- IV. Quality Processes
Until recently, much discussion of educational quality centred on system inputs, such as infrastructure and pupil-teacher ratios, and on curricular content. In recent years, however, more attention has been paid to educational processes — how teachers and administrators use inputs to frame meaningful learning experiences for students. Their work represents a key factor in ensuring quality school processes.
Professional learning for teachers.
The highest quality teachers, those most capable of helping their students learn, have deep mastery of both their subject matter and pedagogy (Darling-Hammond, 1997). The preparation that teachers receive before beginning their work in the classroom, however,
varies significantly around the world and even within the least developed countries. In Cape Verde, Togo and Uganda, for example, 35 per cent to 50 per cent of students have teachers who had no teacher training. Yet in Benin, Bhutan, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar and Nepal, over 90 per cent of students do have teachers with some form of teacher training. In these latter countries, most teachers have, at least, lower secondary education; this contrasts sharply with Cape Verde and Tanzania where over 60 per cent of students have teachers with only a primary education (Postlewaithe, 1998). Perhaps as a consequence of too little preparation before entering the profession, a number of teachers in China, Guinea, India and Mexico were observed to master neither the subject matter they taught nor the pedagogical skills required for good presentation of the material (Carron & Chau, 1996). This affects educational quality since student achievement, especially beyond basic skills, depends largely on teachers’ command of subject matter (Mullens, Murnance & Willett, 1996) and their ability to use that knowledge to help students learn. A recent evaluation of the East African Madrasa (Pre-school) Programme noted the importance of mentoring by trainers in the form of continuous support and reinforcement of teacher learning by on-site visits to classrooms following a two week orientation training and alongside weekly trainings in Madrasa Resource Centres. (Brown, Brown & Sumra, 1999).