|The Malawi Integrated In-Service Teacher Education Project: An Analysis of the Curriculum and Its Delivery in the Colleges (CIE, 2000, 75 p.)|
|Chapter 2: The Curriculum Strategy|
In most cases tutors use the Handbooks exclusively as a source book and a teachers guide, saying they value them highly. A few used other teaching materials, often from the previous course. For some topics such as child psychology and phonetics the information available is said to be inadequate and therefore students are referred to other books either in the college library or departmental libraries.
Students were seen to rely heavily on the Handbooks, always using them for study purposes and for classroom work. There were very few students who used other materials, not even the ones in the references. They would depend also on notes given by tutors. Some students complained that tutors did not give them notes; they deplored being told to go and read on their own and make their own notes saying there was too little time available.
Library facilities were unsatisfactory and even what was there were not well used. In St. Josephs the library was said to contain 17,000 volumes, but there was no catalogue. The books on the open shelves were mostly donated from overseas, some had little relevance to Malawi, and few had ever been taken out. The fiction shelves, which had been used, were in total confusion. There was a reserve section which contained those books students might find useful, including primary school syllabuses and textbooks. Nonetheless a look at the number of students who visited the library was testimony that they did not value it very much. Only 58 students out of 380 students had visited the library half way into the term. In BTC, which was even less well resourced, those who visited the library were only interested in past examination papers to prepare for their end of residential examinations. Sometime students went to the library to consult dictionaries because they did not have any. Some students indicated they had not been taught how to use the library.
This general reluctance to use reference materials may be partly attributed to the design of the course itself. The Handbooks appear to have been designed to be self-sufficient. They contain everything, from detailed content to answers to exercises. They do not provide opportunity for further exploration by students. Project designers may have thought that other reference materials would not be readily available and that some students with poor academic backgrounds would not cope.
The Handbooks instruct readers to use locally available materials for teaching and learning aids. In general there was lack of commercially acquired consumables or perishables for class work mainly due to lack of funding. One science department had only two cracked beakers. In such cases tutors resorted to demonstrations to save on the materials needed for experiments, or used their own financial resources to enable them carry out meaningful lessons. Students were sometimes required to procure their own materials in subjects such as Home Economics and Needlework.
College equipment for teaching and learning purposes was often out of order due to lack of maintenance. It would appear that lack of funding is at the root of the problem. One question to ask is if these materials were available would it have changed the way MIITEP was being implemented? Another question is whether MIITEP handbooks and the course as whole would have been designed differently if teaching and learning materials were not a problem? Ironically there was also equipment which was lying idle because MIITEP did not require its use; for example the language lab and video cameras are not used at all, perhaps for lack of time.