A Quality Educators for All (Quality-Ed) Inception workshop was held in The Hague, Netherlands, from 25-27 July. EI and its Malian affiliate, the Syndicat National de l’Education et de la culture UNTM (SNEC-UNTM), joined other project partners at the meeting. Through the Quality-Ed Project, 2,555 community teachers, providing education to around 86,700 primary students in the Ségou region, a rural area, will receive in-service training to upgrade their skills.
This project is a joint initiative of EI and Oxfam Novib – part of Oxfam International, one of the larger global development international non-governmental organisations (INGOs). The organisations are now joining forces with the Ministry of Education and teacher training institutions to address the urgent shortage of quality primary educators in Mali through teacher education and professional development.
The main objective of the programme is to provide in-service training to community teachers, leading to their certification and engagement as formal civil servants. Community teachers must be trained, to achieve the goal of having well-trained, qualified teachers in public schools, and acknowledged by the Government at the same level. Teachers trained through the Quality-Ed project must have the same work conditions, qualifications and salaries as public teachers.
Around 60 per cent of education in Mali is state-organised (public education). Otherwise, education is provided by communities (18 per cent) or non-formal education structures financed by external donors or religious groups, and these include madrasas (religious schools, 12 per cent), or private schools (10 per cent). The vast majority of educators working outside the public school system are unqualified or under-qualified.
Quality education in Mali is hindered by the lack of well-trained teachers. To remedy this situation, the Quality-Ed project plans to support the government of Mali in increasing the number of qualified teachers and in improving the skills of educators in line with the 2010 national teacher competence profile and government plans
Attention has focused particularly on gender issues, by ensuring that at least one in five trainees are female. In rural areas, just one in ten teachers are female. The regrettably low literacy rate among women hinders the recruitment of female teachers, and can only be gradually overcome by educating girls.
The meeting brought together representatives from the Mali project steering group, EI and Oxfam Novib, to plan for the implementation of a new phase of the project, funded by Comic Relief. The meeting carried out a risk analysis of the situation in Mali, following the recent political disturbances, and produced a detailed work plan to be implemented between now and 2015.
“EI is based on the firm belief that every child, in whatever educational setting, has the fundamental right to quality education provided by quality teachers,” stated EI Senior Coordinator and Project Leader Dennis Sinyolo.
“Also, quality education requires investment in initial and in-service teacher education and continuing professional development. No education system is better than the quality of its teachers, yet there is a huge shortage of qualified teachers, especially in developing countries, while the number of children and school enrolments are still increasing.”
Sinyolo believes that investment in quality educators has a very high multiplier effect: every good teacher benefits an entire class, year after year. “When those better-educated students become parents, they will likely demand a good education for their children, further strengthening the educational system in general. This is certainly true for girls,” he said.
“I am therefore confident that the development and scaling up of the Quality-Ed programme in Mali will mirror our commitment to the goal of quality educators for the benefit of all children and communities.”
Meeting in July
To progress the Quality-Ed project in Mali further, a Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Meeting will be held in Brussels, Belgium, from 9-10 July. Three research studies will also be undertaken by 2015: exploring on-time school completion; assessing learning outcomes, beyond mere examination results; and reviewing teacher qualifications, certification and employment.
To learn more about the Oxfam/EI Quality Ed Project, please click here