How Can We Improve Teacher Training in the World’s Poorest Countries?
Access to education is a basic human right and a subject of importance in every part of the world. The desire and dedication to go to school are present and thriving in third world countries, despite the cultural or socioeconomic limitations students face. When these students are able to go to school, however, they are often met with an empty classroom or an ill-equipped teacher. Teachers in poorer countries are often neglected by their governments and do not receive things as simple as proper training. Governments should consider the following in order to assist teachers in their profession.
Make high quality teacher instructors a high priority. At the start, verify the credentials and qualifications of teacher instructors. There should be regulations in place that will dictate if an instructor is competent. Additionally, be aware of the curriculum and methods teachers are learning. Teachers will be bringing these methods and attitudes into the classroom. Just like student achievement is dependent upon their teachers, so is teacher development dependent on their own instructors.
When training teachers, this means establishing realistic standards for teaching and professional development. A clear definition of what “quality teaching” means must be determined and built upon. Policy and decision makers must be up to date on current events, on the realities that teachers are dealing with on a daily basis. Hold those who provide support through professional development (i.e. “assessment, communication, classroom management, learning, and development) accountable for the training they are administering. Teacher training must be evaluated strictly and consistently in order to observe how teachers are learning, the resources they are given, and how they are instructed to use them.
Teacher training must also take into account the realities of student life. Students in developing countries would be sacrificing precious time earning money for their family by going to school. Teacher training can be improved by evaluating the relevance of the curriculum they will be teaching. In countries of extreme poverty, students are still following a Westernized curriculum, studying subjects such as Western mythology. In an educational setting where most students don’t advance beyond elementary school, using a Western curriculum is not productive.
Instead, teacher training should include creating a curriculum that will offer life-skill building for students’ everyday lives. For example, the Math curriculum should include budgeting. Teaching students the value of saving money and investing it in other ventures are skills directly applicable to their everyday lives.
Additionally, teacher training must include practices that are backed by evidence and proven to be effective, such as student-centered learning. Considering the state of their schools and the kind of lives their students lead, teachers in developing countries need to be equipped with the best tools.
Bring teachers together and promote community building. This will allow them to trade notes, share tips, discuss teacher training, and maintain continuity in the classroom. Encourage teachers to take on leadership roles as well in order to give them a different perspective on their profession and to give other teachers a model to aspire to.
Teachers must be valued as professionals and for the work that they do. They should be supported in all aspects such as ensuring they have access to resources from teaching materials to school supplies. Support can also be given through positive relationships with capable administrators who will guide them and validate their experiences.
Additionally, while funding will always be a subject of contention, it must be considered in terms of how much teachers will be compensated for training. For example, take into account where teacher training will be held. In developing countries, students are not the only ones who have to travel some distance to go to school, but teachers as well. Travel expenses must also be considered, as a teacher may choose to be absent instead if it meant preserving some of their money for other necessities.
Increased teacher quality leads to improved academic achievement. Academic achievement, along with teacher support, will take students further to either higher education or to their professions. Research has shown that this progression will not only improve a student’s way of life but the economy as well overall.
Teacher development, especially in countries of high poverty and war, is an ongoing crisis that will need determination and consistent work. The classroom always starts with the same person – the teacher. Once governments give teachers adequate support to lift up their students, it will have a domino effect. Capable, effective, and passionate teachers will urge students forward, building up a youth that will enter society with better knowledge and skills with the potential to contribute more to their country.