Thursday, May 23, 2024

Quality teacher education: A long overdue imperative

Education is viewed as a vital tool for empowering Batswana in economic and social participation. The goals of the 1994 Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE) envisage school products that can contribute to economic growth employment creation through quality education and enhanced productivity. The objectives and vision of making Botswana a well educated and informed nation cannot be realized without quality teacher education.

Researching on: “Quality Teacher Education in Botswana: A Crucial Requirement for Effective Teaching and Learning”, Jane Iloanya concluded that as the country is determined to produce teachers who will be able to drive students up higher, “a teaching qualification is now a compulsory requirement for one to get a teaching job in Botswana schools”.  

According to the research, teacher educators are one of the major stakeholders in the business of educating the educators. They play a vital role in promoting reforms and improving the quality of teaching at the teacher training institutions and universities.

They have a part to play in the implementation realities of quality teacher education, to produce teachers who are knowledgeable and possess critical thinking skills, and creativity to foster effective teaching and learning in Botswana schools.

Iloanya in the research paper says “teacher training institutions and universities should increase the duration of teaching practice to a minimum of three months. This is very important in order to enable students and teachers to practice effectively what they are taught in theory”.

It is submitted that in South Africa, Botswana’s neighbour, students spend six weeks on teaching practice in each of the first three years, and six months in their fourth year of Bachelor of Education programme.

“This is worthy of emulation by other countries in the region, including Botswana. A good combination of theory and practice will go a long way in producing teachers competent enough to help Botswana realize quality teaching and learning,” advises Iloanya.

It is acknowledged that there is a strong relationship between quality teacher education and the quality of teaching a teacher exhibits in the classroom.

Quality teacher training should therefore involve a long preparation in terms of the contact hours, curriculum design, planning, comprehensive preparations skills and competencies for real classroom teaching.

Iloanya implores teacher educators to employ interactive and participatory approaches in teaching to encourage constructive learning among student teachers. Teacher educators should constantly strive to improve in their profession, by engaging in educational research beyond their local and institutional issues, so as to equip themselves with new perspectives in the teaching profession.

If those involved in educating teachers deliver quality education training to their students, their products will be good enough to offer quality education which will help Botswana become a well educated and informed nation for the long-term future.

It is argued in the paper that teacher education involves the policies and procedures that are designed to arm prospective teachers with the attitudes, behaviours, skills and knowledge they need to carry out their duties effectively in the school and wider community.

An important contribution of modern education lies in its development of teachers’ abilities to examine teaching from a perspective of learners who bring diverse experiences and frames of references to the teaching and learning environment.

“Teacher education should aim beyond just giving teacher training to prospective teachers and awarding them certificates after a period of 1 – 4 years programme.  

Effective and quality teacher education programme should be geared towards a redesign of teacher education to strengthen its knowledge base, have a well defined set of professional standards, carefully designed rigorous curriculum, comprehensive and continuous assessment of learning outcomes, rigorous entrance process for the students, connections to both theory and practice, problem-based methods, long teaching practice experiences, continuous professional development and support for faculty members, and the development of powerful teaching methodologies in the student teachers”, it is submitted in the research paper.

It is further posited that teacher education and recruitment demand a lot from the education system, in terms of curriculum design and planning, research development, infrastructure and learning resources, student support services and curriculum delivery. Curriculum delivery plays a pivotal role in quality teacher education. It is not enough to design policies; the implementation realities play a major role in the success of any policy.

So, it could be argued that the extent of teacher involvement and commitment, interest and motivation in the teaching preparation process, connections between theory and practice, the use of feedback and involving student teachers in planning activities that involve them, would contribute to quality teacher education.

“The notion that anyone can teach, or even learn to teach on the on the job cannot be substantiated with enough concrete evidence. While it is possible for one with a good knowledge of the subject to pick up a teaching job and go to teach, the issue of the pedagogical competence comes to the fore. So, quality teacher education which includes knowledge of subject matter, teaching methods, curriculum development and delivery are crucial requirements for effective teaching and learning”, it is argued in the article.

It is further submitted that experience alone will not guarantee effective teaching and learning to take place. Teachers need to continuously update themselves through research and professional development. They should be involved in workshops, seminars, conferences and journal publications, to keep abreast with the current trends in education. An effective teacher is the one who combines both pedagogical competence and love for the vocation to go the extra way in helping the learners attain desirable and engaging learning experience.

“Teaching is a noble profession, and demands a lot of tolerance and patience from those engaged in the profession to make learning a worthwhile experience. An effective teacher makes the learners to acknowledge the fact that their success is his/her priority. The learner should be made to understand that, no child is a failure, if properly taught and guided. The teacher should be able to identify learners who need special attention and know when an incident is significant, be aware of the learner’s problems and offer help or even advice”, states the research paper.

Quality teacher education is a major step towards taking Botswana on the road to becoming a well informed and educated nation that will be able to meet the technological challenges of the 21st century.

On government efforts at ensuring quality education in the country, the author acknowledges that “government sees the enhancement of the status of teachers as a national priority, in order to enable them to carry out their duties effectively. Efforts have been made to improve both pre-service and in-service training for teachers” while “the quality and training of teachers is being improved, and the expansion of training capacity is seen as an urgent priority”.

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