Using OERs to improve teacher quality: emerging findings from TESSA

Wolfenden, Freda
Umar, Abdurrahman
Aguti, Jessica N
Gafar, Amani A
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The last decade has seen tremendous progress in primary pupil enrolment across much of sub-Saharan Africa but unfortunately in many areas this has not been accompanied by an improvement in pupil achievement. Attention and priorities are now expanding to embrace close scrutiny of the processes of classroom teaching and learning. Governments and donor agencies across the region are engaged in promoting a pedagogical paradigm shift to improve pupil attainment; a learner-centred classroom approach with pupil-teacher construction of knowledge through active inquiry. But to date systematic adoption and embedding of these progressive teaching methods has been limited and pupil learning achievements continue to be low. Much recent research on African classrooms shows that the dominant mode of teaching remains a teacher-led transmission style in which pupil talk is restricted to short, often chorus, answers to closed questions. ( Pontefract and Hardiman, 2005; Akyeampong et al, 2006; Altinyelken,2010; Henevald et al, 2006; Mtika & Gates, 2009) // Recent UNESCO EFA reports draw attention to the importance of teacher quality for improving pupil achievement in schools and the key role of teacher education in shifting modes of interaction in African schools to those which more fully support pupils’ cognitive and linguistic learning (UNESCO, 2010). Teachers are potentially key agents of change. However such a focus on teachers is not unproblematic. Several issues act to inhibit or constrain progress: - many teachers in primary schools in Sub Saharan Africa have little or no formal training for the role (Mulkeen, 2009) - for many teachers the greatest influence on their teaching is their own experience of classroom learning as pupils but new teachers cannot be assured of finding examples of good pedagogic practice either in their own experiences of schooling or in the performance of their colleagues when they begin teaching. - a dearth of materials which encourage teachers to enact ‘constructivist’ ideas within their classrooms on a regular basis. Many teachers find it difficult to translate ideas from training courses into classroom practice and to use textbooks in other than a formulistic way (Heneveld et al, 2006). - limited opportunities for continuing professional development opportunities (Mulkeen, 2009). - a dissonance between the teaching and learning approach as described in the primary National Curriculum and the curriculum of the teacher training colleges, for example in Zambia. // Without intensive in-service training the move towards more interactive classrooms with more effective teaching and learning will be slow. And without shifts at scale new teachers emerging from colleges will become quickly socialised in the predominant teacher-centred pedagogic practices of the schools in which they work. (Mtika & Gates, 2009)
Formal Education, Teacher Education, Open Educational Resources (OER)