How we promote Commonwealth values (Part 2)
The Commonwealth Education Trust is proud to be an accredited Commonwealth organisation. We strive to meet these principles of The Commonwealth Charter – a declaration of the key values and objectives of the Commonwealth:
- Access to Health, Education, Food and Shelter (11)
- Importance of Young People in the Commonwealth (13)
- Recognition of the Needs of Vulnerable States (15)
Through our low-cost, digital, online platform, Teach2030, we provide accessible and affordable Teacher Professional Development (TPD). Young people then become better learners due to having a more highly skilled teacher – directly impacting their future lives and opportunities. Most notably, our ‘Growth Mindset for Teachers and Learners’ course changes cultural attitudes by building a more respectful community. Meanwhile, our partnerships enable collaboration and skill sharing between the nations of the Commonwealth, whether this be through our Teacher Learning Communities (TLCs), highly contextualised courses or additional activities.
Since 2003, and the Aso Rock Commonwealth Declaration, Nigeria, technology has been at the forefront of educational development within the Commonwealth.
‘Education must play a crucial role for people, both young and old, for them to optimise their opportunities. We encourage all governments, noting the value of distance education and the benefits of technology.’ (The Commonwealth: 2019)
Since then, the number of those in under resourced countries owning a pay-as-you-go smartphone has increased. Currently, 66% of the world’s population now have access to the internet (ITU:2022). Smartphones are therefore the easiest, cheapest, and most convenient way for teachers to access TPD on a regular and long-term basis.
The Commonwealth Education Trust provides teachers working in under resourced settings across the globe with a low-cost, digital, professional development solution through our ed-Tech, award winning platform, Teach2030.
Teach2030 courses, materials and virtual activities focus on strategies to increase learning outcomes and classroom knowledge. In our digital Teach2030 community, teachers feel safe discussing their classroom practice, knowing they will be supported by peers worldwide. This allows every teacher to remain committed to a trajectory of excellence.
Digital TPD enables teachers to engage more frequently and proactively with content; as it can be re-visited, or paused, for note taking. As teachers control their speed of learning, they progress through courses at their own rate. This ownership promotes independent learning and autonomy, along with greater privacy and confidence. This eliminates the fear of being perceived ‘weak’ by leadership.
Most importantly though, digital TPD can reach anyone worldwide, no matter how isolated their location – providing every educator with the opportunity to develop their skills and improve the lives of the students they teach.
‘We view ICTs as powerful instruments of development…delivering savings, efficiencies and growth in our economies…offering opportunities to overcome the constraints of remoteness.’ (The Commonwealth: 2019)
Yet, digital TPD can also be completed on school premises in a whole-school approach on computers. It is a truly blended learning opportunity, where teachers can discuss and try new ideas out in classrooms, before providing feedback to peers. The whole teaching team can be focused on the same strategies. It is cost efficient for school leaders too, as sessions will not need to be repeated for absentees.
Our courses are designed for both whole school and independent learning. Easy-to-use and low data, all teachers receive contextualised, assessed, and certified TPD materials through their smartphone or digital device. Headteachers and their teams feel supported with specific training to encourage time tabled TPD to become standard in schools, ensuring teachers learn and develop their practice continuously. All materials can be timed and paced to suit the needs of individuals and schools.
Yet, for digital TPD to be able to be accessed successfully, learners need to be able to use their device to the best of their ability.
Unfortunately, ‘less developed Asian economies in the Commonwealth and small states are falling behind in digital skills-readiness, suggesting there is an urgent need to develop ICT-focused skills within education systems…Other Commonwealth countries, where a large portion of the population lacks basic ICT skills, such as Pakistan, may focus on strengthening basic digital literacy’ (The Commonwealth: 2023)
This is why we have developed our free Teach2030 course, ‘Become a Digital Learner: Using Your Smartphone’. It has been specifically designed to improve digitally literacy, specifically of how to use their hand-held device more effectively. Lessons aim to increase connectivity, including how to: access and write emails; use search engines and social media platforms; and capture images and videos. The Commonwealth Education Trust is working hard to improve the digital skills of users worldwide. After all:
‘The Commonwealth can contribute meaningfully to measures aimed at bridging and closing the digital divide, and are resolved to do so. ICTs provide an opportunity for individuals to learn, to grow, to participate more actively in society and to compete more effectively in markets.’ (The Commonwealth: 2019)
The power of the internet lies in connectivity and The Commonwealth Education Trust can supply quality digital TPD to all teachers, no matter their circumstance, worldwide.