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YouthLearn Updates,  March 14, 2006

Changed attitudes and practice among educators in DRC

Monica Biswas, of YouthLearn, has just returned from Mbandaka, in Equateur province of DRC. This was the third training with a group of administrators who are in charge of training and inspecting teachers in primary school. Anecdotal data so far indicate positive impacts on teaching practices.

I've been working with this particular group of administrators for just over one year. They have come a long long way. They are at ease with the concepts of “active pedagogy”, letting students discover things on their own, letting them learn from each other, as well as from the teacher. We heard about the administrators' observations of teachers, which were also promising: Teachers are creative in finding and making didactic materials to support their lessons; teachers are working with people in their community to make the lessons relevant for the students; teachers and principals are paying more attention to how the girls participate in and succeed in school; Male principals are valuing their female teachers more, and are allowing them greater control to make decisions about teaching.

While there, I also had a chance to reflect on our model of professional development too. Prior to this trip, I had just returned from the ITEST Summit in DC where we discussed best practices in detail, and I was pleased that we tried to integrate a number of these practices. We could have improved however (as always) by linking more closely the teacher and students kits with “model lessons”, so that a teacher could implement a lesson easily. This could be an interesting project for inspectors and field staff to be involved in.

This training event reminded me of the power of these approaches. It has engendered a solid trust between us and the participants, which has made it possible for us to work together to find ways to improve education even with strict constraints. Even more difficult, it has allowed us to address issues of equity with respect to education for girls-- Participants are now paying attention to disparities and taking steps to increase access and opportunities for girls.

Posted by mbiswas on March 14, 2006 | YouthLearn Updates