The MINERD is responsible for initial Elementary and Secondary Education as well as continuing preparation of teachers in collaboration with MESCYT’s Continuing Preparation Department. These two ministries organize teacher preparation to cover the needs of in-service public school teachers. INAFOCAM is in charge of implementing the preparation.
INAFOCAM has set the following objectives for the continuing preparation of teachers
- • Implement preparation processes that develop teacher competencies that permit the practical use of reflexive and participatory methodologies.
- • Strengthen teacher capacity and competence so they can demonstrate quality work in the contexts in which they work.
- • Use professional development processes that support teachers in developing reflexive and inquiry-based practice that consider the reality of the students and the school.
- • Develop school and classroom leadership in the context of the community.
- • Promote a preparation that uses quality learning resources, including Information and Communication Technologies (OEI 2003, p. 12).
The institutions of Higher Education have been invited to present proposals for continuing preparation, which are evaluated by criteria set by the two ministries. The approved proposals are those that fulfill the structure established by INAFOCAM. Courses and workshops are being offered to in-service teachers all the time. Some are focused on pedagogical topics such as educational planning and evaluation of learning. Others focus on disciplinary content. The purposes and priorities of continuing preparation respond to curricular changes and innovations that the MINERD would like to implement. The tests administered to students and reports from classroom observations made by district level specialists are also used to detect continuing preparation needs.
INAFOCAM sets the prerequisites needed by teachers to be able to participate in continuing preparation programs. The main prerequisite is to be an active teacher in the public sector who teaches the subject or topic on which the course is based and to work in the region where the course will be offered. Teachers from the private sector are responsible for their own professional development. In some cases, private institutions cover the costs of the continuing preparation of their teachers.
MINERD and MESCYT develop scholarship programs so that as part of their continuing preparation teachers can participate in national and international conferences, as well as in Master’s and doctoral programs.
Other professional development activities are carried out in the country by the program called Support Policy for the Primary Grades. This program focuses on Spanish and Mathematics. Three institutions collaborate with the MINERD on this program. Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) works in the Regional Educational Directorates in Cibao and the north, as well as in the Herrera District 15-05 of Region 15 in west Santo Domingo. The Poveda Cultural Center attends the Regional Directorates of the south and of Santo Domingo. The Organization of Ibero-American States deals with the three Regional Directorates in the eastern part of the country. This program offers professional development to primary teachers, and district general specialists and Mathematics specialists, as well as teacher coordinators and assistant principals that work with teachers.
For Mathematics in the zone it attends, PUCMM uses a series of textbooks designed for the program. The books were written to be aligned with the curriculum proposed by MINERD in order to achieve its objectives. Manipulatives have been distributed that were selected in accordance with purposes of the Mathematics classes (base ten blocks, Cuisenaire rods, pattern blocks, tangrams, measurement tools, etc.). The teachers are also supported by coordinators in their schools. This program originated in another initiative in the PUCMM that was funded by the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) that began in 2006. At least 150 h of face-to-face professional development have been offered to teachers. The mathematical concepts taught at this level and the corresponding competencies have been emphasized. A profound knowledge of the Mathematics curriculum (topics and strands, knowledge, communication, reasoning, problem solving, connections, valuing Mathematics, decision making) and efficient use of class time have also been emphasized.
Recently the country has added 4 % of the gross domestic product to provide additional resources for education. With this additional funding it is hoped that initial preparation programs will offer true opportunities for young people interested in becoming educators, as well as for in-service teachers who wish to improve their teaching. For Mathematics the MINERD plans to continue the teacher professional development that has been offered to teachers in grade 1—4, and expand it to the rest of the pre-university system. The programs must be restructured to address the standards for those levels and to respond to the curricular changes proposed in 2012.