|Initial Primary Teacher Education in Lesotho (CIE, 2002, 142 p.)|
|Chapter 6: The National Teacher Training College and its Tutors|
None of the tutors had been specifically trained as teacher educators, although two had done the Diploma in Primary Supervision specifically designed to train intern supervisors. NTTC has no formal induction programme for new tutors. On arrival they are usually given course outlines and then left to do their own reading and research. Informal induction is sporadic and varies according to department, with some offering more help than others. In English, tutors with only secondary training may start teaching content and move later to methodology. Otherwise, people just learn on the job, drawing on memories of their own training and using what books they can find. In the case of Educational Foundations, some tutors appear to have relied largely on what they had been taught at NUL. This would imply that what is being offered to NTTC students may be 15-20 years out of date.
It was clear that when they first came to the College many tutors did not know what to do, and did not always get the help they needed. One reported a conversation with a colleague thus:
I asked him: What kind of things do we do here at NTTC? He said: 'just teach as you have always taught, there is nothing new here'. But whenever I got to class, I would realize that teaching at tertiary level and training a teacher needed some kinds of skills, which I thought I lacked and, honestly, I don't know how I survived. But in the department, there was a lady who was very helpful. I learnt a lot from discussions with her. Sometimes she would be talking about things she had just been doing in class and that is how I picked a few things here and there and tried to implement them in class.
A particular difficulty was for those trained for secondary teaching to reorient themselves to a primary approach. A recently arrived tutor reported that she had to adjust the way she actually taught in the past to an extent of having to put herself in the position of a primary school teacher, particularly at the time she was preparing her course outline. She had to think of some of the approaches that she thought might be appropriate for teaching in the primary school.
A more experienced tutor explained how she thought about it:
I was put into the primary programme, so I had to re-learn, to teach myself how to teach students who were going to be Primary Teachers. I had to imagine ... how I would behave if I were a Primary School teacher. So I tried to teach these trainees as if they were my Primary School pupils .... when I am teaching pedagogy for example, I say, 'Now you are my class in a Primary School, so how would you approach this lesson?'; So we do it naturally. It works.
These scenarios point to the fact that tutors are not inducted into an up-to-date discourse about the values and principles of primary teacher education, nor are they helped to acquire a holistic picture of the programme. Consequently, they work out their methods in their own way, usually looking backwards to their own schooling and training rather than forwards to a vision of change - although there are some individual exceptions.
There seems to have been no consistent staff development policy at the College. Only half reported any in-service training, and this was mainly in the form of short courses of less than three weeks duration. A few had been sent to do graduate studies overseas, sometimes under donor-funded projects at the College. Others had, on their own initiative, followed part-time post-graduate courses while remaining on the job. An exception was in the field of Early Primary Specialization Programme, where six staff members were sent on short courses and study tours.
The impact of the staff training at NTTC is hard to evaluate. The overseas training in particular, though stimulating, was not always relevant. An older tutor told how she had been sent to the USA to be trained for a specific role, but how on her return she found the project had ended and she went into a different kind of job. Another who studied in UK said, only half jokingly, that although the course had been an 'eye-opener', he had to 'reverse what he had learnt' because of the lack of resources in Lesotho schools. By contrast, study tours to neighbouring countries were rated as very interesting and relevant.