World Teachers’ Day 2017 will be celebrated under the theme “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers”, echoing the 2015 theme that followed the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) in September 2015. At that time the teacher empowerment was reaffirmed as a top priority in all education and development strategies.
World Teachers’ Day is celebrated annually worldwide and brings together teachers, governments, multi- and bilateral organizations, civil society, private sectors, and experts in the field of teaching. With the adoption of SDG 4 on education, and the dedicated target 4.c recognizing teachers as key to the achievement of the 2030 Education Agenda, it has become the occasion to mark achievements and reflect on ways to counter the remaining challenges for the promotion of the teaching profession, like the acute shortage of teachers.
Indeed, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the world needs 69 Million teachers if we are to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030. The same article shows that the greatest teacher shortages are in sub-Saharan Africa, which needs a total of about 17 million teachers to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030.
As the world commemorates World Teachers’ Day, Humana People to People would like to share the impact it has made in training teachers in Africa and India. For the past 25 years, Humana People to People members have been training primary school teachers who are dedicated to offer professional teaching in those communities having high illiteracy rates in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as India. The indicator for SDG 4.c states a goal by 2030, to substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States. Focus on training primary school teachers becomes a crucial component in achieving the 2030 Agenda. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals all integrate education as a driving force in transforming lives and engage every person in an effort to leave no-one behind.
To Humana People to People, education then becomes the cog driving the wheel of development and thus teacher training is a major component of striving towards reaching the SDGs in general and the SDGs in education in particular.
The teacher training program equips the teachers with requisite teaching capacity in the form of teaching pedagogy, efficiency in teaching utilizing limited teaching resources, and practicing child-friendly and child centered teaching approaches. Our teachers are trained in community development, as most of the rural African settings are in need of locally driven development, key in facilitating children’s better participation in the schooling process. Thus engaging the wider community becomes part of making it possible for parents and teacher to center efforts on creating the necessary conditions to support children’s education.
The importance of high-quality teaching in shaping pupils’ educational experiences is increasingly being recognized and thus the attention to teacher education. Improving education quality requires far more than just having enough teachers in the education system: teachers need to be trained initially, then supported through professional development and they need to be motivated and willing to continually improve their teaching practices. To fully understand the challenge ahead, it is helpful to know the impact of trained teachers in each country and how many additional trained teachers are needed.
Since 1993 when the first Humana People to People teacher training college started in Mozambique, more than 35 000 primary school teachers have been trained by Humana People to People members in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau, India, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. By end of the year 2016, a total of 12 500 student teachers were enrolled at 53 teacher training colleges in the mentioned countries. The training seeks to contribute to increasing the proportion of teachers in primary education who have received at least the minimum organized teacher training (e.g. pedagogical training) pre-service or in-service required for teaching at the relevant level in a given country.
The Humana People to People Teacher Training Program provides quality inputs, which, coupled with the government curriculum for teacher education, create teachers who teach with passion and proficiency and are equipped with knowledge of the subject matter. The educational program uses a unique digitally based pedagogical framework called Doctrine of Modern Method (DMM), which puts the student-teacher as the driving force in his or her learning and makes both students and teachers responsible for the standard of education and its delivery structure.
Thus the student-teachers experience in their own training the importance of being active in the learning process. They are encouraged to transfer this personal experience onto their own teaching, so as to make the child active in the learning, with the teacher creating an environment that facilitates success for each child.
The digital setup helps the student-teachers grasp the use of technology in education. Use of computers is keenly promoted as a part of the program and many aspects of teacher training, including preparation of teaching and learning materials.
The education includes practice periods in primary schools, where the would-be teacher learns the skills of teaching and becomes equipped to meet the challenges of being a teacher in a rural setting. The student-teacher in teaching practice receives supervision and guidance support from experienced teachers. Parallel to the teaching practice, there are studies in didactics and subject matters. A lot of what is being learnt theoretically is translated into practical demonstration. Observations are made by both the local primary school headmaster and the supervisor from the Teacher Training College for further mentorship of the student-teacher. The student-teachers also carry out community outreach activities, among them getting to know the life conditions of the parents, discussing with them about equal access to education for boys and girls, making campaigns about ending child marriage, HIV and AIDS prevention messages, and interventions targeting water and sanitation improvement in the nearby community.
Humana People to People members are increasingly providing opportunities for continuous professional development for active teachers; specifically, although not limited to, graduates of Humana Teacher Training Colleges. In its early stages, this effort essentially consists of a network for Teacher Training College graduates and their peers, through which they can receive ongoing support and training, as well as connect with each other to share knowledge and experiences. Network members attend weekend or holiday training sessions where they refresh their skills and knowledge, update themselves on content and share what has worked in their own practice to the benefit of others.
Training sessions build on the methodology used in pre-service training with a learner-centred approach. Teachers in the program are encouraged to take the lead in their respective communities and promote improved learning conditions at their schools.
An inclusive approach towards education as well as increased access to employment opportunities is essential to not only ensure the human rights of people with disabilities, but also for communities to be able to benefit from the unique skills and talents that they possess. In Mozambique, three colleges regularly enroll students with disabilities, and ADPP Mozambique, a member of Humana People to People, has been instrumental in breaking down barriers and encouraging more inclusive community environments for both pupils and teachers with disabilities.
This has been achieved through collaboration with other organizations which specialize in advocacy for people with disabilities.
Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” True to the statement is the support needed to have capable teachers who are dedicated and motivated to practice teaching as well as carry out other activities supporting community development.
Humana People to People is committed to its role in the education sector of the countries where member associations operate. Achieving quality inclusive education for all children and learners is a highly ambitious goal, yet imperative if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda.
To achieve the Agenda, intentional and intensive efforts will be required of donors, governments, civil society, academia, communities, parents and children; with each stakeholder playing their part. Humana People to People is confident in its role and objectives in the coming years, and looks forward to the increased investment, collaboration and political action that the new Agenda demands.
Written 29 September 2017