Appearing on the Umoja radio programme recently, Harrigan-Underhill said her experience from being the principal of Elmore Stoutt High School — which has the single largest fraternity of teachers in the territory — highlighted that the BVI has a few educators that are well trained in specific content areas.
She said some teachers may have accounting or marketing degrees, but they may not be trained as an educator. Therefore, the Education Institute’s role is to work in conjunction with the Education Ministry to identify those persons and put a programme in place based on the standards and requirements jointly agreed upon by both institutions.
“As to what that standard looks like, it is [determining] what we want them to learn, what do we want them to know and when do we want them to know it by. So, all of that has to be set in a joint collaborative approach. As I sit and work daily in my new role, there is very little I will do without the voice of the Ministry of Education,” Harrigan-Underhill said.
She also noted that because the institution is new and is starting from the ground up in teaching educators, people must be mindful that policy drives a lot of the work the institute is doing and will be undertaking in the future.
“[This is] policy from the Ministry of Education as well as the HLSCC standpoint. We also have to be mindful that policy should be in place, and I am sure they are being developed as we speak even to attract the best,” Harrigan-Underhill said.
“It starts from the recruitment stage. So, we are recruiting based on an established standard. Requirements have to be based on, say, for instance, you must have a bachelor’s degree and you will be paid a certain amount as well. We also have to address the issue of salary and remuneration while we talk about training. All these things go hand in hand,” she added.
Harrigan-Underhill said she can sit at her desk and create ‘the most fabulous, eloquent and attractive’ training programme but it must be driven by the requisite resource and support. She reiterated that recruitment is a critical part of the institute’s operation, and it is pertinent that some sort of standard is maintained.
“So, it’s not just about saying we want the brightest and the best but also making sure that they are paid for their skill set,” she said.