Mobile Teacher Training Troupes A Source for Capacity Building by LeeHarland

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									Journal of Education for International Development 3:2                           January 2008




 Mobile Teacher Training Troupes: A Source for Capacity Building in
                       Primary Teacher Education in Malawi


                                  Hartford Mchazime, Ph.D.
                                American Institutes for Research


The education system in Malawi has been undergoing a curriculum reform while the
government introduced a policy of free primary education. The innovations created
major challenges to the smooth running of the education system: there are acute
shortages of qualified teachers to address the huge enrolments and an inadequate supply
of instructional materials. While traditional government pre-service teacher training has
been modified into a teacher education program known as the Malawi Integrated In-
service Teacher Education Program (MIITEP), the approach has been turning out
teachers unprepared for their work. The public considers that the quality of education is
dropping and among other things it is requesting the Government for a greater budget
allocation to education (Nsapato 2006). To address the situation, the Malawian
government requested the support of the United States Agency for International
Development (USAID) in providing in-service teacher education. Consequently, the
Malawi Teacher Training Activity (MTTA) was established on September 1, 2004 and
within the project a mobile teacher training troupe (MTTT) was to address the provision
of high-quality, in-service, teacher training. This article presents how the Government of
Malaw, with the assistance of USAID, addresses capacity building within the primary
education sector. It also examines the impact the capacity-building efforts on the
professionalism of teachers.

Keywords: Professional development, education reform, Malawi




                                        INTRODUCTION


In 1994 Malawi declared free primary education (FPE). As a result of the declaration
close to 1.7 million new pupils entered primary school. These pupils were to be taught by
45,000 qualified teachers in the system. At the same time, the government committed
itself to providing all necessary learning materials - textbooks, exercise books, writing
materials and everything that creates a good learning environment at school. By October
1994 primary schools and classrooms were swollen with pupils as the overall enrolment


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increased from 1.5 to 3.2 million. While the national and the international communities
applauded the Malawi government for achieving universal primary education (UPE)
virtually overnight, there were serious challenges.


Instructional materials and shortfalls of 38,000 classrooms and thousands of teachers
(22,000) were acutely insufficient to meet the influx. The government employed 22,000
untrained teachers, most of them secondary school leavers and gave them ten days of
basic teaching skills before deploying them in schools. These 22,000 untrained teachers
represented almost half of the total number of school teachers in the country. Their
numbers explain in some measure the brevity of their training. While many were later
trained further and certified, most remain under-trained. The public has been demanding
better qualified teachers.




    MALAWI INTEGRATED IN-SERVICE TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAM


In 1996 the government decided to replace the normal teacher training program with an
emergency program meant to accelerate the production of trained teachers. The Malawi
Integrated In-service Teacher Education Program (MIITEP) provided a 16 week in-
service training to the newly recruited teachers along with learning materials for further
study at home. Trainee teachers were also supervised in the classroom. At the end of two
years each cohort of teachers (close to 3,000 per cohort) went back to college to sit for
their final teachers’ certificate examinations as Primary Teacher Grade 4 (PT4) - the
national entry point for primary teachers in the country. These teachers are those who
graduate from secondary school with a Malawi School Certificate of Education after four
years of secondary school education. Since the normal period of training primary school
teachers has always been two years, the training was considered to be an equivalent of the
normal two year training that government was providing before the MIITEP program.


The biggest challenge for MIITEP was to combine training and full classroom teaching.
The teachers were recruited to occupy full classes so that when the training started they



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were only relieved during absences for residential training after which they returned to
their normal full load teaching while studying at home. Most teachers found it difficult to
cope with the distance learning materials. Even the sixteen week face-to-face training
was not without challenges. Students always complained of cramming. Consequently,
MIITEP was perceived as failing to meet the required professional standards of teaching.
Rather than improving the quality of education, it appeared, to the public, that teachers
had only sub-standard teaching skills.




               THE MALAWI TEACHER TRAINING ACTIVITY (MTTA)


The response to this concern was the Malawi Teacher Training Activity (MTTA),
designed to build the capacity of teachers in English, mathematics and science. The three
subject areas are regarded as crucial to the primary education sector in the country.
MTTA operates in four districts of Mzimba South in the Northern Region, Kasungu in
the center and Machinga and Phalombe in the Southern Region of Malawi. The districts
were chosen because there was another USAID funded project in these districts (Malawi
Education Support Activity – MESA) that MTTA was going to complement. The major
concern of the MESA project was to assist communities in supporting schools to deliver
quality education and to provide training to teachers in teaching methodologies. Soon
after MTTA started it became clear to MESA that teachers’ knowledge of content in
English, mathematics and science was below their expected standards. It was argued then
that teaching methods without sufficient background knowledge of the subject matter
would not achieve the intended improvements in education quality. When MESA project
phased out MTTA included methodology in its project document so that it now combines
subject content and pedagogy.

At the beginning of the project a baseline survey was conducted including tests for
teachers and students using a random sampling technique to establish how much both
teachers and students were able to do. Questionnaires were sent to schools for teachers to
fill in whatever content gaps they felt needed to be handled during training to improve



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 their performance in the classroom. This was followed by face–to-face interviews with
 some selected teachers in all the four districts. The data were coded and analysed using
 SPSS. Data on content gaps were prioritized and a number of topics for training
 prioritized according to how often each topic was mentioned. The prioritised lists of
 topics formed a basis for the development of training materials. Table 1 below shows the
 list of the topics that formed the basis for the development of the materials.


Table 1: Topics submitted by schools for inclusion in training materials
 English                            Mathematics                 Science
 Parts of speech                    Factors and multiples       Machines
 Nouns                              Factorisation               Load, fulcrum and effort
 Composition writing                Highest         common Balancing and balances
                                    factor
 Classroom language                 Lowest          common Common diseases
                                    factor
 Listening and speaking             Estimating lengths          Methodology: Life skills and
                                                                HIV/AIDS
 Reading and writing                Place value                 Heat energy
 Teaching composition using Fundamental                   ideas Soils
 story map                          about factors
 Phrases and Clauses                Multiplication              Pressure



                                         Training Materials

 A team of 21 writers of the training materials was created from local primary and
 secondary school teachers and teacher educators, Primary Education Advisors (PEAs),
 Senior Education Methods Advisors and experts from the Malawi Institute of Education
 (MIE). These people were known for their ability to write instructional materials. At the
 first writers’ workshop they were divided into three groups according to the three subject
 areas, namely English, mathematics and science. The writers went through the proposed



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lists of topics submitted by schools and regarded as crucial to enhance further
development of teachers’ academic and professional capacity.


The teams broke down the topics into modules and prioritized them according to their
level of difficulty. The simplest topics were included in the outline of the first module
and the remaining ones were reserved for subsequent modules.


After the planning meeting the three different groups met for five days developing
interactive training materials in English, mathematics and science. The writing process
was closely supervised by the MTTA professional staff who were also experienced
writers themselves. The materials were later refined and were submitted to the MTTA
secretariat which edited them and sent them to the Malawi Institute of Education for
printing. The planning and development of materials was done during school days and it
was done five different times following the number of training modules developed over
the period. However, the training materials were not field tested before training the
teachers because of time constraints. It was assumed that because the writing teams
included practicing teachers they would be used as sounding boards on which the other
writers would bounce their ideas.

                                        In-service Training

In-service training workshops were conducted at three different levels. The first trainings
were done at the national level. College lecturers, some selected Senior Education
Methods Advisors (SEMAs) from four education divisions under which the four impact
districts fall, MTTA and MIE staff facilitated the trainings known as core trainings
(NCT). The National Core Trainers were then sent to the four districts to conduct trainer
of trainers (TOT) workshops. All the one hundred and eight participants to the TOT
workshops were selected from each district and the teams consisted of some selected
head teachers, mentor teachers, zonal in-service education facilitators (ZINFAs),
practicing teachers and MTTA district education facilitators.




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The TOTs were then sent to clusters where all teachers from neighbouring schools were
invited to attend the trainings during holidays to avoid disrupting classes. Approximately
6,000 teachers attended the workshops. The first workshop put more emphasis on
English than on mathematics and science. For example, while English was taught for six
hours, mathematics and science were given four and five hours respectively. Each
presentation made by individual trainers was followed by group assignments to be done
the teachers in their respective groups. Teachers were particularly encouraged to back up
their arguments with examples so that when presenting to other group members in
plenary sessions the other members would understand them quickly. As a result, most
teachers made constant reference to their experiences in the classroom, which generated
lively discussions. At the end of such discussions, alternative ways of dealing with
similar topics were presented and teachers agreed what to take and try in their
classrooms. Teachers were also asked to prepare mini lessons to peer-teach in the plenary
sessions. After every peer teaching participants reviewed the lesson and made comments
on it. Facilitators at the workshops added what they thought was good practice and they
encouraged the participants to emulate the good practices they saw in each peer lesson.


This method of training was also adopted in trainings for the same teachers in cycles two,
three, four and five which took place in March, July-August, December 2005 and in
March 2006. After every training cycle, teachers were followed up at their respective
schools which provided another opportunity to engage with facilitators on issues that they
did not understand fully during the training. This kind of supervision and monitoring of
teaching provided another opportunity for teachers to engage with the facilitators on
issues that they did not understand fully during the training. Supervisors also recorded
areas that teachers still seemed to be uncertain about during their lessons and provided
immediate feedback in teacher conferences organised at the end of the lessons. The more
challenging observations made by the facilitators became part of the content for the
subsequent in-service teacher education workshops.


Cycles six and seven, known as teacher professional development conferences, were
organised differently from the previous five workshops. In these professional



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development conferences teachers were asked to organise their own workshops and plan
their own in-service workshops. Each group in a particular cluster formed a planning
committee. The committee requested teachers to submit topics that they regarded as
warranting training. Then the committee members examined and prioritized the
proposals. The most common topics, such as machines and circuits in science and
transversals in mathematics, were grouped together and regarded as priority areas. The
committee then identified facilitators among their fellow teachers to lead the trainings.
MTTA staff monitored the workshops, providing encouragement and making suggestions
for further improvement to the facilitators.


By allowing teachers to draw up and execute their own plans, the professional team was
developing expertise among the teachers so that by the end of the project they would be
able to continue this kind of in-service education on their own and PEAs would be
monitoring their progress. During the conferences, teachers demonstrated a growing
awareness of issues affecting teacher professionalism and how to tackle them as a team of
professionals. At the end of every presentation, teachers discussed issues raised in the
presentations and candid answers were presented not only by the facilitators but also by
other teachers. The atmosphere was cordial and lively in all the cluster centers.


To ensure that all teachers would get maximum support from the project MTTA
established a mobile teacher training troupe concept. This concept simply means roving
teacher trainers or educators. The approach is described below.

                          Mobile Teacher Training Troupes (MTTT)

The concept of mobile teacher training is little known in Africa particularly in Southern
Africa. Grouw and Cebulla (2006) argue that mobile teacher training should not replace
formal teacher training but should be used as an interim measure for ensuring quality
education in crisis or in unstable conditions. Mobile teacher training has been used
extensively in countries that are emerging from conflict in some parts of the world. For
example, in Burma mobile teacher training teams visit schools and support teachers in
their effort to educate children of their communities (Kaasik and Eh Thaw 2004). In the


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Karen State of Burma, teachers and students often lack permanent classrooms. They build
bamboo schoolhouses and often use bamboo for chalkboards. Their schools are often
raided by either government forces or the country’s insurgents. Students and teachers flee
to the forest for their safety.


In rural Mongolia mobile teachers are deployed to teach children of ages 3-7 because
most families in the countryside cannot get access to schools for their children. The
mobile teachers are trained in early childhood development and then they follow the
children to their areas. When the mobile teachers visit the areas they leave some work to
the children’s parents to let the children do the assignments when the mobile teachers
have gone away and before the next visit (c.f.,
www.unicef.org/evaluation/files/mongolia.doc).


In Malawi the concept of mobile teacher training is an innovation. MTTA initiated the
program as a component of the overall strategy for improving both content knowledge
and pedagogical skills of primary school teachers. When it was known to the project staff
that in spite of having initiated the training program there were many teachers who
needed further professional development, MTTA embarked on setting up mobile teacher
training troupes. The criteria for selection were that the person identified should have
worked in government and retired as an education advisor or a teacher educator. Such a
person should be a respected person in his or her own right as an educator with
commendable experience in primary education and he or she should command
professional respect among teachers.


The project then advertised the positions and conducted interviews. Thirty people
succeeded and were recruited as mobile teacher trainers. They were then given a week
long training and orientation to the project’s objectives. The main content of the training
was as follows (MTTA: 2006):
    ▪   Understanding the Malawi Teacher Training Activity (MTTA)
    ▪   Objectives of MTTA
    ▪   What Mobile Teacher Training Troupe is (MTTT)



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    ▪   Objectives of MTTT
    ▪   How MTTT fits into MTTA
    ▪   Lesson observation and how to identify teachers’ shortfalls in content knowledge
        and pedagogy
    ▪   How to provide constructive feedback to teachers after lesson observation
    ▪   Record keeping and making follow up visits to schools
    ▪   Professional ethics and interpersonal skills


In addition to these topics the troupers were also given a day of practical experience in
lesson observation at a school close to the training venue. Results of the classroom
observation records were analysed in a plenary session at the training venue. Then the
troupers and their facilitators discussed the analysed results. The troupers were then
asked to demonstrate how they would conduct feedback sessions with teachers and how
they would advise them to improve the delivery of lessons if the teachers were asked to
re-teach the same lessons. At the end of the workshop, the troupers were divided into 10
groups of 3 members each – one for English, another for mathematics and the third
member responsible for science.


                                           School Visits
The 10 groups were sent to selected schools in one district first. On arrival in the district
they were asked to visit 10 schools, each group spending five working days with teachers
at each school in the district. The schools were identified by district education officials
together with a MTTA district education facilitator. The schools that were identified were
those that the officials felt needed immediate support in particular content areas and in
pedagogical skills.


Each troupe member had a set of interview and observation instruments for use at the
school being visited. At each school, the troupers interviewed the head teacher,
community members surrounding the school, particularly the school management
committee and class teachers. Questions about the community members included how
they support teaching and learning at their school and how they work with teachers to



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ensure that children are learning in a constructive environment. Head teacher interviews
included how often the teacher supervised his/her staff, what content areas posed major
challenges to the staff and what challenges the school faced. Teacher interviews were
meant to find out the teachers’ experience; whether the textbooks were relevant, the
challenges they faced in preparing lesson plans; what support they were getting from the
head teacher, their colleagues, their education advisors, mentor teachers and the local
community. They were also asked what teaching and learning materials were locally
available at the school.


The troupe members then went into classrooms to observe teaching and learning for two
days. These observations were interspersed with individual feedback to the teachers. In
day three, the troupe members met all the teachers at the school and gave them detailed
feedback on what the troupers saw during the two days of observation. They first asked
the teachers what they thought about their lessons and what they thought was not done
well enough. These questions opened up very constructive and candid discussions. The
troupe members then built their observations on the discussions. Teachers were then
asked how they would improve delivery of the lessons discussed. Troupe members added
other approaches to the list that the teachers presented. Teachers commented on the
merits and demerits of each approach that the troupe members suggested to them. At the
end of day three, the troupe members prepared demonstration lessons which they
presented using peer teaching on the fourth day. All the teachers at the school gathered
and observed the peer lessons and wrote what they thought were points for discussion
after each presentation.


After the peer lessons, all the teachers discussed the lessons they observed together with
the troupe members. Teachers highlighted what they thought was done well and what
they had learned from the lesson presentations. They also pointed out what they thought
were challenges in each lesson. Troupe members acknowledged some of the
shortcomings in the lessons and defended or justified why certain actions were taken in
the lessons. The discussions were conducted in a professional manner and teachers felt
that they were being assisted very much.



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At the end of day four, teachers were asked to choose a topic in which they would teach
using any of the approaches they had been exposed to during the previous four days.
Many teachers volunteered and prepared lessons. These were lessons presented in a real
classroom situation. The volunteer teachers taught the lessons to children in their
classrooms while the rest of the group observed the teaching. All the other teachers and
troupe members recorded their observations in preparation for plenary discussions.


During plenary sessions, there was a step by step analysis of each lesson with the
participants sharing their observations. Teachers started with what the “class teacher” did
in the observed lesson. The discussion moved then to the good aspects of the lesson,
highlighting what they liked most in the lesson. Later they moved on to what they
thought was missing, pointing out what that might mean to learners. They also provided
some alternatives that could be used to make the lesson more meaningful to the learners.
At the end, troupe members presented content and professional gaps that they observed
both during the lesson delivery and during the week as they observed other lessons.
These were discussed and teachers confirmed that those areas were indeed a challenge to
them. The team then worked together to close up the existing gaps.


The next step was to ask the teachers to adjust on their lesson plans cobased on the
feedback. Troupe members helped them in how to make the plans. Some of the teachers
made two to three week plans detailing what they would be doing each day until all the
gaps or challenges were addressed. This process of making plans for their own
professional development marked the end of the week and the troupe members were
ready to go to another 10 schools in another district. The process followed the same
pattern in all the subsequent districts.

                                        METHODOLOGY

The in-service trainings and the mobile teacher training approach were accompanied by
systematic monitoring and an overall evaluation of the practices. The evaluations used
both qualitative and quantitative methods. In the qualitative method teachers were asked


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whether the MTTT approach was useful to them and how they thought the approach
could be improved. They were further asked what changes they were observing in pupil
learning after the trainings and what they would do to continue improving both their
academic and professional skills.


In the quantitative approach, teachers were given pre- and post-tests. The pre-tests were
meant to establish a baseline of the teachers’ competencies and the post-tests to establish
their learning gains. The first pre-test was done at the beginning of the project in October
2004. This was followed by another baseline study in February 2005. The 2005 baseline
study was done to coincide with the beginning of the academic year which usually starts
in January. Then these studies were followed by post-tests in October 2005 and 2006.
Scores of the tests were coded and analysed using the Statistical Package for Social
Sciences (SPSS). Results of the evaluations of the three subject areas - English,
mathematics and science are presented below.



                                             RESULTS

The in-service trainings and the mobile teacher training approach were accompanied by
systematic monitoring and an overall evaluation of the practices. The evaluations used
both qualitative and quantitative methods. In the qualitative portion teachers were asked
whether the MTTT approach was useful to them and how they thought the approach
could be improved. They were further asked what changes they were observing in pupil
learning after the trainings and what they would do to continue improving both their
academic and professional skills.


All the teachers who were interviewed indicated that all the trainings were very useful.
They singled out how the mobile teacher training approach had changed their perceptions
about the challenges they were experiencing before they were introduced to the concept.
They cited how most of their learners were now able to read with understanding English
texts at their level. They reported that before they were introduced to how to teach
reading with small groups, they used whole class reading and most of the learners were



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just barking to the print. When asked to point at specific words or answer basic questions
on what they had just read, the learners were either guessing about what could be the
correct words or they were just looking at the teacher hoping that the teacher would
rescue them. After the visitations by the MTTT members, teachers began to see changes
in their learners. Learners began to make sense of what they were being taught to read in
the small groups that their class teachers had set up. Teachers also said that the approach
was very much teacher friendly. The mobile troupe members approached every teacher in
a collegial manner and both teachers and troupe members treated each other as learners in
the process. There was no master-servant relationship and they treated each other as
equals during the week the troupers were with them.


At each school teachers said that they were highly impressed with the mobile teacher
trainers and they expressed the wish that this approach should have started immediately
after the project was started. They said that for the first time in their career they saw the
relevance of training at a personal level. When they were asked what they would do to
continue improving their academic and professional skills some of the teachers cited
examples of how their district education managers had already taken up the initiative of
mobile training as a tool for capacity building in their districts. In at least two districts
Primary Education Advisors (PEAs) had already formed mobile troupes who were
spending three days working with fellow teachers in schools where the district education
administration felt teachers in those schools needed a lot of support to build them up both
academically and professionally. Even at the school level, some teachers were forming
groups where they were sharing their expertise in specific subject areas including joint
planning of lesson plans.


In the quantitative questions scores were statistically calculated using (SPSS). Means,
Standard Deviation, and Standard error of mean were also calculated. Table 1 below
shows the means, Standard Deviation and error of mean for each subject.




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Table 2: Mean, standard deviation and standard error of mean
Statistic            October 2004                October 2005            October 2006
Subject              Eng      maths     sci.     Eng      maths   sci.   Eng       maths    sci
Mean                 55.3     32.97     42.0     56.6     38.38   48.6   63.23     45.31    56.85
                                        5        3                6
Standard             18.99    20.20     17.1     19.4     21.47   19.0   19.56     24.45    19.59
deviation                               3        7                4
Standard     error 0.61       0.65      0.55     0.67     0.69    0.63   0.66      0.83     0.66
of mean


 Tables 3, 4 and 5 below show the average scores for the three subjects in October 2004,
 2005 and 2006, indicating the average level of teachers’ performance since the in-service
 trainings were started in October 2004.


Table 3: Teachers’ average scores in English
 Sex                        October 2004             October 2005          October 2006
 Female                     54.84                    56.63                 63.23
 Male                       55.75                    56.63                 64.03
 Overall                    55.30                    56.63                 63.63




Table 4: Teachers’ average scores in mathematics
 Sex                        October 2004             October 2005          October 2006
 Female                     28.54                    36.61                 43.22
 Male                       37.40                    40.15                 46.26
 Overall                    32.97                    38.38                 45.31




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Table 5: Teachers’ average scores in science
 Sex                       October 2004              October 205        October 2006
 Female                    41.59                     44.08              51.79
 Male                      42.51                     53.24              61.91
 Overall                   42.05                     48.66              56.85


 6.0 Discussion of the results
 Looking at the means in table 2 it is observed that in the past three years the means for all
 the three subjects have moved up. For example, in English the mean moved from 55% to
 63.33% in 2006 and in science this upward movement was 56.85% in 2006 from 42.05%
 in 2004. Even in mathematics where very low scores were attained particularly during the
 first year, its mean moved up from 32.97% to 45.31%. This means that collectively the
 teachers in the group improved. However, in terms of dispersion of performance, the
 standard deviation for mathematics shows a wider difference among the teachers than
 both in English and science in 2006.


 In tables 3, 4, and 5, the results show that between 2004 and 2005 the overall average
 percentage gain for teachers in English was only 1.33% while in 2006 the learning gains
 rose to 7.0%. Female teachers performed better than their male counterparts (1.79
 percentage gain for females and 0.88 percentage gain for males respectively). However,
 in 2006 male teachers made more gains than female teachers. In mathematics the overall
 percentage gain in 2005 was 5.41% while in 2006 the overall gain rose to almost 7.0%.
 Female teachers made much higher percentage gain (8.07%) than their male counterparts
 whose gain was only 2.75%. In 2006 the gains for both male and female teachers almost
 levelled off at 6.61% for females and 6.11% for males, making an insignificant difference
 of only 0.50% between the two groups.


 In science the overall percentage gain in 2005 was 6.61% while in 2006 it was 8.19%.
 This was the highest average gain in all the three subject areas. Male teachers made more
 average gains than their female counterparts whose average percentage gain was 7.71%
 while males’ gains were 8.67%. In Malawi, mathematics and science are generally


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perceived as difficult subjects and many teachers in primary school would shun teaching
the two subjects if they had the opportunity to do so. Female teachers are particularly
more likely to do so. However, the gains that the two groups made in both 2005 and 2006
were very significant. Female teachers made strides in both mathematics and science.
Male teachers too made a lot of improvements. In interviews with some female teachers
many of them reported that they were now deliberately asking their head teachers to
allocate them to higher classes to teach.


As an illustrative example, a Primary Education Advisor in Mzimba South observes that
“MTTA has helped teachers to know how to teach science. Teachers have now good
ideas on the subject matter so that most of them have now gone to senior classes to teach
mathematics and science”. Another example is from a female class teacher from Ufa
Local Education Authority School in Phalombe district who wrote the project office: “I
just want to congratulate the producers of the project and that they should not go. I tell
you I used to hate teaching science like hell but now I am becoming a star in science
because of MTTA and I am proud of it together with my fellow teachers”.


It has been shown that teachers generally made better gains in 2006 than in the previous
year – 1.33% in English, 5.41% in mathematics and 6.61% in science in 2005. This was
against 7.0%, 6.93% and 8.19% in English, mathematics and in science respectively in
2006. Although it is difficult to attribute the gains to one particular factor, it can be safely
argued that the facilitators’ contribution to the in-service trainings was one of the factors.
Facilitators’ handling of the materials they were using when training the teachers showed
a great deal of improvement. Thus they were gradually gaining more and more
confidence as they continued training the teachers. The creation of more intimate support
systems in the four educational districts seems also to have contributed to this rise in
teachers’ performance.


Perhaps of particular importance is the introduction of mobile teacher training troupes as
one of the contributing factors. Mobile training is more personal in nature than other
types of training. Training is taken to the door step of the teacher and the teacher chooses



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what he/she needs to know. Instruction is then tailored to the teachers’ needs taking into
account their local environment. Teachers see the trainers as professional colleagues with
whom to share their pedagogical concerns and their professional skills. One teacher in
Mzimba South had this to say, “This training is very good. It connects us to experienced
people and we share our problems with them as equals.” It is perhaps this kind of
approach that, among a combination of other factors, has contributed to the overall
improvement of the teachers’ performance during the 2006 trainings.


Although the impact of mobile teacher training troupe has been highly commended, the
approach can be costly to maintain. In this study the troupers were taken from retired
educationists who were paid some money to cover their expenses. The project also
provided transport for the troupers to move around to ensure that they reach as many
schools as possible. They were given some money for their board and lodging. Taken
together the amount of money could be substantial so that it might be a challenge for
government to adopt it wholesale. Furthermore, where teachers are in short supply it may
be difficult to find enough qualified people to play the role of a trouper as was done in the
project. However, the adaptations that the two districts made in the study suggest that a
modified mobile approach can be done.



                                           SUMMARY

The need for capacity building among teachers in Malawi was highlighted in the paper
and the interventions that the USAID-supported MTTA has made since September 2004
were discussed and their impact on teachers’ performance was demonstrated. It was
argued that the strides that teachers made in Phalombe, Machinga, Kasungu, and Mzimba
South districts of Malawi were perhaps largely due to the systematic in-service training
workshops and the use of mobile teacher training troupes deployed in the four districts
over the period. However, although the mobile teacher training troupe approach was said
to be powerful and was highly applauded by teachers its major challenge seems to be the
cost of sustaining it in schools. It was argued then that for the approach to be sustained




Mchazime                                                                                     17
Journal of Education for International Development 3:2                      January 2008


schools could modify the approach as has been demonstrated by some zones in at least
two districts where the approach was used by the project.




Mchazime                                                                               18
Journal of Education for International Development 3:2                     January 2008


                                          REFERENCES


Grouws, Douglas A. and Cebulla, K. On-site Teacher Training and Support: Mobile
        Trainers and Mentors www.ineesite.org/page.asp?pid=1162

Kaasik, Karin and Thaw, Saw Eh (2004): Schools on Hard Knocks. The Irrawaddy.
        Volume 12. No 1.

MTTA (2006): Mobile Teacher Training Troupers’ Orientation Handbook

Nsapato, Limbani (2006) Civil Society Coalition for Quality Education Budget
        Monitoring Report - 2004-2005

Unicef: Mongolia: Reaching Out the Unreached for Early Childhood Development
        www.unicef.org/evaluation/files/mongolia.doc.




Mchazime                                                                            19

								
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