|The Effectiveness of Teacher Resource Centre Strategy - Education Research Paper No. 34 (DFID, 1999, 257 p.)|
|CHAPTER SIX : Teacher Resource Centres in Nepal|
It is difficult not to conclude that there is a separation, operationally and conceptually between the work of training centres and work in schools. The assumption in Nepal seems to be that the transfer of pedagogical messages and resources from TRCs to classrooms is unproblematic.
The aim of improving the quality of teaching and learning in schools is clearly stated as being the ultimate concern of SEDUs and RCs. But, we are drawn back to that statement of hope expressed in the BPEP information brochure of 1992 for primary RCs to bring educational activities to the 'doorstep' of schools. In light of our observations we feel that this statement was prophetic: ideas and resources for quality improvement have been delivered by TRCs to the doorsteps of schools, but there they sit. It appears to us that teacher centres in Nepal have not been able 'to open the school door'.
Obviously we are using the 'doorstep' statement in a way not intended by BPEP, and for this we must apologise. Our excuse for doing so is that it summarizes so clearly the dilemma facing educators in Nepal. What do we do with all these untrained and under-trained teachers? What do we do with all those schools following very traditional approaches to teaching and curriculum management?
Our thinking, although neither new nor revolutionary, is to focus on schools and the teachers within them rather than the other way around. Rather than targeting individual teachers and observing them teach discrete lessons in their classrooms, school-based training might more productively focus on curriculum planning in specific subjects across grade levels with the group of teachers teaching the particular subject targeted for improvement.
If there is a role for the teacher centre it would be in training and supporting subject coordinators for primary schools and subject department heads for secondary schools. But, in order to succeed such a shift in focus for TRCs would have to be preceded by the development of curriculum management systems in schools. And, it is hard to imagine the development of curriculum management systems in schools without the establishment of staffing structures which accommodate heads of departments and subject co-ordinators, and for these positions to be formally recognised with a salary structure to match the increased responsibility.
We agree with the conclusion of the Tribhuvan University (1997) study with which we began this report, that "...injecting more resources such as materials, teachers and teacher training into the system (is not enough)... the management of such schemes and resources at the school level is fundamental." In this sense, the introduction of TRCs in Nepal may have been pre-mature. Schools just are not ready for them. The expectation was that TRCs could drive improvement in the quality of teaching and learning in schools and classrooms by up-grading training for individual teachers in courses taken away from their schools and classrooms. We do not believe, now, that this is possible. Schools must first be helped to provide a more fertile environment for change and development. Whether or not TRCs can contribute to such an endeavor remains an open question.
· RCs and SEDUs together with their local management committees present visible symbols of an attempt to decentralise educational provision and put more responsibility into the hands of local people.