The Importance of Teacher Training
The quality of education is only as good as the quality of the teachers. This is why improving the quality of teacher training is a priority for us.
Too often, however, there is inadequate investment in the training and management of teachers. In the countries where we work, training is often poor and a large proportion of teachers – especially at primary level – are untrained. Even worse, the terms and conditions of employment are unattractive and uncompetitive. The consequence is that teaching does not attract the brightest and the best and many of those who are capable quickly move on to something that is better paid. Becoming a teacher is simply the first step on a career ladder that quickly leads away from school – leaving teaching as a low status, poorly paid short-term job.
In contrast, we believe it is essential to invest in teaching – in training, in teaching materials, in management support and in professional development. We need to expand the numbers of teachers so that class sizes are reduced, and to support initiatives that will create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, especially one that includes far more women.
With more and better trained teachers it is more realistic to adopt an approach to teaching that is much less focused on memory, rote learning and passive methods. In their place more child-centred approaches may be adopted, with individual work balanced by group learning. A stronger emphasis on active learning will lay the foundations for learning characterised by independent thought, problem-solving, better communication skills and one that can accommodate the different needs of different learners. In this way, education is not just about passing exams – though we recognise that is important in all parts of the world – but about giving young people the ability, knowledge and confidence to participate more fully at home, in their village or community, and at a national level.
Supporting the Use and Teaching of English Language
The English language has a dominating role in both education institutions and public life across the Eastern and Horn of Africa region and has a unique status across the globe. Recent research on the use of English language indicates that it has moved from being a language merely spoken in English-speaking countries to being a language that is spoken and used as a form of communication in a variety of situations. This change in the view and use of the English language has also influenced educational systems and the national curriculums.
In South Sudan, changes in the education systems have resulted into demand for English language skills. Over the years WTI developed internal expertise in the delivery and management of all forms of English language training. Sudan has also decided through its education reforms to teach English as a subject from Primary One. Without the required skills, our experience in South Sudan is that teachers lack the confidence to deliver the curriculum, leading to drop in quality and therefore educational outcomes. WTI continues to build in country expertise in Sudan and South Sudan by directly training teachers and engaging stakeholders on policy issues to facilitate implementation.
Our programmes to improve the quality of education in Sudan and South Sudan include:
PENCILS (Pupils Enrolled and Nurtured through quality teaching and Caring Inclusive Learning Spaces) aims to increase access to education for 500,000 refugees and host community girls, boys, and children with disabilities through acquiring literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional skills for their academic success across six regions of South Sudan. Read about our intended outcomes.
Connecting Classrooms helps to quip teachers with the tools they needs to prepare learners for the 21st Century. Focusing on 21st Century skills, Windle Trust International delivers this programme in South Sudan in collaboration with the British Council. Read more about the programme.