|Primary Teacher Education in Malawi: Insights into Practice and Policy (CIE, 2002, 144 p.)|
|Chapter 6: The Curriculum As Implemented During School-Based Training|
Under MIITEP tutors are expected to visit every student teacher at least 5 times during the 5 terms of school-based training. During these visits they are supposed to observe and then assess the student teachers' performance. This means that every tutor needs to visit each student once per term. If we take the case of one college as an example, there were 20 tutors and 300 students. This means a tutor needs to set aside up to 15 days in the term to be able to visit all the students assigned to him or her for one cohort. If the students are scattered across distant schools as is often the case, then more days are likely to be needed. Under MIITEP there was no clear indication as to when during the course the tutors would go for the supervision or how this could be fitted in with teaching and other obligations.
The proposed supervision regime is simply untenable. Cohorts are enrolled sequentially. While one cohort is in college up to five cohorts are in school. If all are to be visited then up to 75 visits a term would be required.
According to TDU guidelines (1996), and the tutors' perspective, supervision is taken to mean that tutors work formatively with their student teachers. Among other things they are supposed to observe their student teachers teach, note strong and weak points in the lesson and then suggest ways the student can improve the weak areas. They are supposed to help the students in class management, organisational skills, preparation and use of teaching and learning materials, and writing schemes of work and lesson plans. These tutors are supposed to sit down with their students and discuss any problems which they (students) may be facing in the course of their training such as the lack of teachers' guides, paper etc. and they should endeavour to provide such materials to students. In other words the tutors are supposed to provide academic/professional, material and moral support to the students, some of whom are located in very remote areas. In order to carry out such demanding tasks effectively it is recommended that tutors spend the whole day at a school.
As noted above not all students can be visited at the frequency intended. The number of visits needed is simply too large. Even with a greatly reduced schedule that might be practical, several factors militate against this happening. Most obviously logistics are a serious problem because of the widely dispersed placement of students, the inadequate number of vehicles, and the costs which can easily exceed all other teaching costs. The college supervision regime has to be re-examined and reshaped into a manageable programme. Alternatively school-based supervision should become the complete responsibility of PEAs and/or heads and college-based supervision should be abandoned. Other ways would have to be found of helping tutors maintain a connection with the contemporary situation in primary schools.8
8 It should be noted that the subsistence allowances received by college tutors during teaching practice supervision formed a significant addition to their low salaries. Without a pay increase to compensate, their commitment to working within such a reformed system might be reduced still further.