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DNS Malawi – training teachers for rural areas

As we are about to mark the celebration of the World Teachers’ Day this year, we are going to share with you some of our activities we are doing in training primary school teachers in Africa and Asia. The teachers training programs we do are DNS Teacher Training and Preschool of the Future Teacher Training.

Humana People to People developed the two programs as a response to improving human capacity and fighting illiteracy which affect human development. The two programs are contributing to achieving education for all especially giving a chance to a large extent the rural primary schools.

We share with you how our DNS Malawi activities are making notable changes. Enjoy the article below!

Malawi has one of the world’s most dramatic teacher shortages, resulting in primary school classes with around 76 students on average. Unless urgent action is taken, the country is unlikely to close the teacher gap by 2030.

Shortages are particularly problematic for rural areas, where teachers, especially women, are often unwilling to teach. These circumstances contribute to some of the lowest learning outcomes in the world.

To increase the number of primary teachers equipped to teach and stay in rural areas, Development Aid from People to People Malawi recently established four teacher education colleges in rural districts. Training programmes emphasize the integration of theory and subject content, the practical application of teaching skills, student-led research and reflection, community outreach and social development.

Opportunities for teaching experience are provided during initial college-based training and one year of teaching practice. On graduation, the new teachers are expected to work effectively in rural areas, including using teaching and learning materials produced from locally available resources.

The training programmes place a strong emphasis on supporting the needs of all learners, including learners at risk, and establishing community-based projects such as school gardens to support vulnerable children.

The training follows a 30-month cycle, divided into eight periods. During the first five periods, trainees are based at the college to build academic, practical and social skills, and are encouraged to carry out research in surrounding communities on strategies for teaching and working in rural areas. They learn about local development issues and partner with nearby schools for experience in classroom teaching, extracurricular activities and community outreach.

The sixth period is a full school year in teaching practice, with a pair of trainees taking responsibility for a class, assisted and supervised by a mentor at the primary school and the tutors at the college. The trainees return to the college for the seventh and eighth periods – for reflection, specialization and preparation for final examinations.

In a recent evaluation of the programme, 72% of trainees identified the school practice component as the area of study that most prepared them for teaching in rural areas. The evaluation concluded that the strong practical orientation of the programme provided better preparation than the more theoretical approach in government colleges. The evaluation also found that 80% of the trainees gained experience in providing remedial support to trainees, compared with just 14% in government colleges.

The programme has been particularly beneficial in encouraging young women to train as rural teachers. Of the female students in the programme, 80% found that school practice topics prepared them adequately for teaching in rural areas, compared with 38% of female students in government colleges.

Furthermore, 87% of female students in the programme said they would opt for a rural post, compared with 67% of those in government colleges.