Looking back on the three-year programme Learning outcomes in primary education 2014-2016 the logical question that comes to mind is “Have we achieved our goals?”. Quickly followed by another question “Will the improvements continue after the programme has ended?”.
In 2014, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MOEYS) and VVOB Cambodia had three main goals with the programme:
- Upgrade the pre-service teacher training for the subjects of mathematics and science at all the Provincial Teacher Training Centres.
- Upgrade the quality of the teaching practicum at all the Provincial Teacher Training Centres and their affiliated practice schools.
- Strengthen the system of quality assurance of the pre-service teacher training.
Both partners are satisfied with the post-programme results and agree that we have reached our goals indeed.
Competences, tools, reports and a whole lot more
All 84 math and 52 science teacher trainers received several trainings on different topics. Math teacher trainers improved their competences in teaching about rational numbers, formative assessment and how to develop and use low-cost teaching aids. Science teacher trainers on the other hand improved their competences in teaching about primary chemistry, primary physics and formative assessment.
The model teachers who in fact teach pupils the beginnings of math and science at the practice schools also enjoyed several trainings and strengthened their teaching.
Throughout the programme both teacher trainers and model teachers improved their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and increased the overall quality of their teaching. This was seen through lesson observations and was also reflected in their higher scoring on the PCK-test.
To upgrade the quality of the teaching practicum all 527 teacher trainers and more than 2,300 model teachers were trained. Their process of giving feedback to a student teacher during teaching practice was examined and remodelled. Observations of mentoring sessions show some major improvements. Teachers more often ask the student teachers for their own reflections on their lessons before giving feedback as mentor. Teachers now also put more emphasis on the student teachers’ strengths than their shortcomings. They also listen more actively and encourage the student teachers to come up with their own solutions. Student teachers on their part acknowledge that they feel more supported by their mentors and that they learn more to improve their teaching.
All layers responsible for the quality assurance system were trained to improve their competences in planning, monitoring and evaluation. The teacher trainers have a stronger focus on their own professional development and they discuss their progress and development needs with their peers during subject group meetings. These meetings on quality in teaching and learning are reported at management level, giving the 41 trained directors more insight into the professional development of staff and the quality of teaching at their centre. This is reflected in the annual operational plans that the centres make each year. The amount of actions and activities planned to further strengthen the professional development of teacher trainers is proportionately higher than in previous operational plans.
As this information reaches the 43 trained staff members of the ministry department of teacher training, they are better equipped to follow-up and support the centres.
Mr. Men Vannary, vice chief of the Planning and Pedagogical Research Office at the Teacher Training Department, looks back on the programme: “I really appreciate all the support VVOB has provided to build the capacity of the ministry staff and especially of the teacher trainers and model teachers of practice schools. This support is a big contribution to improving the quality of teacher training. All the capacity development activities (input trainings, workshops, study visits and coaching) that I participated in significantly improved my skills and knowledge to become a more competent staff member, which helps me to be more effective in how I plan and support the professional development of teacher trainers.”
The change continues
Recently the ministry has put together a project team to redesign the teacher training curriculum from the current two-year post-secondary training into a four-year bachelor degree. VVOB Cambodia is a member of the project team and will strive to integrate the developed manuals, tools and reports into the new curriculum. Regarding the sustainability of the programme’s outcomes, this will secure that new generations of teachers, model teachers and teacher trainers keep developing stronger competences.
Therefore, VVOB Cambodia in partnership with the MOEYS and funding from DGD Belgium will start a new five-year programme Strengthening math results and teaching (SMART) 2017-2021 that will build on and further deploy the strengthened competences of model teachers, teacher trainers, directors and ministry staff.