behalf of the U.S. Government and all of our Caribbean friends who have and will continue to benefit from CETT, thank you!

How Do We Measure The Success Of This Program?

As with all projects, there are many statistical and technical measures of success – the certainly CETT can rightfully boost of a long list of such positive measurements – numbers of teachers trained, numbers of young Caribbean pupils reached with new reading methodologies, improving test scores, etc. But let me share with you one very personal “measurement” from a single teacher, and a single young student:

Teacher Farona Freemantle, Grade 3, Breadnut Hill Primary (country?) gives us this perfect “measurement of success:”

“The classroom library is valuable as it helps to make the classroom more reader friendly; provides interesting reading materials appropriate for grade level; and greatly enhances the appearance of the classroom.

I now am giving more opportunities for independent as well as guided reading. I also am reading more to my students. One day I decided to read a story to the class.

Chevaughn, a boy who had never shown interest in books, selected the book that I should read to the class. It was “Peter and the Wolf.” After reading the story, Chevaughn asked me to read the story to him again. Everyday, he would try to read this book. One day, he came and read the book for me. It brought tears to my eyes. Chevaughn is now one of my STAR students!” This compelling story and all the associated technical statistics, tell us something irrefutable – CETT is a true success.

I congratulate you one and all; and wish for you, continued success in the years that lie ahead.

Thank you.

University of the West Indies Cave Hill, Barbados

Last updated: August 19, 2013

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