«Text: Louise Wheatcroft Field research: Louise Wheatcroft Editing: Lucia Fry Design: VSO Creative Services Cover photo: ©VSO/Shahula Rasheed The views ...»
The following strategies for implementation in this policy have been identified as key to
VSO’s work in the Maldives:
Policy 5: Raise the quality of education at all levels
• Provide basic facilities and resources to all schools, irrespective of location.
• Provide school-based or cluster-based professional development opportunities for teachers.
• Localise, regionalise and strengthen school supervision and management, while centrally directing the school expansion and quality improvement.
• Develop an appraisal system to measure and recognise the quality of service and productivity of teachers and administrators.
• Provide opportunities for teachers to upgrade their qualifications.
• Increase trained teachers from 63% to at least 80%.
• Identify learning difficulties and special needs of students early and provide early assistance and intervention.
Policy 9: Strengthen educational policy formulation and management:
• Ensure the school heads and supervisory staff obtain degree-level training.
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Policy 12: Increase the human resource capacity of the education sector:
• Provide ongoing in-service teacher training.
• Train specialists in curriculum measurement and evaluation and policy formulation.
• Provide opportunities for staff upgrading, further qualification, and incentives for staff to serve in the remote areas.
• Develop and begin implementing a Human Resource Development Plan for the education sector.
3. MOE Education Strategic Action Plan 2004–2006 (available in Dhivehi only;
no official translation)
Key objectives related to teacher issues:
• Develop the relationship between parents and schools.
• Improve the quality of teachers.
• Retain good teachers and recruit new teachers.
• Improve the school supervision system.
• Make information regarding educational policies and targets available to all.
• Link educational policy with National Development Plans.
• Improve MOE systems.
• Improve training for school management.
• Create a network of schools.
4. MOE: The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports – Maldives The plan outlines the following strategies for meeting the commitments made at the
Improving educational efficiency through quality enhancement ‘Properly trained and motivated teachers, effective management and supervision, appropriate facilities and learning materials and a curriculum with suitable subject distribution and content are basic requirements for acceptable educational quality.’ Improving the quality of basic education and the quality of teachers ‘What is needed is to improve the professional competencies of the current cadre and recruit new local teachers with minimum academic and professional qualifications as the need arises.’ ‘The quality of school staff will be improved through training of heads, regular and closer supervision of schools by trained supervisors, stronger emphasis on continuing in-service education of teachers, provision of incentives to teachers, such as bonuses, housing, to work in remote schools, recognition and rewarding of good teachers, and motivating teachers for self-learning through bonuses, salary adjustments etc.’ Each of the above policies and strategies for implementation will be examined in further detail in the report, in relation to their impact, current practice and recommendations.
DONOR AGENCIESThe World Bank’s Third Education and Training project, with a focus on pre- and in-service teacher training, is now in its fourth and final year. It has funded the training for degrees and masters in educational fields such as curriculum development.
The British Council has supported education in the Maldives for many years through scholarships funding and funding for projects through its small grants scheme. It has recently agreed to fund a much larger project: the ‘AEC Project’ – although not yet finalised, it will have a teacher training component and will be based in four atolls.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has also provided funding for school health projects.
It is clear that the Maldives government is committed to improving education. The evidence for this is the high level of financial commitment made, the policies that are in place and the level of commitment of the people within the MOE. Having achieved near universal basic education, the watchword and the priority now is ‘quality’. The aim of this research is to examine closely one factor that influences the quality of education – that of teacher motivation and its affect on teachers’ performance as a means of assisting the government in its drive for quality education.
1. school leadership and management
2. training and professional development
3. availability of teaching and learning materials (TLMs)
4. links with the community
5. teacher workload and conditions
6. student behaviour and student profile
7. school building and facilities.
A number of other influencing factors were also cited. These are examined at the end of this section on research analysis.
1. School leadership and management ‘Teaching and learning is the most important activity taking place in schools. The MOE layer is very important; we concentrated on access and not student/classroom situations, more attention needs to be placed on teaching and learning.’
MOE OFFICIALThis feeling represents the current situation in the Maldivian education system. Universal primary access has almost been achieved and now the focus is on providing quality education.
In the round table meeting, much discussion was generated on the topic of school leadership and management. The consensus of opinion is that, currently, the leaders are administrators.
Throughout the research process, three underlying issues became apparent under the topic of leadership: selection of school heads; training; and frequent change.
1.1 Selection of school heads ‘Appoint good quality teachers in management.’
MALDIVIAN EDUCATIONALISTStakeholders are calling for a review and revision of the policy for appointing school heads.
Experienced teachers with an educational qualification are needed for effective school management. A school leader must have many skills. Administrative skills are needed so that schools run smoothly and effectively, but they also need to have an educational background in order to understand fully students’ and teachers’ needs and how best to meet them.
‘If you run a business, I don’t think a manager who doesn’t know business will be a good manager.’
1.2 Training Because a school leader needs many skills, the training for such a post is crucial in preparation for the demands of the job. Not only should the selection process be well thought out but the training provided also needs to be to an appropriate level. Training should therefore include a focus on curriculum, as well as on management10 and leadership. There is also a need for middle management training in order to support the teaching and learning that goes on in the classroom.
The issue of leadership and training and professional development go hand in hand. In order for teachers to receive the support that they are asking for in the classroom – both professionally and in terms of raising the status of teachers – then supervisors and management need further training. This is discussed in more detail in the following section on training and professional development, and in the section on recommendations at the end of the report.
Leadership also influences the issue of workload. Teachers are concerned that management staff are distant from the classroom situation and are not listening to teachers enough. As a result, they do not understand the teachers’ situation and make unrealistic demands regarding workload. This is also discussed in the section on workload and addressed in the recommendations.
1.3 Frequent change Many school heads are moved around at short notice and frequently. Yet heads need a set period of time in a school in order to make an impact and ensure commitment. The change of heads is also unsettling for teachers. There are a number of occasions where heads are moved on because of complaints from the community. There needs to be a more appropriate means for monitoring and appointing school heads rather than moving them around, as this can have adverse effects on the teachers and on the long-term development of the school.
Throughout the research, many similar solutions were suggested by both teachers and other stakeholders. The need to improve the role of supervisors to support teachers in the classroom, and for school leaders to have an education background was echoed throughout the interviews. This is supported by the policy-makers who are currently striving to address these issues through training programmes within the newly established Professional Development Unit (PDU) and through revision of school head appointment procedures.
2. Training and professional development
In schools where teachers have access to professional development from supervisors giving constructive feedback, VSO teacher input and workshops, school-led workshops, teacher exchange systems or teacher training programmes, teachers feel valued and enjoy learning and improving their teaching skills and knowledge. Where there is a lack of access to quality training or in-service professional development, teachers feel devalued, not supported professionally and lack confidence.
Four possible reasons for this are:
• School management is not trained to support the professional development of their teachers.
• School management focuses on administration not teaching and learning.
• There is no forum for discussion of educational issues – no opportunities for teachers/supervisors/heads to meet.
• Lack of capacity at Ministry level to deliver teacher training courses and in-service professional development.
Training and professional development is key to improving the quality of education being delivered in the Maldives. It is important that people in education at all levels are updated with current ideas and methodologies in order for teachers to feel supported. Innovations such as curriculum change also require training at all levels if they are to be implemented effectively.
In the current approach to teacher training, there are two main phases: pre-service initial teacher training and the ongoing professional development of teachers, which enables them to develop their skills as professionals.
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2.1 Pre-service teacher training According to the Ministry of Education (Educational Statistics 2003 Maldives), 33% of teachers are untrained but expected to perform the same duties as trained teachers.
‘In my first month of teaching there have been so many difficult things; not knowing how to write a lesson plan, learning how to use the textbooks, students not behaving – shouting and throwing things; this makes me sad, sometimes I have to repeat the lesson.’
UNTRAINED PRIMARY TEACHERIn order to fill the vacant teaching posts in schools, untrained temporary teachers are appointed. These are usually school leavers with O-level passes. They are expected to take on the role of class teacher without any training or school orientation programme.
They are often extremely motivated but find it hugely challenging to take on the duties of teachers. Consequently, over time, many become demotivated because of a lack of professional support.
‘Now I have only my own ideas, I want more ideas. I would like to go on a course in Male’.’
UNTRAINED PRIMARY TEACHERUsing temporary teachers is a short-term measure but the needs of these teachers must not be overlooked because they are currently responsible for teaching thousands of students.
Maintaining their motivation is important, and is linked to improving the quality of teaching and learning in schools. Ideally, they need access to pre-service training either in Male’ or at one of the regional centres and they need professional support and development while in post beforehand.
The Faculty of Education is responsible for pre-service teacher training and now offers courses at all levels from the Advanced Certificate in Teaching Primary (ACTP) to degrees.
The College is based in Male’ where most of the courses are conducted, but in response to the demand for more teachers to be trained, regional centres have been established where teachers can attend courses within their region. There were plans to have five regional centres running by the end of 2004. However, the Faculty of Education has not been able to recruit staff for four of the centres; attempts to recruit from local schools failed because the students were not satisfied with the quality of teaching and wanted to be taught by faculty staff. The number of students receiving training has tripled in the last two years but the human capacity is currently greatly reduced while lecturers are away upgrading their own qualifications, funded by the World Bank’s Third Education and Training Project.
There is a heavy reliance on part-time lecturing staff recruited from the local schools and MOE departments. The majority of these people already have full-time commitments. How to maintain quality and consistency of teaching when numbers of students are increasing so quickly is an issue that needs consideration. Modules are being developed at the Faculty of Education with trainer’s guides to support all trainers in delivering courses; the intention is to train individuals from atolls on the materials within each module. However, because of a lack of capacity, it has been difficult to identify suitable people for training.
2.2 In-service teacher training and professional development Teachers who are trained also require further professional development in order to continue improving their skills and to raise the quality of the education that they deliver.
‘Access to good quality training indicates that we are valued and supported professionally.’
TRAINED PRIMARY TEACHER
• Provision of in-service teacher training programmes to improve teaching and learning in the atolls and Male’ with a plan to cover all the atolls within three years, delivering programmes depending on the needs of the schools.
• Provision of supervisor training in Male’. The PDU has just begun the first round of supervisor training courses, with two batches of 40 per year planned for those supervisors who are interested and have potential.
• Provision of content upgrading programmes for primary teachers in English, maths, combined science and Dhivehi, aiming to provide a bridge for higher-level studies.
• Provision of basic skills training for temporary teachers in modular form.
Currently there are only five local staff working in the PDU and in order to carry out the planned programmes, they have to rely on supervisors in Male’ and those who have undergone the training themselves to deliver training in the islands. This may mean taking them away from their current jobs for short periods.