The ideal Caribbean person is someone who lives in harmony with their physical and social environment. This is the perspective of Latoya Wedderburn-Rose, a manager in the Syllabus and Curriculum Development Department at the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). Her organisation is the region’s examinations and awarding body with responsibility for developing the syllabuses used to prepare students for regional examinations. It is also one of TAPSEC’s partners in the “Mainstreaming Green Learning Concepts in the Educational Syllabus” project, which was designed to help create the ideal Caribbean person to drive the regional shift towards sustainability. CXC’s mandate, which it has undertaken since its establishment in 1972, is to provide a range of certifications that respond to the region’s needs, making it the ideal organisation to help lead the educational aspect of this regional transition.
For Jodine Williams, Senior Manager of CXC’s Syllabus and Curriculum Development Department, this TAPSEC-supported project was an amazing way to shift CXC into a new space amid the growing conversation about the regional response to sustainability and climate change. Through this initiative, CXC could influence the educational shift by creating syllabuses that supported the regional transition simply by introducing students and teachers to new sustainability concepts at the upper secondary and post-secondary levels.
The seeds of this particular project were sown in 2018, with the GIZ-funded Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance (REETA) programme. As part of a larger effort to improve regional teaching materials and methods, the REETA programme supported the development of a digital toolkit for a new Green Engineering Syllabus, teacher training and a concept paper advancing the move to “green” the CXC curriculum. Based on the success of the REETA programme and with the support of the TAPSEC programme, that concept has blossomed into this three-phase project. Phase one involved enhancing teacher capacity, while phase two focused on integrating concepts around renewable energy and energy efficiency into 10 syllabuses at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) levels. In phase three, CXC oversaw the creation of relevant teaching and learning resources, which are currently housed within the organisation’s online Learning Institute platform. The project is now in the close-out phase, with two of the updated syllabuses going into schools in September of 2022 and the remaining ones proceeding through various stages of review in preparation for future implementation.
TAPSEC’s support for this initiative came in the form of facilitating the hiring of consultants from the University of Guyana (UG), who guided CXC in infusing those greening concepts into the curriculums. TAPSEC also enabled CXC to host a number of training workshops, including one specifically designed to support teachers with the implementation of the new research-based School Based Assessments (SBAs) related to the updated curriculums.
Wedderburn-Rose describes the collaborative experience as “a beautiful relationship” and “a team effort” with a level of collaboration that allowed all parties to work together to overcome the challenges inherent in pivoting to a digital execution in the midst of the pandemic. Williams also praises the partnership with TAPSEC, describing it as “an absolute pleasure” and a “meaningful and productive experience” that made it very easy to facilitate the necessary changes involved in shifting to a digital space. This spirit of collaboration is one of her biggest takeaways from the experience of this project, as it underscores her belief that “once we are able to collaborate and, in a collegial way, work towards a common goal, we will be able to do amazing things within this region”.
Feedback from the teachers involved has been similarly positive and CXC is looking forward to more insights from the educators and students at the forefront of the rollout at the end of the next academic year. Ultimately, Williams and Wedderburn-Rose expect to see this project bear fruit in the form of a growing appreciation for sustainability and an understanding of the importance of efficient management of regional resources. After all, education is never limited to the classroom. Having learned these new “green” concepts, students will be primed to make subtle but important changes within their schools and homes. As they step into adulthood and take leadership roles within their communities, they will be well-prepared to help guide the region towards its sustainability goals. That is how a single curriculum development initiative can create a huge impact on a regional scale. With this project, says Williams, “we would have impacted families, and when we impact families, we impact society. And once we impact society, then we can anticipate change”