«Text: Louise Wheatcroft Field research: Louise Wheatcroft Editing: Lucia Fry Design: VSO Creative Services Cover photo: ©VSO/Shahula Rasheed The views ...»
There are plans for the EDC to be involved in two externally funded projects to train teachers and provide in-service training at regional centres. There are two main projects planned: a British Council project, which will involve setting up five regional centres within AECs, with trained professionals in each centre. The trainers will be selected from Male’ schools and will be trained in Male’ by the PDU. They will be responsible for identifying the training needs of local teachers. The overall aim is to develop the AECs as professional hubs.
The second project is the World Bank Integrated Human development Project, worth US$15.76 million. One of the components of the project will be a secondary teacher training project. Again this will involve setting up four more regional centres in different atolls. The project involves the building of accommodation blocks for students coming from the satellite islands12. Each centre will be managed by two professionals who will plan and conduct inservice teacher training programmes on local islands. This will require EDC support.
One of the major constraints to the success of many of the initiatives for training programmes is lack of human capacity. As noted above, PDU comprises just five local staff. EDC will be stretched to support these projects. Within Male’, it is the same individuals that are called upon to deliver any form of educational training, both pre-service and in-service.
One way to reduce the strain on EDC would be for schools to lead their own professional development programmes, but school-led professional development is rare. As examined in the previous section on leadership, school management staff are currently unable to lead training programmes because of their own lack of educational experience and background, and with their focus on administration. In a small number of schools workshops are organised by VSO teachers; principals in the larger schools run training programmes and there have been some excellent examples of peer support programmes, where teachers have visited other schools to observe good practice or more experienced teachers have worked with less experienced teachers. This form of professional development was highly valued by all the teachers involved.
VSO MALDIVES VALUING TEACHERS 20For supervisors to be responsible for the professional development of teachers, they need to be clear in their role and confident in their abilities to support teachers. For this to happen, they need good quality training in teaching and learning, and in supporting teachers, both trained and untrained.
‘There is a struggle between trained and untrained teachers and the teaching methodologies used. If all teachers are trained well and all use similar methods it will be more effective.’
ISLAND SCHOOL SUPERVISOR‘Many newly qualified teachers are forced to change their methodologies by teachers who are already in the system. Newly qualified teachers are heavily influenced by the more experienced teachers.’
MOE OFFICIALThis supports the need for in-service training programmes for all staff on effective teaching strategies and curriculum delivery in line with what is taught in the FE so that there is consistency within schools and newly qualified teachers are supported once they are in post.
To assist school management in leading in-service training programmes, it would help if there were materials available for them to use. Within the different education departments there are suitable materials that could be used for training teachers and these at the moment are not easily accessible for schools. If all schools were to be made aware of the materials and they were made easily available, then school management could apply them and conduct their own in-service training programmes.
Another form of improving professionalism in teaching is through discussion of educational issues and topics at all levels. Teachers have expressed a desire for more opportunity for them to get together and discuss teaching and learning matters.
‘The Ministry can’t provide in-service support to every island because it is too expensive. Some funding to allow teachers on a number of local islands to meet would be great. We could have planning meetings, discipline meetings, etc. That would motivate teachers. We would have the opportunity to be professional.’
TRAINED PRIMARY TEACHER‘Supervisors and heads need training because methodologies are changing; we need to keep up with the changes. We would like to have the chance to get together with other heads and discuss these things. A mechanism for sharing ideas with other schools would be good.’
PRIMARY HEAD TEACHERDiscussions were initiated surrounding the possibility of a principals’ forum in Male’ but so far it has not been effective. There were school heads’ conferences planned every year to bring together the heads from the atolls but this has financial constraints. Some meetings do take place but tend to be ad hoc.
It is evident that there are many initiatives now taking place regarding teacher training and professional development within the MOE. How all these projects will be managed by the different sections, particularly EDC, needs to be monitored for these ideas to succeed.
Improved training in teaching and learning for everyone in the teaching field is key to addressing a number of the other factors that affect teacher motivation. As mentioned in the previous section on leadership, training for school management and supervisors is essential for making initial teacher training effective, as this allows them to support the newly trained teachers in newer methodologies and when using the new materials produced by EDC. It also
21 VSO MALDIVES VALUING TEACHERSsupports them in providing the ongoing professional development of teachers that teachers are requesting.
Training for all school staff in differentiation techniques is also crucial not only for improving the quality of teaching and learning that takes place but also for addressing the issue of student behaviour and the broad student profile situation that teachers are struggling to manage.
Awareness-raising for parents will also go a long way to address many of the problems that teachers face. If parents are made aware of new ideas in teaching methodology and materials, they will support teachers more in the classroom and with their children at home.
It would also be hoped that if training for management has a stronger teaching and learning focus then they would be more confident to support teachers and would focus their energies more on developing the quality of teaching and learning in their schools.
Much progress is being made regarding training and professional development and the establishment of the PDU within the MOE is a major step. Training courses are being revised and written to improve supervisor training and there are a number of new externally funded projects in the pipeline with teacher training components. The Faculty of Education is also raising the number of students receiving pre-service teacher training.
3. Availability of teaching and learning materials (TLMs) The term teaching and learning materials refers to resources such as stationery, as well as curriculum materials, books, reference materials for teachers, science equipment, IT and photocopying/printing facilities.
The extent of the issue varies depending on the type of school. Many of the teachers in the community schools cited a lack of resources as a major obstacle to motivation, and being able to perform well in their jobs. Indeed, some of the schools visited had only the teachers’ guides and pupils’ books and no other reference materials. In the larger AEC schools, however, where there was a library, computer rooms and laboratories, the issue was effective use of such resources. There appears to be great disparity in the provision of TLMs. Some of the
issues cited were:
• lack of up-to-date TLMs
• relevance of the curriculum
• use of curriculum/lack of control over the curriculum and delivery.
Teachers in the community schools have to cope with the very minimum of resources. They have the teachers’ books, pupils’ books and a small amount of stationery such as chalk and paper.
‘I want to make teaching aids but we don’t have enough materials and the local shops don’t sell materials. We have spent the last two days without chalk.’
UNTRAINED PRIMARY/MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERMany of the teachers in the community schools are untrained and so are limited in their teaching ideas and strategies. For those teachers who are trained, some feel frustrated at not being able to implement the ideas they gained in training because of a lack of resources in their schools. They rely purely on the curriculum materials provided. Many of these teachers said that they would like access to teachers’ reference books for each of the subjects they teach, in order to upgrade their own content knowledge and to develop more ideas for teaching each subject.
VSO MALDIVES VALUING TEACHERS 22Funds to purchase TLMs have to be requested through the island office, which has no set budget. Accessing funds depends greatly on the relationship between the island chief and the school. Often it is the responsibility of the community to raise the funds needed for schools and, of course, each community has its own capacity for such fundraising. There is therefore no consistency between schools in terms of the TLMs that teachers have to work with. In turn, this creates inequality for children and in the quality of learning that takes place.
‘The biggest problem is a lack of resources. I am here to teach science but I have no equipment; just a few beakers and some candles. It is not enough to teach the curriculum.’
TRAINED MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERWhere schools do not have the necessary resources, there is a concern that the curriculum is not being delivered. It is strongly felt that it should be the responsibility of the Ministry, through the EDC, to provide the basic requirements to all schools, according to their needs.
Being provided with a structured curriculum can be a motivating factor for some teachers, especially the untrained teachers who need a framework to follow, but for others it is demotivating.
‘The major constraints are the teaching guides. Teachers are not trained to use the guides and if they are trained, then what? Can they have control over how to use them?’
MOE OFFICIALMany teachers are using the curriculum materials without any training and are not using them effectively. In fact, some schools have not even received the updated materials. There is a definite lack of clarity over the amount of control schools have over the use of the materials.
In some schools, teachers are confident in changing lessons and adapting the materials, but some teachers would like to adapt the materials to make them more appropriate for their children’s learning needs; they are often restricted by school management or parents.
‘Sometimes, parents complain if we don’t use the pupil’s books. Sometimes we don’t think the pages are appropriate but have to use them anyway.’
TRAINED PRIMARY TEACHERWith many of the island children not having sufficient command of English, teachers find it hard to deliver the curriculum as it is but feel powerless to change the situation. In one school, teachers recommended that for the children who could not read and write, they should use pre-school materials and not follow the pupil’s books. Parents were willing to do this and not spend their money on books that were too advanced for their children, but the school would not allow it.
In response to these issues, the EDC are doing two things:
1. revising the materials to make them more accessible for island children
2. attempting to develop mechanisms for training/orientating teachers around the new materials.
Through greater collaboration with the PDU and Faculty of Education pre-service teacher training, the EDC aims to train supervisors and trainee teachers on the use of the new materials. They also initiated the use of feedback from island teachers to inform the latest revision of materials. Training teachers, supervisors and school management on how to implement the national syllabus and materials is a crucial component for making these effective, but a link with parents is also needed, and all parties need to be clear on the use of the materials. This may address the concern that schools and teachers need a mechanism for identifying their own needs regarding materials, and a way of informing the EDC so that the materials match the needs more closely.
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4. Links with the community Teachers cited community as a very strong influencing factor on their motivation. Serving their community is very important to them.
‘I like this job because I want to make this island a good society. My ambition is to become a teacher.’
TEMPORARY TEACHER FOR ONE YEARTeachers identified the importance of having good relationships with parents and community in order for effective teaching to take place. When parents are supportive of teachers, teachers feel valued. Parents show their support through coming to school to talk with teachers about their children, through helping in class or school and by helping children with homework. Problems arise due to lack of parental awareness of different teaching strategies and their value; because of this they complain when children don’t produce enough written work in books. Teachers find this upsetting at times and can become demotivated.
‘If the parents are unhappy with me, I feel sad but I try to correct my mistake and have good relationships with them.’
UNTRAINED TEACHER‘Parents and teachers have a different perspective of education. Both are not working together. Both have perceived separate roles. Courses involving parents and teachers could be run in communities about a shared vision for education.’
TRAINED PRIMARY TEACHERThese issues could be addressed by working more closely with parents through workshops and greater communication between school and community. Other stakeholders reinforced this view and highlighted the importance of involving parents more in the schools’ decisionmaking processes through more clearly defined roles for parents.
This could be achieved through strengthening existing networks such as parent–teacher associations and school boards and through improving the educational programmes put out on radio and television. There is currently a radio programme entitled ‘Mudharisunge Dhuniye’ or ‘Teacher’s World’ produced by CCE (Centre Council for Continuing Education), which broadcasts several education programmes regularly. During discussion with stakeholders at the round table meeting it was suggested that these programmes could be focused on themes that could be effectively used as a motivational tool for teachers. It would also be a useful method of imparting important information to teachers and communities, particularly in the atolls, which would enable both school and parents access to the same information and would help in building relationships through all parties – MOE, school and parents – having shared goals. Education programmes focusing on teaching ideas and activities that would be useful for teachers and parents might also serve to address the issue of lack of resources in the atolls.
Through involving parents more in creating whole school discipline polices alongside teachers and management, a shared understanding of expectations and procedures would be established. This would serve to provide more support for teachers in the classroom regarding the issue of student behaviour, which will be discussed later in this report.