LETTERS: Address failure rate at teacher training colleges
The mass failure of students at the various public teachers training colleges (TTCs) should be a concern to the education sector. Teachers are trained to make finished products out of raw materials. If they fail then doubts would begin to linger over the quality and relevance of their training or both.Various hypotheses abound. First, the trainees were not adequately prepared for the examinations, meaning the tutors never did their part well. It is also possible preparations and choice of exam items were parallel — the preparations were adequate but irrelevant.Probably the trainees just didn’t see the need to work hard; there was nothing to motivate them in the whole exercise thus it never mattered whether they passed or failed.That TTCs are well staffed, with tutors teaching as low as four lessons a week dispels any rumour on time constraints, in relation to preparation. It is also presumed that for admission to any tertiary institution, choice rides before qualification — someone goes in for what he or she is passionate about.Then the owner of content (Ministry of Education) and the owner of quality (Teachers Service Commission) are reading from different scripts on the same issue but whose effects will embrace both parties.The ones whose failure baffled stakeholders were admitted to the institutions with grades not lower than C plain but still ended up failing their examinations.Earlier on, admissions into the same institutions were pegged at D+ or Division Four and one rarely heard of failures, leave alone mass failures.
When we talk of ‘good’ teachers, one would want to consider this not on the basis of the quality of the papers such teachers hold but on the outcome of their work — the results of their classes at national examinations.Though this may also mislead sometimes.More often than not when the employer deploys teachers from ‘performing schools’ to positions of higher responsibilities elsewhere, the outputs are miles apart.Some of the academies with ‘good’ results have in their classroom teachers who have never seen the roads to TTCs. Equally, some of the teachers who made us be whom we do so before they went for training and we remember them for that.So why the hullabaloo about ‘mass failures’ when facts have it that it is not the training that makes teachers — teachers are born. Or is it not a fact that some of the teachers who had the best grades at training are the worst in class or that small secondary schools with only the principal as the trained teacher repeatedly outdo their older and better-endowed colleagues!If I were the Ministry of Education, I would revise the training curriculum at the TTCs to reflect the relevant competencies of a teacher — psychology and methodology.Of what relevance is studying complex literature texts to teaching basic literacy and numeracy in the lower primary?Then I would strictly regulate admission into these institutions to market demands so that disillusionment does not set in, discouraging trainees. Similarly, if I were the TSC I would call for policy change to allow me to employ untrained teachers who would be allowed to learn on the job for at least two years before applying for training.Qualification for training would be based on an entrance exam which one has to pass so that at the end of it I am sure I have the right people for the correct location.Training of teacher trainers would be separate and specific and any trainer posted to a TTC would be the right one for the job. The colleges would no longer be a dumping ground for burnt-out, indisciplined or incompetent high school teachers.In conclusion, that they failed has spoken, can someone take the responsibility considering what a sick system of education means to a nation.