Erdiston College was opened on January 19, 1948, with a total of thirty-two (32) Barbadian students. The Principal was the late Mr A W Roberts. The training programme was of one year’s duration and the curriculum comprised Education, English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Religious Knowledge, Health, Physical Education, Music, Home Economics, Woodwork, Gardening, Visual Aids and Art.
The progress of the institution was so rapid that 1954 a significant milestone was reached when the College became a regional teacher institution. Fifteen teachers from Grenada, St Lucia, Montserrat, Dominica and Tortola were admitted to the College in that year. The year 1954 also heralded the beginning of the Two-Year In-Service Programme.
In 1964, Erdiston College became a constituent college of the School of Education of the University of the West Indies. The close relationship between the University of the West Indies and Erdiston College still continues especially in areas such as assessment and accreditation.
The decade of the seventies was of considerable significance with respect to the development and expansion of teacher training at Erdiston College. Several new programmes were introduced. These included the Induction Course, the Preliminary In-Service Course, the Erdiston – Community College Project for Secondary Teachers Training for Teachers in Approved Independent Secondary Schools, the Technical Teacher Training Programme and Easter Vacation workshops.
By 1987 it was clear that the College had successfully achieved its original goal of providing initial training to the island’s teachers. The mandate of the College was widened. The emphasis shifted from initial training to continuing professional education.
General Interest Courses were launched in 1987 with a view of providing continuing education for Barbadians interested in furthering their personal and professional competencies. Later, a Division of Continuing Education was established at the College and one-year Post Certificate Teacher Education programmes were started in Early Childhood Education, Physical Education and Remedial Education. Over the years, the Division has expanded its offerings to include community-oriented courses and trainer of trainers programmes in areas such as Counselling, Classroom Management, Information Technology, The Teaching of Language Arts, The Teaching of Mathematics, Book Binding, Effective Written Communication and Special Needs Education, to name a few.
Initial training during the latter half of the eighties was geared to the training of secondary non-graduate teachers in Technical subjects specifically Business Education, Home Economics and Industrial Arts.
In 1989, a project relating to the establishment of computer training at Erdiston College was started. The College received a gift of fifteen (15) computers and five (5) printers from IBM on 12th May, 1990. Since the establishment of this Centre, all teachers pursuing training at Erdiston College have received training in computer and computer-related skills.
The onset of the nineties was characterised by economic and financial difficulties nationwide. This turn of events influenced a change in training modality and the Post Certificate Programmes had to be restructured so that they could be offered on a part-time basis.
By 1992, the economic recession was so severe that the Government was actually considering the closure of the College. The view was held in some quarters that teacher training was not a priority at the time since the majority of primary school teachers had completed initial training.
In 1993, however, the Cabinet announced that Erdistion College would be restructured and that the Diploma in Education and the Certificate in Educational Management and Administration, two programmes previously offered by the University of the West Indies, would be offered at Erdiston College. All of the College’ stakeholders contributed to the restructuring exercise.
The delivery of the Certificate in Educational Management Administration and the Diploma in Education (Secondary) was started in 1994, one year after the introduction of a new continuing professional education programme, the Teachers’ Advanced Professional Certificate programme.
This programme concentrated on developing teachers to function as resource persons in their schools. Other developments occurring after 1993 include the introduction of programmes in Special Needs Education, Values Education, Art and Craft, Interpersonal Skills and Music as specialist areas.
A Trainer of Trainers programme, custom-designed for instructors of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, was started in 1996. A Resource Centre complete with Internet facilities was opened in the same year. This Centre functions to provide outreach services to schools and other educational institutions.
Since 1997, Erdiston College has been involved in providing training to teachers participating in the Education Sector Enhancement Programme. This programme provided teachers and principals with the competencies to integrate technology into the classroom. It also unshed in a new approach to teaching which was child cented and based on construtivist philosophies.
Throughout the sixty eight years of its existence, Erdiston Teachers’ Training College has held fast to and has built upon the aim enunciated by its first principal: “to provide a body of specially trained men and women who are capable of making the most of every child’s abilities, however great or small, and helping children to become men and women who can give of themselves to the community in which they live rather than being a charge upon it”.
Indeed, the College has been in the forefront of teacher education both at home and in the region, delivering certificate and diploma programmes for graduates at the primary and secondary levels on franchise from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. Within recent times, the College has developed new certificate programmes, a Bachelor of Education degree programme and a Diploma in Educational Leadership to meet the emerging needs of the education system.
The College is cognizant of the fact that teacher education must take into account recent developments at the regional level, such as the Caribbean Single market and Economy (CSME). Globalisation also compels teachers to function in a manner that satisfies international standards. In addition, the level of educational attainment must be raised in an effort to eradicate poverty as articulated in the Millennium Goals. It is, therefore, imperative that teacher education programmes assist practitioners in gaining the competence and confidence needed to reach the required professional benchmark at the levels of both initial training and on-going professional development. Moreover, today’s teachers must prepare their charges to function effectively in a marketplace that requires workers to think critically, use a range of technologies, manifest self-confidence, and work collaboratively as teams. To this end, Erdiston Teachers’ Training College has restructured its programming to include a greater focus on the use of constructivist approaches and the integration of a range of technologies across the curriculum. Recognising the increasing need for flexible and open learning, the College has commenced the delivery of some of its courses using a blended mode. Additionally, there have been changes in assessment, with a greater emphasis being placed on performance based assessment, as oppose to pen and paper tests.
Erdiston College recognises its capacity to impact the educational system locally, regionally and internationally. Therefore, as it looks towards the future, its mission is to become an internationally acclaimed educational institution providing high quality training and professional development for educators while advancing scholarly research and facilitating the delivery of programmes that are aligned with the educational needs of the society.