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close this bookPrimary Teacher Education in Malawi: Insights into Practice and Policy (CIE, 2002, 144 p.)
close this folderChapter 6: The Curriculum As Implemented During School-Based Training
View the document(introduction...)
View the document6.1 School support
View the document6.2 Teaching and learning materials
View the document6.3 Class partners
View the document6.4 Class allocation and school-based workshops
View the document6.5 School management
View the document6.6 Supervision by head teachers
View the document6.7 External supervision by PEAs
View the document6.8 External supervision by college tutors
View the document6.9 Zonal workshops
View the document6.10 Assignments and projects
View the document6.11 Concluding observations

6.6 Supervision by head teachers

Under MIITEP head teachers are expected to organise enabling conditions for student teachers, and supervise each student four times a week with the help of qualified teachers. Our visits to the schools showed that the head teachers are aware that they needed to help untrained teachers but what they actually managed to do did not seem to satisfy the needs of the students.

All except one had been oriented into the requirements of MIITEP by both TDU and PEAs. Half of the head teachers had set up a supervision timetable. Almost all also solicited the help of deputy heads and other senior teachers in the task. However, when we visited the schools in the middle of the term most heads had not yet started supervising the students as per the timetable. They claimed they had supervised cohort 1 and 2 in the previous term but had not yet done so for the other cohorts. One head teacher said

We have not supervised any cohort this term but now that cohort 3 is going for revision and final examinations we will get to them.

This is an indication that this task is seen as a fulfilment of a requirement without regard to what supervision is supposed to achieve. The head teachers supervise formally at the end of the school-based period, meaning that the student is not given time to use what the head teachers have discussed.

Most heads only managed to visit each student once or twice in the term, yet according to TDU, head teachers, deputy head teachers and other teachers were expected to visit each student four periods a week. Clearly this was not happening according to plan. Perhaps the demand was unrealistic. If we take the example of one of the schools with five qualified teachers and ten students it means that forty periods per week were to be devoted to supervising students and at the same time these teachers had other classes to attend to.

Such activity needed careful planning as well as commitment on the part of qualified teachers in order for it to work well. In one school visited as part of a separate MUSTER study, the head teacher had found that using the official observation forms was cumbersome, but had given each trainee their own supervision book, where comments were noted fairly regularly (Croft, personal communication). In other places, it seems, head teachers drew up plans but many did not fulfil them. At that stage of the project there was no penalty for not carrying out MIITEP work properly.