The Teaching of Teachers in Maths & English
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Advocacy for the restoration of quality and standard education in Gambian schools should be gauged not only by the caliber of learners available in the school system; not by the available teaching and learning materials; not by the number of teachers in each school (trained or untrained) and now how organised the school is. Rather, it is gauged by the competence and professionalism of the available human resources in the system.
The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) in collaboration with other partners in their extensive researches discovered that one of the major factors responsible for the fall in quality education in schools is that the level of professionalism and competence of a high number of teachers being stuffed in the system are below standard and expectation.
Such hidden factor player had long been simmering in the system and had poisoned the entire yields ranging from basic through secondary and up to tertiary education. This is catastrophic in the education system which should have been arrested long since.
Researches had revealed that more than eighty percent of lower Basic school teachers do not have passes or credit in English language and Mathematics at GCE O’level or WASSCE and even those teaching in Upper Basic Schools but do not have English and mathematics in their final exams. MOBSE then foresee that if these teachers’ capacities are not developed on these two important subjects, they can never restore and achieve quality education in this country.
As a result of this, the ministry deems it necessary to test the skills and knowledge of all the Lower Basic School teachers in English language and mathematic last year.
Base on the result, Lower Basic School teachers will be trained for certain periods from one to three years and then enter for private WASSCE in mathematics and English or only one base on the person’s previous results.
The training is in three categories. The first category is for those who had credit pass in math and English will have only one year training and then enter for private WASSCE. The second category is for those who had pass will have two years of training before entering for WASSCE and the third category is those who had fail will have three years of training before eligible to enter for private WASSCE.
In lieu to this, MoBSE this summer organised the first ever capacity building for Lower Basic School teachers in English language and mathematics as well as those teaching in Upper Basic Schools with Primary Teachers’ Certificate (PTC).
According to sources reaching Education In-depth, the training will last for thirty days and will continue in Christmas and Easter holidays respectively.
However, in order to achieve this objective, the MoBSE has strategised the policy in this manner: MoBSE takes care of the planning and financing of the entire training, University of The Gambia will be responsible for the training of those affected teachers while West African Examination Council will examine the trainees at the end of their training periods.
The selection of the participants is based on the national test conducted last year as well as the grouping of the participants in various categories. The manner in which tutors were selected was something some had raised the credibility of.
In responding to this, Dr. Demba sowe, the dean of the faculty of education, UTG has outlined the methods used in selecting the tutors for this important training.
According to Dr Sowe, UTG was hired to conduct the training. “We did not do the selection alone, we contacted the Association of Mathematics Teachers of Gambia, Association of English Teachers the Gambia and also wrote to the six regional directorates to identify eligible persons for the training.
Dr Sowe said explained that after receiving all the names, they asked each and every one of them to send in their original certificates for screening and personal interview. This implies that all those selected tutors had met the minimum criteria to be eligible to teach in this very important training.
Over one thousand two hundred participants are expected to take part in this thirty day long training. Information reaching us from various centers indicated that registration is still going on in some centers.
According to Dr Sowe, there are seven training centers across the country. Region three has two centers Essau and Farafenni, but the rest of the regions have one center.
Information reaching this paper confirmed that training is progressing well without serious problems. There are sufficient tutors in all centers. Coordinators in various regions have informed this paper that everything is going according to planned.
Many people had opined that such program needs not limit to the capacity building of Lower Basic School Teachers. It had been seen from other countries that after acquiring their degrees, diploma or certificates in teaching still does not attest one’s ability as a qualified teacher.
In every two years or five year or even ten years, those who acquired their professional teaching certificates, MoBSE should also follow similar strategy to update teachers in pedagogies.
The most disappointing part of the training is the financial aspect. Many have expressed their disappointments when their allowance was cut by 61.2%. According to sources, during their orientation they were information that they will receive D644 per day but to their greatest surprised their allowance was reduced to D250. What led to these changes is not known as it is a World Bank sponsored programme.
Author: With Janneh S. Darboe