|Initial Primary Teacher Education in Lesotho (CIE, 2002, 142 p.)|
|Chapter 6: The National Teacher Training College and its Tutors|
6.2.1 College structure and management
The College has a very strong departmental structure, a situation which has both positive and negative aspects. Tutors seldom teach more than one subject, though some have in the past moved between Mathematics and Science, or between their respective subjects and professional studies, or even from Secondary to Primary Division. Staff appeared to work in groups of 2-6 in their individual departmental offices, rarely meeting with their counterparts from other departments. Within departments, some appear to have developed the culture of collaborative work, meeting regularly or frequently; still some share workloads evenly while others do not. Few tutors reported activities or responsibilities outside their teaching, such as pastoral roles, extra-curricular activities, or involvement in the College committees. The comment: 'one just does her work' seemed to sum up one aspect of the College ethos.
The lack of collaboration between subject areas on the one hand and Educational Foundations on the other was said to adversely affect the teaching of the curriculum. On the positive note however, respondents said that although there were no formal links between some subject areas and Educational Foundations, tutors might be persuaded, through informal contact, to include Educational Foundations in their subject areas. In such situations, the practice contributed to students being taught in their subject areas how to apply concepts learned in educational foundation courses.
Staff perceptions of college management appeared rather negative. There is a clear hierarchy of roles, and staff remarked on the distance between 'us' and 'them'. Those coming in from other institutions commented on the apparent disorganisation at the College: meetings called and cancelled at short notice, lack of a clear agenda, and lack of information on both the new DEP programme and the impending changes in the College status, that is, from being a department of a government ministry to becoming an autonomous institution. Others complained about the difficulty in getting materials, the lack of vehicles for teaching practice, and many other issues. It was suggested that the situation might improve once the College became more independent from the Ministry of Education and controlled its own budget.
It was reported that in staff meetings issues are presented in top-down fashion, and that no Heads of Department meetings are held to thrash out common problems. When the new DEP was mooted, a Task Force, drawn from all departments, was set up to advise the donor and the senior management team, and consultative meetings were held. However, it was not clear at the time of the study the extent to which there was a sense of 'ownership' of this important change among the staff of the College. Neither was it obvious that staff development activities were being undertaken in preparation for the implementation of the change.
At the time of the study the NTTC had a complement of 106 academic staff for its pre-service and in-service programmes, comprising 19 senior lecturers, 44 lecturers and 43 assistant lecturers.
Staff qualifications ranged from diploma to Ph.D., with the majority holding Bachelors degrees, and a substantial minority holding Masters degrees and above. However, the criteria for grading academic staff are not clear. Some tutors with Masters degrees are assistant lecturers; others with junior degrees are lecturers. There appears to be no system of staff appraisal and no clear guidelines for promotion; it is not uncommon for a staff member to stay in one rank for more than ten years and then be surpassed by someone who has just joined the college. This might be one reason for the high turnover of staff. By the end of the 1990s an average of 15 staff members left the College per year. About 5% can be accounted for by retirement, but if there is 10% turnover amongst younger staff this may be some cause for concern in building stable programmes with consistent teaching inputs.
In terms of age, 21% were below 40 years of age, 40% between 40-50, 21% were between 50-60 and 8% were over 60 years old. Half have been at the College for less than 5 years, while 29% have been there for over 10 years.
6.2.3 Gender issues
Among the NTTC staff 71% were women. Of the Senior Management, three were men (including the Director) and two women (including the assistant Director for Academic Affairs). At the time of the study, out of 11 Heads of Department (HOD) in the Primary Division, 9 were women and 2 men. During interviews, only one respondent thought it was easier for men than for women to get promotion; two (both men) were of the opinion that there was positive discrimination in favour of women, and two that there were equal opportunities, while five were unsure or vague. The vagueness could be attributed to lack of clarity over promotion criteria.
The great majority of students are women. Anecdotal evidence was quoted that men are more likely to drop out of the course, or go into other jobs after graduating. If they stay, said one 'it is because they believe they will become principals'. At the national level, male primary teachers, as is the case in many other countries, occupy a disproportionate number of management posts.
Regarding gender and the syllabus, it appeared that there is nothing in the college syllabus about gender awareness. Both men and women students take all courses, and a home economics tutor commented that male students who have been herd boys in their youth can crochet very well, as they used to make grass hats while in the mountain pastures. But no one mentioned making any other use of such experiences.