Clayton R. Wright, formerly Director of Instructional Media and Development at Grant MacEwan University, Alberta, is currently working in Sierra Leone.
He kindly agreed to share these observations on teacher education in Africa (and the great photo):
- A junior high teacher makes US$100 per month in Sierra Leone.
- In several sub-Saharan countries, a teacher dies every two hours because of HIV/AIDS.
- In Lesotho, the number of teachers who die from HIV/AIDS is twice the number that graduate from teachers’ colleges each year.
- In some areas, many teachers haven’t been paid for months, thus they have a second or third job.
- Africa needs 3.8 million teachers by 2015 to achieve the Millennium Goal of free public education for all.
Building teacher training facilities to meet the demand for teachers in Africa by 2015 does not seem feasible from my viewpoint. Distance education is definitely one option available to ministries of education.
One of the significant benefits to distance education in a developing country context is that teachers can remain at their posts and interact with learners, family, and the community. They can apply what they are learning immediately to their situation and save the government money as teachers taking distance courses don’t need to be replaced as would be the situation if they attended regular face-to-face teacher training colleges.
Thanks, Clayton. If I can add my own comments:
The new U.S. National Educational Technology Plan also recommends online training for teachers, so that they are aware of how to teach online. Accreditation agencies however need to accept that teachers can qualify at a distance, and this is slow in coming. Face-to-face teaching practice in particular is seen as crucial requirement for most accreditation agencies.
If any of you have direct experience of training teachers by distance education, in Africa or anywhere else, what is your experience? Does it work? Is it a solution? Or are there major drawbacks?