|Primary Teacher Education in Malawi: Insights into Practice and Policy (CIE, 2002, 144 p.)|
|Chapter 12: Concluding Remarks|
The bulk of the data for this research was collected and analysed during 1998 and 1999. Since then a number of developments have taken place which warrant comment.
First, the projections of teacher training demand remain valid. No subsequent enrolment or teacher employment statistics are available that change the conclusions reached, except in the direction of increased demand. The annual output capacity of MIITEP (7,500) is on the lower margin of what would be needed to meet PIF targets. No new MIITEP trainees have been enrolled for over two years, as a result of the external support being exhausted prematurely. There will be no new output of trained teachers until cohort 7 completes in mid 2003. The backlog of untrained teachers has remained as it was when the estimates were made and to this has to be added those needed as a result of attrition over the last two years, which is substantial. It is planned to recruit up to 10,000 additional untrained teachers to meet these new needs. It is not clear how these will be trained.
Second the majority of those in cohorts 7, 8 and 9 are likely to be JCE holders. In the light of evidence from previous cohorts it is being suggested that JCE holders are placed on a modified programme which recognises their weak academic background. MSCE holders are likely to be concentrated in one of the six colleges.
Third, college staff have been under-occupied since cohort 6 completed and will remain so until several cohorts are enrolled sequentially. An opportunity has been missed to use this gap in the flow of MIITEP students to upgrade college lecturers' knowledge and skills, to review the college curriculum and to revise the Handbooks.
Fourth, the original regime for supervising students by college tutors was unrealistic. If it is to be replaced by much greater dependence on zonal and school-based support by PEAs and senior staff this has to be adequately financed and systematically arranged. Previous arrangements did not succeed in supporting these activities consistently.
Fifth, a revised PIF has been produced (PIF 2000) This includes new sections which relate to teacher education and indicate policy shifts of relevance to this study. The most important of these include:
- Teacher Education and Development will be regarded as a priority area and funding will be increased from 3% to 4% of the recurrent education budget.
- The percentage of unqualified primary teachers will be reduced from 50% in 1997 to 30% in 2002 and 10% by 2012
- A Teacher Education Directorate will be introduced in the Ministry to be headed by a Director level appointment
- A national strategic plan for teacher development will be produced in 2000.
- National standards will be developed for all training institutions
- MIITEP style of teacher education will continue as long as the need is justified
- Cost-sharing measures will be considered for teacher education
- The government will promote the participation of the private sector in teacher education.
- TTCs will be rehabilitated and maintained and staff development programmes introduced to upgrade competencies
- The establishment of more TTCs will be considered, especially in those divisions currently without a TTC.
- The mode of teaching practice will be revised to increase its effectiveness
- Measures will be taken to promote gender balance in teacher training and appointment
- Training will be provided for teachers working with pupils with learning difficulties and other special needs.
The Task Force on primary teacher education has now met and produced some preliminary recommendations. In mid 2001 these advocated:
· Recruitment of MSCE holders and those likely to upgrade to MSCE level. MSCE holders may become eligible for direct entry from school without a prior period of untrained teaching
· Separate college-based training of MSCE and JCE holders. JCE holders would have two 16 week blocks in college, compared with one 16 week and one 8 week block for MSCE holders.
· Supervision of all school-based training by PEAs rather than college tutors, with assistance from senior school staff. Local placement of trainees during college-based teaching practice.
· Focus of the second block in college on work in Handbooks 4 and 5 not covered in zonal seminars.
· A revised assessment regime under which colleges are solely responsible for college-based assessment and MANEB for the final examination. In addition the many school-based assignments and projects will be replaced by one reflective research project.
· Funding direct from the treasury in a regular and timely way; cost sharing for transport, boarding costs, and examination fees.
The commitments in the PIF are an indication of the importance that is now attached to teacher education. They are generally consistent with the analysis in this report and its conclusions. So also are the preliminary recommendations of the Task Force. However, many of the items in the PIF have yet to have the mechanisms for implementation adequately detailed and the Task Force recommendations need to be converted into reality. This is the immediate challenge.