|Primary Teacher Education in Malawi: Insights into Practice and Policy (CIE, 2002, 144 p.)|
|Chapter 9: The Newly Qualified Teacher|
First, this glimpse into what happens to NQTs after they qualify produces a picture which leaves some things to be desired. Significant proportions either do not return to their training school or desire to move within the first year. This is not perhaps surprising given the condition of many of the schools. The reasons are mixed, and some may be changed by better practice, whereas others may not be.
Second, it is clear that NQTs are quickly integrated into schools as normal teachers and some even receive rapid promotion. The arrangements made at school level vary widely from helpful and supportive to weak. While most receive some induction, either at school level or in zonal workshops, it is surprising that some of the induction topics most valued by NQTs are things that MIITEP should have taught them, such as lesson planning and record keeping. More positively, the student teachers Handbooks appear to be a significant resource for the NQTs.
Third, there were signs of distance between the school and community in many of the responses, suggesting that NQTs often had problems themselves adjusting to the role that they had acquired - assuming that this was one where primary school teachers should integrate at some level into the communities they serve.
Fourth, accommodation, food, transport and salary payments all figured highly as sources of problems. Though predictable, this draws attention to the continuing need to attempt to ease these problems, since they clearly will detract from the effectiveness of any NQT whatever the quality of their training.
Fifth, it appears that only the most basic learning materials are available to most NQTs in their schools and even these are not in adequate quantities. Any more generous provision seems a rarity. The college curriculum needs to recognise this reality of the professional environment of NQTs (and trainees).
Sixth, NQTs appeared to believe that they were utilising new methods and following the MIITEP approaches to learning that departed from the traditional, such as question and answer, group work, demonstrations etc. However, this self-reported data does not seem to match with other classroom observation data, or with the dominant patterns of learning and teaching in primary schools, many of which now have large proportions of MIITEP trainees and NQTs.
Finally, induction and support during the first few years of teaching remain problematic. The MIITEP NQTs mostly return to the schools they have been working in and are therefore presumably less in need of induction than those going to new schools and communities. Nevertheless, induction is not yet universal, and ways of smoothing the transition from student teacher to qualified teacher should be further developed. At the very least print material extending the Handbooks into the first year of teaching might be helpful, especially if direct entry into MIITEP is contemplated as an option for the future. This could easily be integrated with the support the MSSSP or its successors provide for school development.
Critical to future policy and practice for teacher education are issues of supply and demand. We now turn to an analysis of these.