Quality Education Still a Challenge

The existing education and training policy of Ethiopia identified access, quality, equity and relevance as the main challenges of the education system of the nation. In an attempt to meet the challenges, the government commenced various strategies and plans. However, after immense efforts, the issue of quality continues to be a challenge. This has prompted the government to launch the General Education Quality Improvement Package (GEQIP). Even after the introduction of GEQIP, the issue of quality is still a challenging situation.

The issues of quality of education in Ethiopia is a chronic challenge. Let us substantiate this argument with facts.

A document prepared by RTI International and the Centre for Development Consulting in October 2010 on Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) indicates that 34pc of students in grade two were unable to read a single word of a grade-level relevant story; 48pc of students were unable to answer a single comprehension question on a reading comprehension test; and only 5pc of assessed students in grade two were able to reach 60 words per minute in reading fluency.

The National Educational Assessment and Examination Agency published Ethiopian 4th National Learning Assessment of grade fourth and eighth pupils and Ethiopian First national Learning Assessment of Grades 10 and 12 in 2013 and 2010 respectively. The main findings of the assessments indicated that the overall test performance of the students was far below the minimum standard. There was also a disparity between male and female, urban and rural students in which female and rural students are disadvantaged. Moreover, the assessment showed the result of students in natural science subjects needs further attention.

The studies categorised factors contributing to the problems into three variables such as: personal (student gender, language used at home and additional reading materials), home (family size, father education, number of meals a day and home tutorial) and school (student absence per semester and the commuting time for the student between home and school).

I would like to see teachers’ preparation as an additional factor for the achievement gap we are witnessing in the Ethiopian education system. Educator Sharon Feiman-Nemser states that what students learn is unswervingly associated to what and how teachers teach. What and how teachers teach relies on the knowledge, skills, and commitments they bring to their teaching and the opportunities they have to continue learning in and from their practice.

In other words, the achievement of students can be highly be facilitated by providing well-prepared teachers. Lack of preparedness among teachers, both pre-service and in-service, may become a hindering factor for the learning of students. Therefore, are teacher preparation programs adequate enough to bring the intended changes?

The studies of Ministry of Education shows, as indicated in ESDPV, 70pc of teachers would leave the profession if given the chance. This bluntly tells us that the education system of the country is filled with teachers who are not happy with their jobs. These people are in the school domain just because they have no other alternative as an income earning source.

The Ministry of Education, with the intention of alleviating the problem of teachers’ preparation, has introduced Post Graduate Diploma Program (PGDT). The curriculum framework for secondary schools teachers’ education program in Ethiopia states the rationale for the program as the following: “The professional competence of teachers is deficient, the content of knowledge of the teacher is unsatisfactory, the teaching skills and techniques are very basic, teachers do not match up to the standards and expectations of their professions, practicum receives inadequate emphasis and is insufficiently implemented , the quality of course and methods of teaching are theoretical and teacher centered and there is lack of professionalism and ethical values in Ethiopia teacher education program.”

However, forced by lack of trained teachers, regional states employ individuals who did not take PGDT. Thus, deviating from the original plan, those teachers who did not take PGDT began to attend the program in an in-out-in approach. This means they began to teach without finishing or in some case without starting the pedagogical preparation. Thus, they learn the basics of how to teach while they are teaching. This is the best example of compromising the quality of education.

The difference between a chemistry teacher and a chemistry expert is that the former knows chemistry pedagogically. This means that he/she can nicely transmit the theme to the students, therefore, delivering the intended purpose. When the student struggles to understand the explanations, the person who is pedagogically acquainted has got another means to explain the theme. On the other hand, when we assign an individual without pedagogical preparation as a “teacher,” we are letting someone drive without a license. Obviously, the individual may cause harm which may extend to death both to him and the others.

Compromising quality education is similar to this example; in most cases, a teacher who lacks preparation and interest considers the profession as a means to a goal. What we are currently witnessing is that the nation is assigning teachers who lack both professional preparation and interest for the profession with full pedagogical and legal responsibilities. It is a sad reality that teachers who lack preparation go through a sink or swim situation.

The outcome, as we have seen in the above-mentioned examples is that the achievement of students suffers. With this kind of compromise, we cannot avert the possibility national challenges that we are going through. I strongly recommend that the various bodies who are responsible for teacher training should work together in an interconnected and supplementary manner. Unless this is done, we will continue compromising the quality of education.

By doing so, we will create a great threat on the desire of the nation to emerge as an economically independent country.

By Ephrem T. Yacob (PhD)

Published on Jan 24,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 873]



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