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close this bookPrimary Teacher Education Curricula as Documented: A Comparative Analysis (CIE, 1999, 38 p.)
close this folder4. Summary and Discussion
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Open this folder and view contents4.1 Some of the issues emerging from the above analysis

(introduction...)

Only a limited amount of information can be gained from documents about initial teacher preparation programmes. However, this exercise has enabled us to note some important differences and similarities.

Each ITPP has its own identity and characteristics which have developed out of its particular historic and cultural context, but all these five are also marked by wider intellectual influences from the Anglophone world. All but one are undergoing structural changes, yet common trends are hard to discern. Given the need to combine subject knowledge with professional expertise, two (Lesotho and Trinidad) seem to emphasise knowledge and to teach it separately from professional aspects. The others try in various ways to integrate content and methods, with an overall emphasis on gaining professional competence, though these are based on very different visions of the teacher: the effective instructor, the technical practitioner, or the curriculum activist.

Only UDW appears to have a coherent and well-developed rationale that informs all aspects of the course. In the other cases one can usually detect elements of contending philosophies and epistemologies, some of which have been introduced - though in no case imposed - by donors. Although the new courses are often designed to a common format, substantial differences can be found between subjects and it seems that ‘academic tribes’ exist even within colleges.

All the programmes are linked closely to the local primary school curriculum, but they have different relationships with schools. MIITEP and BAGET embrace the schools most closely as sites for learning, though for very different reasons. The other three use schools as convenient places for short periods of practice, without integrating them into the programme as a whole.

With the exception of BAGET, it is not obvious from the documents how far the actual content and pedagogy of the programmes have been adjusted to take account of changes in schools, particularly where universalisation of primary education has created very different conditions from those experienced by earlier generations. Another big question mark is over the real needs of entering students. There is very little provision for academic support and development for those who enter with low qualifications or special needs of some kind, such as limited language skills. There is also very little about the personal development of the young teachers. Attitudes are often mentioned in the overall aims, yet the design of the programmes does not make clear how these are to be changed and nurtured.

But it may be that differences in how ITPPs are designed and documented do not matter very much. What matters is how those programmes are implemented, organised, taught and assessed, and what the students experience as they pass through them and on to the schools. Such studies form the next phase of the MUSTER curriculum strand.