Since my return to Alberta from St. Lucia, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been so impressed by all of the excellent work completed by the SAGE partner institutions during these difficult times. I know during COVID-19 times work is not always easily completed and I thank everyone for their patience in completing surveys, organizing activities, participating in meetings and getting the SAGE work completed. The SAGE team was very pleased with the Gender webinar with over 150 participants and it has shown us that adaptation and change can be a good thing.
The SAGE Gender webinar, held on June 24 2020 has reached far more people than would have participated in a face to face workshop. Through all our learnings through COVID-19 we will learn to be more flexible, adaptable, and more technology savvy. The partnerships have signed contracts and the work is ramping up for all the SAGE institutions. The Country Support Coordinators are supporting their partners and the SAGE field office and SAGE team in Ottawa is available always to support our SAGE Canadian and Caribbean partners.
2. News, Events and Partnership Updates
SAGE Program Television Coverage
The SAGE program was highlighted on local television in St. Lucia. Take a look and listen at this excellent overview of SAGE provided by Milica Njegovan, Senior Program Officer for SAGE. She was speaking to a local TV station in St. Lucia on the occasion of the formal launch of the SAGE program in Rodney Bay in February 2020.
News and Events
Program Steering Committee (PSC)
The first SAGE Program Steering Committee (PSC) meeting was held virtually at the end of April 2020 and had presentations by the Senior Technical Advisor, the Technical Advisor on Apprenticeship, the Gender Specialist and Country representatives from Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica and St. Lucia for SAGE. The PSC approved the 2019-20 Annual Project Results Report and the 2020-21 Annual Work & Financial Plan. The next meeting of the PSC is planned for the end of October 2020 in Jamaica.
For those new to SAGE, the PSC membership is made up of 15 representatives including members from CARICOM, employers associations, climate change organizations, Industry and Commerce (CAIC), the Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies (CANTA), and the Association of Caribbean Tertiary Institutions (ACTI), as well as six country representatives from the NSCs.
National Steering Committees (NSC)
All NSC meetings took place in April 2020 and presentations were made by the STA and by the in country partners who shared the workplan for the coming year. All workplans were approved by the NSC’s and forwarded to the SAGE team to become a part of the Annual Work & Financial Plan to be presented to the Program Steering Committee. Members of the NSCs are representatives from business, institutions, preparatory schools, government officials and civil society.
The NSC committees will evolve and new members will be added based on the expertise that the committee may deem necessary as the programs progress.
In Belize, as across the Caribbean (and the world) COVID-19 has seriously disrupted education systems. Re-opening of schools: Preschools, primary and secondary schools are scheduled to open earlier than normal (August 10th) with measures being implemented for learning recovery to assist in filling the gaps due to early closure of schools in March 2020 as a result of COVID-19. Аt thе Теrtіаrу lеvеl (University of Belize and others) there are still no definite dates set for opening of tertiary institutions in Belize. The University of Belize facilitated students to finalize their end of semester programs with online classes in May 2020.
Partnership activities during the quarter included: preparation of the three year workplan; preparation of background information on Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture’s (IICA) operations in Belize; and meetings with the Agriculture Ministry’s Extension Officer to discuss training curriculum and preparing a capacity analysis report.
The education sector in Dominica has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Education has adopted digital learning, utilizing “The Chinese experience in maintaining undisrupted learning during COVID-19 outbreak”. Educators have access to a handbook on “facilitating flexible learning in COVID-19 outbreak”. The Government has also ensured that internet service is accessible in all schools. Students from the Centre where Adolescents learn to Love and Serve (CALLS) will be participating in the Caribbean Examination Council Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC), examinations in August 2020. These students are currently being taught digitally.
Online consultations have been ongoing with members of the National Steering Committee, where they were introduced to the SAGE-02 workplan by our local partners (DSC and CALLS). The coordination committee has been established with the local and Canadian partners. To date, two meetings of the coordination committee have been held. Members of the Program Advisory Team were nominated and a draft MOU has been developed between the two local partners (DSC and CALLS).
Consultations were also held with the Dominica Technical Vocational Training council and some stakeholders in the construction sector. Surveys were conducted with local industry and other stakeholders including the ministry of education, Dominica Youth Skills with regards to TVET in Dominica and a survey to CSO’s on the impact of COVID-19 to their organizations. Assistance was given by the CSC, to the local partners via Zoom and Skype to complete survey documents and to guide decision making with regards to communicating messages.
Grenada’s Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development, Religious Affairs and Information has temporarily closed all schools and learning institutions in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. Teaching and learning remotely commenced on March 18 2020 and continues to this date with students remaining home as a precautionary measure to avert the spread of COVID-19. In June 2020 the the Government of Grenada granted additional easement in the COVID-19 regulations to allow more businesses to operate in keeping with the established guidelines in the various sectors. The construction sector is already showing significant activity and training has started for workers in the accommodation sector, transport and food and beverage sectors as the government strives for consistency in our collective approach in dealing with visitors.
In Grenada, work was completed on the workplan. The partnership is working on questionnaires for stakeholders (questionnaires for government versus industry versus NGO/sectoral groups) to guide the consultations. Planning is taking place to develop an online survey to be send to stakeholders who cannot be reached via internet/telephone.
Another priority is completed the gender analysis. Once the plan is solidified, work will commerce on stakeholder consultations specific to gender. The gathering of in-country information on gender analysis will begin in the July 2020 to support this effort.
The Ministry of Education in Guyana has temporarily closed all schools and learning institutions in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. They have to date distributed learning packages to students in the hinterland and riverine areas and have ramped up their radio broadcast to schools programs as well as provide content specific teaching/ learning programs on the Guyana learning television channel. Parents are engaging in homeschooling using the content provided online by the ministry and other educational institutions.
The SAGE-04 team is making good progress on their plans for this period amidst COVID-19.The National Steering committee was established. With the workplan was also approved and this gave the team the green light and as such, the partners have been meeting regularly (virtually) with technical and vocational education and training experts in Guyana to discuss and review the institutions existing curriculum, comb through legal and expected protocol in keeping with TVET certification and accreditation, research codes and regulations in relation to the energy sector, all in preparation for the development of the curricula.
The partnership’s next steps will be to finalize the Program Advisory Committee and assess the capacity of the institutions and pave the way to support same. The Board of Industrial Training (BIT), the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (CTVET) and The Ministry of Education continues to lend support to ensure the success of the partnership.
In Jamaica, the education system was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. All schools were ordered closed by the Ministry of Education in March 2020 due to COVID-19. Since the physical closure of schools, teachers and students have been engaged to move learning and assessments to online platforms such as Blackboard. There will be no physical return to school for the majority of Jamaican students until September 2020.
The SAGE program caters to students in technical and tertiary training. For students in these categories school has physically re-opened. Students in technical training will be in school for the period June 8 2020 to July 3 2020. During this period students will be preparing for the assessments. Most tertiary institutions have opted to engage in online training for students with a look to return to the classroom in September 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the SAGE-05 team has set up a Microsoft Teams group and implemented monthly online team meetings in order to continue with project activities. The academic teams have met and work is underway with the curriculum. Change management has been identified as an area of development for the Jamaican partners. As a result a series of sessions are being planned for July 2020.
St. Lucia (SAGE-06)
Education officials in St. Lucia are expecting that there will be a safe re-opening of schools in September 2020 for all students. A committee comprising various stakeholders met in June 2020 to review the phased re-opening of schools which commenced on June 3 2020 and to address options for the academic year 2020-21.
The SAGE-06 inception mission took place in March 2020 immediately after the launch, which was reported on previously. The two local counterparts shared input on the partnership workplans and provided some context for the highlighting of certain training areas.
3. Focus on Apprenticeship
Update on Apprenticeship Research
The SAGE Apprenticeship specialist prepared an evaluation and best practices literature review of apprenticeship models from Australia, Canada, Germany, United State of America, Barbados, Cuba, and Trinidad & Tobago. The research found that apprenticeship in these countries is employer/enterprise driven and strongly supported by a legal framework. Funding an apprenticeship program is best done through co-financing between government and employers. Another key finding of the report was that a strong quality assurance system is needed to maintain the relevance and impact of the apprenticeship program in meeting labor market demands.
Consultations were held with the six SAGE partner countries during the month of May 2020. The meetings were held to share the apprenticeship component of the SAGE program with relevant stakeholder such as the NTA’s, officials from the respective Ministry of Education, employers and employer’s association and various industry associations. Feedback from the consultations indicate a high level of commitment and willingness to provide the necessary support for the development of an Apprenticeship model. Employers demonstrated a hopeful attitude that the SAGE Apprenticeship model could serve as a solution to skills shortage and high youth unemployment.
4. Spotlight on Gender and Climate Change
SAGE Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) Webinar-Building Capacity For Diversity and Inclusion in TVET Partner Institutions
Onwards and Upwards!
As part of its adaptation to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the resulting disruption of traditional gatherings and travel, the Skills to Access the Green Economy (SAGE) program staged the first of a series of webinars on June 24 2020, to continue to build capacity of partners and interested professionals in the six SAGE Caribbean countries of focus Canada and beyond.
The webinar engaged over one hundred and fifty participants from Caribbean and Canadian partner institutions delivering technical and vocational education and training and was focused on Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+), a framework for improving planning and program development. Participants were facilitated in examining the ways in which identity factors such as gender identity, race/ethnicity, age, geographic location (eg. rural vs urban) sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and, disability can contribute to vulnerability or privilege, mediate how individuals and groups experience the world, relate to each other and have access to information, resources and services for development.
The workshop, facilitated by the SAGE Gender Equality Specialist, Carol Narcisse, introduced participants to the GBA+ framework and its application in TVET and other policy and program development. Participants gained insights into, among other things, the importance of gathering data that includes information on and is dis-aggregated for different demographic groups and identities and which provide information on types of barriers faced by different demographic groups.
The multi-media, interactive session knowledge and practical experiences were shared on several types of institutional responses that partners could consider to mitigate barriers faced by potential, diverse student groups and to transform student recruitment, retention and graduation. Through a rich and animated exchange of comments and questions participants learned, shared and clarified how they could better contribute to inclusive, equitable opportunities for training and ultimately to diversity of the workforce in the green economy and to better futures for Caribbean peoples and communities.
5. Working from home during COVID-19
Working from Home
As COVID-19 has required everyone to adapt their working arrangements. This collection of pictures shows several SAGE team members at their home offices.
STA Pat Bidart and “Jane” at their office in Alberta, Canada
Joseph Lunan Technical Advisor, Apprenticeship at his home office in Jamaica
Project Officer Martin Callsen at his office in Ottawa, Canada
Dawn Francis working from home, Dawn is the Country Support Coordinator for Dominica
Dana Waithe at her home office, Dana is the Country Support Coordinator for Guyana
Country Support Coordinator for Jamaica, Nikeisha Sewell working at home with her new daughter Eleise Sewell Lewis. Congrats Mom!
Country Support Coordinator for Belize, Miguel Usher’s home office.
Carlos Canales, Senior Program Officer working at home in Ottawa, Canada with his new daughter Nour Canales-Zeidan. Congrats Dad!
6. SAGE team members in focus
Presenting Joseph Lunan, SAGE Technical Advisor, Apprenticeship
Joseph Lunan joined the SAGE Program team in March 2020. He holds a MSc. in Renewable Energy & Management from the University of the West Indies and has a background in Technical Vocational Training, Curriculum and Program Development and Apprenticeship. His work passion is facilitating and enable the transformation of youth through vocational education as a career path. Furthermore, Joseph has completed significant work to satisfy national requirements with respect to the development and implementation of a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) framework in Renewable Energy and Efficiency Conservation in response to Jamaica labour market demand.
Joseph envisions apprenticeship as fully embraced by SAGE partners as a means of developing a resilient and sustainable labour force that is responsive to the constant evolving labour demands of various economic sectors. In effect, apprenticeship must become an alternative pathway for career development and an economic growth strategy.
During his spare time, he enjoys fishing, hiking, and participating in various voluntary activities such as carrying out maintenance work at the Jamaica National Children Home and visiting infirmaries.
SAGE team member contact information
Susan Sproule, Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Bidart, Senior Technical Advisor email@example.com