|Lesotho: A Baseline Study of the Teacher Education System (CIE, 2000, 83 p.)|
|Chapter Six: The Quality and Effectiveness of Teacher Education|
There are different views concerning the quality of the NTTC entrants. On the positive side, according to the Registrars and the Admissions Offices, there is so much competition for places at the NTTC that, even though the stated entry requirements for PTC are COSC with two credits and three passes, in practice more credits are required due to a high level of competition. The college even has students who are university material because of the number of credits they have. There has, therefore, been a lot of improvement as far as the quality of students is concerned.
The other view is expressed by Burke and Sugrue (1994), who indicate that the quality of candidates entering for PTC is one of the most serious issues which both the Ministry of Education and NTTC have to face. They note that "students achievement level at point of entry set a ceiling to what can be accomplished with them in the training programme" (p.37) and they argue that these students necessitate the allocation of a large proportion of college time in order to upgrade the second level content areas. Their major concern relates to cost since they observe that topping up the second level education at a third level institution has a unit cost on average seven times higher than the provision of the same in high school.
According to the one-to-one interviews with two very senior officers at the NTTC, the methods of selecting trainee teachers at the NTTC are both appropriate and reliable. A certain caliber of students is admitted and there are rigorous interviews so that the careful screening of students may be assured.
However, others think that in spite of all the measures taken to ensure that the best candidates are admitted into the college, the methods of selection leave much to be desired. Even up to 1997 there were students who got into the College, as it were, through the back door. They were Junior Certificate holders who could hardly manage to go through the first year of training even though they had teaching experience. This anomaly is due to corruption. In other words, there must be some members of staff who know how to push such students in through the back door.
What needs to be done to remedy the situation is to check the students time after time to ensure that those who have been admitted do in fact possess the necessary entry qualifications. Already, the academic calibre of entrants holding COSC and admitted into the PTC programme is in question. Burke and Sugrue, (1994: 37) make the following observation:
The most serious drawback of entrants to PTC programmes is their lack of facility in English. While candidates with Junior Certificate only are no longer accepted, and the standard of entry has improved, it is still possible for students to gain entry without a pass in English. Such students experience considerable difficulty in comprehending lectures through English, in completing assignments and sitting examinations. Ultimately their language shortcoming will hamper their teaching out in the schools.
Other emerging issues that could be looked into in detail in other research projects include exploring the use of the NTTC capacity, the affiliation between the College and the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and the induction programme:
· Is the NTTC used to full capacity?
One wonders whether it is not possible to maximise the potential of NTTC by utilising all its buildings all the time throughout the entire year. Physical facilities such as the library and classrooms could be used for learning and teaching through evening classes for continuing education students.
· NUL and NTTC affiliation
The formal relationship between NUL and NTTC leaves much to be desired. The university, as already indicated in other chapters, approves the college programmes and its Senate is responsible for approving the College examination results, yet admitting the NTTC students to NUL is very difficult. One gets the impression that NUL "belittles" the graduates of the College although it approves of its programmes. Perhaps College autonomy will be an answer to some of the concerns raised about the affiliation.
· Formal induction scheme for primary school teachers
The need for an induction programme for the primary school teachers cannot be over-emphasised as prospective teachers in any level of teaching need to start their profession on the right footing. With the phasing out of PTC and the offering of diploma programmes one feels that the need for maintaining high standards is even greater. Future research projects might explore the feasibility of offering this programme as part of the training of a primary school teacher.
· The NTTC Diploma programmes
The College is changing its programmes by phasing out old and introducing new programmes. Recently, the College has begun offering two types of diploma programme. One such programme is aimed at upgrading those teachers who enrolled for the Primary Teaching Certificate and the other is offered for those students who do not hold a teaching certificate. There is a feeling that students who enroll in the upgrading diploma are discriminated against in favour of those who enroll for the new diploma. There is a need to engage in an intensive study that looks very closely at the curriculum for the two programmes and the way this curriculum is enacted in both groups.