|Primary Teacher Education in Malawi: Insights into Practice and Policy (CIE, 2002, 144 p.)|
|Chapter 8: The Colleges And Their Tutors|
Respondents appear quite satisfied with the college courses and with their own role in them. Nearly all of them disagree that 'most tutors do not know how much about teaching primary pupils' and 70% think that 'college courses are well designed to prepare students for primary teaching' despite evidence to the contrary from our other data. Most disagree that there is too much theory in the college course, and 70% do not think that the subject courses are difficult.
In interviews the complaints concerned mainly the length of the course. Tutors felt that they had to cram far too much into a short time and they wanted to return to the older form of a one-year or two-year residential training. Otherwise over 80% were satisfied that most of the curriculum did not need much revision. However 20% thought assessment needed a complete rethink, and 30% said the same about language.
Tutors in both colleges put the blame for low student achievement squarely on the students themselves, their poor language skills, low academic level and lack of motivation. Shortage of time, poor facilities and large teaching groups are seen as being only partly responsible, with St. Joseph's putting more emphasis on these factors than BTC. Notably few think poor library facilities are important, yet the libraries appeared inadequate and not friendly to students.
Tutors do not hold clear positive views about learner-centred teaching. They believe in teaching facts, and think a good memory is useful. Perhaps that is why they ask their students a lot of questions. They say students learn best in small groups and by asking questions, but few seem to organise their teaching that way. The tutors sound satisfied -perhaps even a little smug - about the curriculum: the college courses and their teaching are fine and if the students find things difficult it is due to their limitations. What might be considered surprising is that nowhere in the interviews or other data from tutors did they suggest ways of coping with the student problems they diagnosed. This perhaps reflects a perception of their own role as itself professionally restricted, and a lack of sense of agency which would have enabled them to try to change the situation.