Distance education and teacher professional development in the Caribbean : a case study of programme development
This thesis examines the role of distance education in teacher professional development in the Caribbean. It does so through a case study of the University of Sheffield's collaborations with regional partners to provide courses at Certificate, Diploma and Masters level. The thesis critically reviews the origins and development of this programme in the context of educational policy and practice in Trinidad and Tobago and explores the subsequent 'caribbeanisation' of the programme. The research, which examines the underlying philosophy that has been driving the programme since its inception, is informed by a close reading of Freire and recognition of the importance of understanding and respecting the cultural inheritance and practices of the learners. Though the research is located within the Caribbean, consideration is given to the effects of globalisation on the education systems of small island developing states and how world classifications are constructed in a manner which tie these countries into states of dependency. Particular attention is given in the thesis to the nature of education collaborations within the settings of developing countries and their role in challenging the cultures of silence which envelop the relationship between developed and developing countries. The thesis argues that distance education is primarily about 'education' and less about 'distance' and that the hidden curriculum is as powerful in this context as it is in a traditional face-to-face University environment.