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close this bookMalawi: A Baseline Study of the Teacher Education System (CIE, 1999, 47 p.)
close this folderChapter 3: Overview of the Main Characteristics of the Teacher Education System
View the document3.1 Introduction: overview of the teacher education system
View the document3.2 Teacher Training Programmes

3.1 Introduction: overview of the teacher education system

Teacher education in Malawi is divided into two distinct categories. The first is the Primary Teacher Training which is controlled by the Ministry of Education. The second is the Secondary School Teacher Education which is primarily under the University of Malawi but now supplemented by upgrading courses mounted by the Ministry of Education.

From 1895 to 1973 the number of teacher training institutions increased to 13 with a capacity of 2019 places. Only two of these were run by the government while the rest were church-owned. The capacities of the church-owned institutions ranged from 60 to 180 (one had a capacity of 9). According to the Education Plan of Malawi 1973 - 1980 these small institutions were uneconomical to run. Therefore the government proposed to phase them out in favour of few but large institutions. In 1993 there were only 7 teacher training colleges with a capacity of 2968. At this time only two of the colleges were church-owned and the other 5 were government-run. Table 3.1 below shows the capacities of teacher training colleges in 1998.

Table 3.1: Capacities of teacher training colleges in 1998

College

Capacity

Total


Female

Male


Blantyre

240

300

540

Montfort

-

450

450

Kasungu

200

400

600

Karonga

100

200

300

Lilongwe

-

540

540

St. Joseph

300


300

Total

840

1890

2730

In 1998 there are six primary teacher-training colleges. This figure has been a result of constant reviews of philosophy and supply and demand analyses which necessitated the reduction of the number of teacher training colleges from 13 in 1973 to 8 in 1995 and finally to 6 in 1998. These colleges have a total capacity of 2,730 students (MIITEP, 1996). Usually enrolment is below capacity due to wastage.

In effect primary school teacher training is conducted in colleges designed, managed and run by the Ministry of Education. Only in two cases the colleges are owned by church organisations but the government contributes to their finances. As a result the Ministry dictates the staffing, recruitment of trainees and the nature of the curriculum to be followed.

The basic requirement for enrolment into primary teacher training is a Junior Certificate. Candidates who accumulate grades over the years and eventually acquire certificates are also considered. Ideally when a teacher-training programme has been designed and is ready for implementation the Ministry advertises for suitable candidates in the media.

The Ministry then shortlists the candidates for interviews. At the interview the candidates are screened to establish soundness of mind and body as well as checking the authenticity of certificates. The successful candidates are notified in writing and are advised which college they should report to. In college candidates pursue almost the same courses regardless of whether one holds a JCE or an MSCE certificate. Table 3.2 below shows the total enrolment in primary teacher colleges for 1st year and 2nd years by gender and grade from 1991/92 to 1995/96.

Table 3.2: Total enrolment in primary teacher training colleges by sex and by course of study 1991/92 - 1995/96

Type of Course:

Years of Study


1991/92

1992/93

1993/94

1994/95

1995/96


Male

Fem

Male

Fem

Male

Fem

Male

Fem

Male

Fem

T3

1,148

623

1,198

982

1,214

944

963

467

996

475

T2

1,035

539

949

415

921

545

896

659

798

685

Total

2,183

1,162

2,147

1,397

2,135

1,489

1,859

1,126

1,794

1,160

Both sexes

3,345

3,544

3,624

3,085

2,954

From Table 3.2 above it is noted that females students make up 35% - 39% of the total. From 1991/92 to 1993/94 there were fewer female students holding MSCE certificates than female students holding JCE. However from 1994/95 there is a sudden increase in females holding MSCE even reaching 46% of the total students holding MSCE. This is a positive sign showing that women with good grades are entering the teaching profession in larger numbers. It is also noteworthy that in the same years enrolment figures declined mainly because one primary teacher college was transformed into a secondary school teacher college. There was a pressing need for an increased secondary school teacher supply and the only resources were available only in the teacher colleges. In 1995/96 there was a further reduction of enrolment due to renovations which were being carried out in the remaining colleges to create more room in the subsequent years. In 1997 another primary teacher college was turned into a new university reducing even further the capacity of primary teacher training colleges.

Candidates with JCE graduate with a T3 qualification and those with MSCE graduate with a T2 teacher qualification. After successfully completing the course the newly qualified teachers are posted to different districts by the Ministry depending on the demand. The District Education Office then distributes the teachers to different schools.

Table 3.3: Primary teacher training college examination results by sex and by course of study 1992 - 1996

Year

T2 Course

T3 Course

Total All


Entered

Passed

Entered

Passed

Entered

Passed


Total

Fem

Total

Fem

Total

Fem

Total

Fem

Total

Fem

Total

Fem

1992

573

209

557

203

1358

486

1309

465

1931

695

1866

668

1993

605

202

516

119

1228

490

1146

459

1833

692

1662

578

1994

1400

431

1309

403

1445

738

1357

684

2845

1169

2666

1087

1995

1347

381

1317

375

1446

780

1110

573

2793

1161

2427

948

1996

1196

419

1134

393

1801

866

1394

671

2997

1285

2528

1064

Note: T2, T3 qualifications are obtained by candidates who enter Primary Teacher Colleges with an MSCE and JCE respectively

Table 3.3 above shows the output of the colleges. These figures do not necessarily translate into teachers going into schools. Some decide to join other sectors of the job market. It is also not very clear what criteria the DEOs use in allocating teachers to schools because the primary school system has a very uneven distribution of teachers (MIE and MOE, 1991). At the school both T2 and T3 teachers are required to teach all subjects in any one standard from Std 1 to Std 8. Despite going through similar courses and having similar workloads at the school T2 teachers receive a salary 25% higher than the T3 teachers (HRMD, 1997).

The teacher trainers have been both expatriates and local personnel but in the recent past there have been only very few expatriates in the system. For example in 1981 out of a total of 108 tutors in the five colleges 15.7% were expatriates. This has changed over the years. In 1995 out of a total of 289 tutors only 2 were expatriates representing only 0.7% of the teaching staff.

The tutors have a variety of qualifications ranging from certificates to graduate level degrees. Table 5 shows the number of tutors and their qualifications in teachers' colleges.

Table 3.4: Number of teaching staff in primary teachers training colleges by qualification 1991/92 - 1995/96

Teaching Staff

YEARS


1991/92

1992/93

1993/94

1994/95

1995/96

Graduates: Local

52

44

45

71

63

Expatriate

-

-

-

2

2

Diplomates: Local

131

145

148

233

207

Expatriate

-

-

-

-


Other

8

9

12

19

17

Total

191

198

205

325

289

Note: Other Teaching Staff Includes PT1, PT2, or PT3

From the table it can be seen that a high percentage of the tutors do not have degrees but diplomas and certificates. These are only teaching certificates. Most of the tutors were trained to teach in primary and secondary schools. This means that most of the tutors are not trained teacher trainers. They are merely handpicked from primary or secondary schools to lecture in teacher training colleges. Some tutors took the Diploma in Primary Teacher Education offered at Chancellor College in the mid-80s. A few of the tutors received some training at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne but the credentials obtained are not recognised by the Ministry of Education. The existence of tutors without proper or specialised teacher training raises doubt over their effectiveness as trainers. However, there is a little consolation because most have attended one kind of in-service training or another. According to Neumann (1993) the majority of the tutors have taught in TTCs for more than 4 years and the number of new tutors is fairly small.

The majority of the tutors are in the age range of 35-39 years but the overall age range is 25 years to over 45 years. Overall with a student population of 2954 in 1995, a tutor population of 289 gives a 1:10 tutor student ratio. Although this looks a healthy ratio morale among the tutors has always been described as low because of lack of promotional and educational incentives (MIE and MOEC, 1991).

3.2 Teacher Training Programmes

The major goal of primary teacher education in Malawi has been to train primary school teachers so that they acquire the following competencies:

1. know and support the aims and objectives of primary education

2. demonstrate a deep sense of professional commitment

3. uphold the moral, spiritual and social values of society by being exemplary in behaviour

4. acquire sufficient academic knowledge and professional skills to teach the primary curriculum effectively

5. understand and be sensitive to the development needs of children

6. to be able and motivated to continue his/her own professional education

7. help children master the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic

8. establish good relationships with the school and local communities

9. foster and preserve Malawi's cultural heritage

10. participate fully in the organisation and management of the school (UNDP UNESCO-MOE, 1980).

Increasingly it was recognised that what happens in the classroom should determine the experiences to be given in teacher education. This means that these skills and competencies became the focus for teacher education. Therefore a skilled and competent teacher would be expected to exhibit the following attributes:

1. introduce a topic competently
2. use sequential steps in the development of a lesson
3. conclude a lesson effectively
4. keep children interested in instruction
5. adapt the instruction to cater for individual differences
6. give clear instructions
7. explain clearly
8. use questioning to stimulate thinking
9. communicate with children using a variety of methods

The curriculum of teacher education was thus woven around these competencies. Up to now there is no new document indicating any additional qualities of effective teachers. There have been a number of courses with different durations and emphases but these have all been conducted in the same colleges with the same teacher trainers.

Before analysing the curriculum we briefly outline the different programmes that have been mounted over the past decade. Teacher training in Malawi government colleges was originally designed as pre-service training lasting two years. This programme is called the normal programme. Candidates eligible for this training were holders of JCE and MSCE certificates without any previous experience. The programme required candidates to spend one and half years in college and 3 months in schools doing supervised teaching practice. It is claimed that the programme dedicated 70% of the time to teaching methods and 30% to subject content. Verification of this claim is difficult because the syllabuses do not give the times allocated to methods and content per subject. At the end candidates sat for Teacher Training Examinations. Successful candidates were certified as primary school teachers with grade T2 if they were holders of MSCE and T3 if they were holders of JCE certificates. From 1981 to 1987 the output in all the colleges was only about 700 to 800 trained teachers per year.

In 1987 another training programme called the Special One-Year Teacher Programme was introduced. The main aim was to train all untrained teachers in the system. Therefore enrolment was restricted to candidates who were already teaching as untrained teachers. In the first year the training was conducted in two colleges. In subsequent years the special programme was confined to the newly constructed Domasi Teachers College only. In the first year 626 untrained teachers were certified and about 400 were trained in the second year (Nyirenda, 1988). It should be noted that the special programme was run concurrently with the normal two-year programme in different colleges. Only one college had both programmes running at the same time.

Nyirenda (1988) and later Neumann (1994) noted that the special one-year programme was a replica of the two-year normal programme with two years of work squeezed into one year. It is also claimed that 70% of the one year was dedicated to methods and 30% to subject content. The problems and confusion that arose in implementing the programme have cast doubt on the efficacy of the training. Despite this, the special one-year teacher programme has been seen as a useful means of certifying untrained teachers even in the 1990s albeit with a different designation.

A new teacher training programme called the Malawi Special Distance Teacher Education Programme (MASTEP) was launched in 1990. Its objective was to train 4000 primary school teachers in three years. This programme was supplementary to the 'normal' two-year programme. The rationale for introducing this programme was that the school enrolment growth rates had increased from an average of 3% to 12.8% between 1985 and 1988 (MOEC, 1991). Growth projections indicated that the 40% primary school age cohort which was not enrolled would be in school because:-

1. The government planned to abolish school fees in phases.
2. New policies to help reduce dropout rates were being formulated.
3. The government would maintain its policy of open access of primary education.

This would result in enrolments of over 1.4 million pupils in primary schools and there would be a shortfall of 7,000 trained teachers in 1993. For a pupil teacher ratio of 60:1 there would be a short fall of 4,000 trained teachers. It was therefore believed that the best cost - effective option for producing such a teaching force was by instituting a distance mode programme in addition to the 'normal' programme.

Candidates for the programme were selected using entry requirements similar to the two-year 'normal' programme. After oral interviews conducted by the Appointments and Disciplinary Committee of the Ministry of Education candidates were registered as external students of eight teachers colleges. Students were not allowed to change from the MASTEP to the 'normal' programme. They were sent to schools to start teaching while at the same time studying self-study materials. The course lasted three years during which time students had supervised teaching three times per year, residential courses for two months a year, seminars and workshops twice a year and project write-ups and course work through the distance mode. Assessment was both continuous and by externally administered final examinations. Table 3.5 below shows the numbers of candidates and the pass rates for females and males at T2 and T3 grades in the MASTEP course.

Table 3.5: Number of passes and fails in the MASTEP course


SUCCESSFUL

FAILURES

SEX

GRADE

TOTAL

NUMBER

PERCENTAGE

NUMBER

PERCENTAGE

FEMALE

T2

623

597

96%

26

4%


T3

676

585

87%

91

13%


T2 + T3

1299

1182

91%

117

9%

MALE

T2

1631

1535

94%

96

6%


T3

988

882

89%

106

11%


T2 + T3

2619

2417

92%

202

8%


T2

2254

2132

95%

122

5%

MALE& FEMALE

T3

1664

1467

88%

197

12%


T2 + T3

3918

3599

92%

319

8%

Out of 3,918 candidates who sat for the final examinations 319 failed representing a 92% pass rate. However, after sitting for supplementary examinations 219 out of the 319 candidates passed. This gave an overall pass rate of 99.31%. Most of the candidates not suitable for the course seem to have been weeded out during the three years.

Subsequent evaluations indicate that there were far too many written projects and assignments for students to carry out considering they had to teach as well. It was also noted that the many modes of course work required more co-ordination than was the case. From a financial standpoint it was observed that 75% of the costs for running the programme was used for student allowances and salaries and only 25% was spent on operational costs (CERT, 1995; MASTEP, 1994). However, if the programme was to be replicated the costs would have been reduced because there would be less capital costs involved. In this instance salaries need to be excluded from the costs because students spent two terms a year teaching in schools. Several factors could have contributed to the course being discontinued.

1. Some head teachers were unwilling to supervise students because there was no official recognition for their efforts.

2. The duration of the course was rather too long resulting in natural wastage due to departure for greener pastures, exclusion from the programme due to indiscipline, abscondment and failing part 1 examinations. This resulted in a 10% attrition.

3. Screening of entrants was poor resulting in recruitment of unsuitable candidates (MASTEP, 1994).

It is not immediately clear why these issues could not have been resolved and the course continued as were similar programmes in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The programme period ended in 1993 and it was not continued.

Even with MASTEP and the two-year 'normal' programmes running concurrently the ever-increasing primary school enrolment overwhelmed the teacher supply. As a result a Modified Normal Teacher Programme was designed. In this programme recruits would first have to teach for one year before being selected for one year of college work. This in many respects was a resurfacing of the one year special teacher programme. In effect the 'normal' pre-service programme was abandoned and replaced by the modified programme. This programme was in operation from 1993 to 1996.

Similar to the one-year special programme, the curriculum for the modified programme was a two-year course compressed into a one-year course. There was reduced material but the weighting between methods and subject matter remained the same. At this time it turned out that the curriculum was not in tune with the primary school curriculum. There was confusion because the new and old primary school curricula were being followed at the same time. It was also noted that the teacher-training curriculum was overloaded. As a result tutors were only able to assess teaching practice. Internal assessment was not easy to conduct because tutors did not have enough time. Experiments were done as demonstrations and not learning experiences. Neumann (1994) reports that students found science too difficult to cope with. They had to attend lectures from 7:00 am to 4:00pm and could only study on their own in the evening for at most two hours. In addition he noted that candidates in the modified programme tended be within the age range of 18 to 30 years while students in the normal programme tended to be younger. This is because the normal programme recruited school leavers while other programmes attracted school leavers as well as people employed in other sectors who tended to be older.

However the programme was kept running because it was believed that the one-year students were more mature and with real classroom experience would not find training in methods and practical work difficult. Furthermore these one-year trainees had made up their minds to become teachers and therefore would not drop out easily (Neumann, 1994). It is not certain whether indeed the one-year programme graduates did exhibit the qualities which were speculated on earlier.

It was amidst these analyses that a new political dispensation in 1994 changed the whole teacher education process into high gear. The newly democratically elected government declared primary education free. Primary school enrolment projections showed that enrolment was to increase by 70% from 1.9 million in the 1993/94 school year to 3.2 million in the 1994/95 school year. In its policy framework MOE (1995) settled for a teacher-pupil ratio of 1:60 as the optimum in the present circumstances. To achieve this the Ministry recruited about 22,000 para-professional teachers of whom 18,000 were untrained. This figure represented about 42% of the teaching force. Such a massive recruitment campaign was unprecedented in educational circles. Concerns were expressed about how these teachers were going to cope in schools which were ill - equipped to absorb the influx of both new pupils and new teachers. In addition questions about what kind of learning was going to take place were asked. There is evidence to show that the quality of education in Malawi is low (BDDCA, 1995; MOE, 1995).

With the current situation a lot needed to be done to stop any further lowering of standards. One of the pressing problems was how to train these newly recruited untrained teachers in the shortest possible period of time. The arrangements that were put in place were ad hoc but eventually the Malawi In - service Integrated Teacher Education Programme (MIITEP) was designed with the express aim of training the 18,000 untrained teachers from 1997 to 2000. The ultimate aim is to improve the quality of teaching and learning in primary schools in Malawi by reducing the number of untrained teachers in the system. All other forms of primary teacher training were then suspended.

The candidates under MIITEP are required to have at least the following:

1. JCE or MSCE certificate
2. Pass an oral interview
3. Undergo an orientation course
4. Teach in primary schools for at least a year

A number of discrepancies in the selection procedure have been noted and need further analysis.

The MIITEP course is designed to last two years per cohort. It comprises:

1. 1 term residential training in teacher training colleges estimated to last 390 hrs
2. 4 terms of self-study through the distance mode for 220hrs
3. 5 terms supervised teaching for 110 hrs
4. 12 one-day seminars for 60 hrs
5. One assignment per subject for 36 hrs
6. 4 large assignments/projects estimated to take 354 hrs

This gives an approximate total of 1,170 hours. At the end of the course grades will be compiled to represent continuous assessment and end of course examinations (TDU, 1996)