“Brighter Futures”, not just for the children here, but for Ghana itself. I’ve borrowed these words from the Sabre Trust, the local charitable trust who has made our LRTT program possible. Brighter Futures through education, to empower and provide opportunities in life and work, that is the goal.
Our sessions this week had a very different purpose because we were working with the local education officers and tutors from the teacher training college. We wanted them to have an understanding of the new information we shared with teachers last week so they can encourage and support the implementation of these new strategies. One of the challenges we faced was that teachers had differing understanding about when and how phonics should be taught. Our goal this week was to reach some shared expectations between the education officers and training providers on the delivery of phonics, with the understanding that someone needs to actually pass this on to the teachers!
I had a conversation with Jon Beaulieu, the country director for Sabre Trust, and I asked him what he thought the main challenge was to improving teaching practice in classrooms. Interestingly his thoughts mirrored mine. He didn’t say resources, teacher training or even money. He said policy. Change needs to come from all levels, with the momentum from the top. This matches the conclusion that I have come to, that an individual teacher may have the passion and even the knowledge to improve their teaching practice, but it is incredibly hard and lonely to enact change in isolation. Teachers need support from their head teachers, schools from their education officers. There needs to be a policy of accountability, where progress towards improved practices is supported.
In some ways this week has been much harder than our week with the teachers. Last week we started an hour late each day because of the Ghanaian relaxed approach to time keeping. This week it was a couple of hours before people started trickling in. Admittedly we are working with administrators who still have responsibilities this week, organising exams and teaching lectures. It has been hard to have the same energy levels as when we were working in classrooms packed with teachers.
For change to be implemented and long lasting, we need the education officers and trainers on board to drive the process. So although I wasn’t looking forward to this week as much as our time with the class teachers, I appreciate the importance of working with everyone involved in education to move forward together.