Although the government provides teacher trainings on a regular basis, there is almost no monitoring and supervision mechanism in place as the provision for resource persons has recently been scrapped, while the local government officials are overloaded with other tasks. This could be the reason why these trainings are not effective
The government has attempted to improve students' learning outcomes through its successive policies and plans over the years. The ongoing School Sector Development Programme (2016- 2023) focusses on making the teaching and learning process in the classroom effective through various means. In fact, the teaching and learning process that takes place in the classroom is directly related to improving students' learning outcome.
Realising this, the government has over the years put in place a system of delivering a number of teacher trainings. However, it is often said publicly that the skills and knowledge imparted in the trainings are rarely put into practice, questioning the quality of training provided by the government. The adoption of a student-centric teaching methodology can result in significant improvements in the students' learning outcome.
As a key stakeholder, a teacher's commitment is necessary for this. This has been proved through a project undertaken by Mercy Corps in collaboration with BASE, the partner NGO, in the past three years in 30 public schools of Kailali district.
This article attempts to shed light on how the project has been successful in improving teaching methods to bring about positive outcomes in students' learning, and what teachers, schools and stakeholders can learn from this.
The project is operating a girls' club (GC), which is a remedial extra class for core subjects beyond the school hours on Fridays and Saturdays. In the GC, the respective subject teachers conduct classes as facilitators. The teachers, or facilitators, are provided training at different stages.
The major focus of such facilitation training is to orient them about student-centric teaching methods, including adopting innovative teaching methods in the changing contexts to make classroom processes effective.
In the GC, girls participate actively in different curricular activities. Specifically, girls are provided with opportunities to revise lessons they find difficult in the regular classes. The respective facilitators also make them do project work, group work and presentation.
In fact, girls find such a learning process useful. As a result, they perceive that their self-confidence has been boosted as they have to participate extensively in discussions and presentations, acquiring the soft skills necessary in the present context.
In operating the GC, facilitators use a number of teaching materials, such as newsprint paper, worksheets and other locally available resources. By means of such materials, girls find it easier to learn and understand. While facilitating the GC, girls are provided with opportunities to engage themselves in the learning process with the help of such teaching and learning materials. Doing this, they not only enhance their knowledge about the subject matter but also acquire oratory skills in an engaging learning environment. Meanwhile, the project staff carry out regular monitoring of the teaching method in the GC as well as regular class, using tools such as forms, checklists and questionnaires, and reporting is done accordingly. Based on the teacher training, a self-assessment tool has also been prepared and provided to the teachers.
They use that tool on a monthly basis to assess their teaching and learning methods and find out areas of improvement. In this way, they enhance their knowledge, skills and professionalism as a regular process on their own.
As a result of these interventions, there has been significant improvement in the students' learning outcome.
The baseline and midline evaluations conducted by external evaluators indicate these points.
The evaluation shows that the learning outcome in numeracy has almost doubled (from 23 to 45 percent) while literacy has increased about eight percent (from 43 to 51 percent) between baseline and midline evaluations. The results exceed the targets set out for the midline evaluations, and the results are far higher than those of the control schools.
The most important reason for higher learning outcomes in the project schools is quality of teaching methods. Meanwhile, there are a number of other project activities that have contributed to reducing girls' time for household chores and increasing learning activities at home, leading to increased learning outcomes over time.
This experience demonstrates that learning outcomes can be improved even by bringing about minor changes in the teaching methods. For this, teachers' pro-activeness is the first condition. The support of the school administration is equally important, which should provide teaching materials, motivate and create a conducive learning environment.
The teaching methods adopted in the GC can be replicated in other classes, contexts and schools to improve learning outcomes.
Local governments may consider adopting student-centric teaching methods instead of lecture methods that are in vogue, and they also may operate extra classes for core subjects.
Follow-up monitoring visits and sharing of the outcome with the respective teachers to come up with action plans for further improvement are crucial to improving girls' learning outcome. Although the government provides teacher trainings on a regular basis, there is almost no monitoring and supervision mechanism in place as the provision for resource persons has recently been scrapped, while the local government officials are overloaded with other tasks. This could be the reason why these trainings are not effective.
Although there has been significant improvement in the student's access to education in the last few decades, there has, however, been little improvement in learning among the students.
Thus, there has to be a commitment among the stakeholders to improve learning outcomes at the school level, which has been a matter of concern at both the local and national level.
A version of this article appears in the print on June 15, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.