|Technical notes: Special Considerations for Programming in Unstable Situations (UNICEF, 2000, 490 p.)|
The existing resources will very much determine the extent to which teacher training is necessary and the types of support that will be needed to plan for. These guidelines assume a very basic level of human and infrastructure resources. They can be adapted, or the initial steps completely ignored, in situations where the resource base is fairly strong.
· Determine if those who are willing to serve as teachers have other time-consuming responsibilities as well. If so, consider how to build flexible education schedules to enable them to meet these as well as teaching responsibilities.
· If the teachers are not well known to you, or if you are faced with using a large number of paraprofessionals, begin with a simple literacy test - this way you can place the right people in the right kinds of jobs.
· Determine if the curriculum, syllabus and teachers guides are available and appropriate for use.
If they are available, what adaptations will need to be made to meet the current circumstances? For example, should they be simplified because it is mostly paraprofessionals who are available or should there be information added on such topics as mine awareness?
If they are not available, identify teachers and individuals (from teacher training colleges, universities, Ministry of Education, for example) who could do the necessary professional work to develop a temporary curriculum, syllabus and teachers guides. As input to this process, you might include examples from another country or situation.
If they are available but not in the necessary language, identify and engage translators who have demonstrated their skills in accurate translation.
If there are plenty of well-trained teachers available:
· Work with them to develop creative ways of providing learning opportunities in the new conditions. This may involve engaging some of them in developing materials, others in identifying sources of locally available educational supports, and still others in working with parents to ensure that children are allowed to participate, for example.
· Encourage them to begin searching for ways to involve parents, community members and interested paraprofessionals in the learning activities of the children.
· Attempt to discover the various strengths of teachers in a particular community. Some teachers are very good at math, others at organizing, others at working with troubled children, for example. The extent to which you can use the skills of individuals where they are most needed will make your overall job much easier.
Where there are not many trained teachers available:
· Work with trained teachers to encourage them to view paraprofessionals as colleagues who have needed skills and who can be helpful.
· Use local and international specialists, including local teachers to develop a teacher training programme and materials package for use with paraprofessionals.
· It may be useful to divide the paraprofessionals into different groups according to levels of expertise. For example, secondary school graduates may be better able to work with the content of curriculum designed for older children than those who only have a few years of primary education. Those who are not literate may still have a lot to offer in terms of facilities maintenance and management, enrolment records (through simple community mapping techniques such as those developed in Uganda), or as teachers aides, especially if there are likely to be large classes or classes with children of differing age and ability.
· Try to determine if there are some trained teachers who can be immediately used to work with para-professionals, even training them on a daily basis in preparation for the next days classes.
· Identify simple mechanisms for a few individuals to serve as pedagogical supports to paraprofessionals. These people would observe classes, provide guidance to paraprofessionals, and assist with quality assurance.
For all teachers and paraprofessionals:
· Provide short-term introduction to the goals and objectives of the education programme.
· Design an in-service training programme to support teachers in their work. It will probably be most expedient to develop a simple but regular set of meetings so that teachers can support each other in what will be difficult teaching conditions. Within the training, address such issues as conflict resolution, alternative classroom organization strategies (such as children working in groups, sitting in a circle rather than in rows, peer support activities, etc.), and problem-solving approaches.
· If children and teachers have been subjected to conflict or other trauma, provide short-term training related to this. It is important to acknowledge that teachers will have to recognize and address their own trauma and stresses before they are able to be supportive of children. The Child Protection Section should be helpful in this regard.
· If the emergency appears to be protracted, work with the teachers, particularly the paraprofessionals, and the education authorities to design a longer-term training programme that can have certification attached to it.
· Include training on classroom management and on gender issues in the learning environment.
· Soon after classes are up and running, begin to involve all participants in assessing how things are going and how they might be adapted to improve the situation for the children, teachers and communities. This assessment process is very important for both the quality of education and for building community cohesion around the education process.
· Develop simple mechanisms for collecting and updating data on children, in and out of school, teachers, and other resources that can contribute to the re-establishment and further development of primary education.
Work with all those providing primary education to:
· Determine how to build team approaches to primary education. This might involve short workshops on things that have worked or clustering para-professionalled classes around those led by master teachers.
· Identify incentives and motivation for improved performance. Often motivation has more to do with the ability to make decisions in and around the classroom than with an increase in salary.
· Develop trust among all those engaged in primary education. This includes recognition of the difficult circumstances under which they are working and increasingly trusting the judgement of head teachers and teachers.
· Establish early agreements with all other partners working with teachers and paraprofessionals on qualifications, incentives, gender parity, selection criteria, etc.