Invest in teacher training

P

eople say teaching is a noble profession, but I do not see any sense of nobility in the profession given the servitude teachers are subjected to.

Teachers need enhanced conditions of service, including adequate remuneration, to motivate them to give the best in the classrooms.

Teachers should, through in-service trainings, be oriented to the best teaching practices that emerge from cutting-edge pedagogical research.

They are a critical human resource for the implementation of the required reforms in education. With the right pedagogical orientation, they would provide that critical mass needed to improve the quality of education in the country.

However, going by the way government finances education, there is a glaring gap on financing for in-service teacher trainings. There is some structural indifference to the relevance of in-service trainings that government seems to think it is appropriate to defer budgetary allocations for such activities every fiscal year.

For example, Unicef reports that there was no budget for in-service teacher trainings in the 2018/2019 financial year.

According to the United Nations children agency, these trainings are important because they focus on creating learning environments that enable teachers to develop their effectiveness in the classroom.

But do our authorities understand the prominent role teacher trainings play in enhancing the quality of education? Why are authorities indifferent to these trainings?

A study I conducted to determine the inclusion of learners with learning difficulties in public schools revealed that most teachers did not possess the requisite orientation for the management of such learners in inclusive classrooms.

This could be attributed to the old-fashioned curricula in the teacher training colleges.

This could also be attributed to the absence of the required in-service teacher trainings in the country.

However, plenty of evidence supports the in-service trainings as a fundamental aspect for improving teaching and learning in schools.

However, to successfully deliver in-service training for practising teachers, there is need to mobilise the required resources for the purpose.

We do not lack the requisite resources for such an important activity. We only lack the necessary urgency. The indifference boils down to our financing priorities motivated by greed. 

Why do I say this?

Education is a top spending priority of our government. In the 2018/2019 National Budget, the sector received K345 billion—the highest share of government spending. This was equivalent to 23.5 percent of the budget and six percent of the GDP. The total education budget in the previous financial year exceeded the minimum government commitment for universal education. Education for All Goals require governments to dedicate 20 percent of their spending to the education sector.

Understandably, the country spends more on education than most low-income countries, but education outcomes are mixed and do not correspond to the total governmental input.

Whilst the sub-Saharan Africa spending on education is approximately five percent of the GDP, Malawi nearly allocated six percent of its GDP to education in the past fiscal year.

 With increased funding to the education sector, in both nominal and real terms, we need to seriously prioritise in-service teacher trainings.

We need to invest in our teachers!

Some of the teaching skills we got during the formative years of our diplomas and degrees in the 1990s, for example, are no longer relevant to the dictates of current pedagogy.

It is heart-rending to find dedicated teachers failing to effectively manage learners with a general difficulty to learn and interpret words, for example, because they do not have the necessary skills for that! We do not have to be archaic in our teaching practice!

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