Boosting quality and equity in primary education
By Saifunnahar Sumi, UNICEF Freelance Writer
A class two student Saikat Hossain Adib radiates happiness as he can now complete all his lessons in the classroom without carrying them home. His learning ability has improved and this is reflected in his study results, which make his parents very satisfied.
Attributing his success to the care and dedication of his teachers Adib says, “My teachers are very good, they don’t beat me, they speak to me nicely, I can read very well now.”
“I was very worried about him in the last two years. But now I am happy that my son is improving and has upgraded himself to the first level (advance learners’ group) in this school,” says Akhi Akter, Adib’s mother.
“The teachers are very friendly and caring, they make learning fun for the students and help them to complete their lessons and studies in class”, she adds.
Murshida Ferdousi, Adib’s teacher in class two uses the Each Child Learns (ECL) methodology to engage with her students in the classroom. She learned this methodology through the programme Diploma in Primary Education (DPEd), a one-and-half-year training course to help support the delivery of quality education in Bangladesh. At present Murshida is teaching in Adib’s school as part of the practical component of the training.
“Using the techniques of DPEd, we start by conducting a baseline survey on student’s reading capacity to categorise them in three groups such as advance, average, and slow learners” explains Murshida who enrolled in DPEd, in Mymensing Primary Teachers’ Training Institute (PTI) in 2016. This categorization is intended to provide appropriate support to all children based on their differentiated learning needs.
“The average and slow learners’ groups need additional time and care of teachers and students to improve their learning and complete all lessons” says Murshida who initiated her career as a primary school teacher in 2009.
“Before, I used to follow strictly the syllabus and gave homework to all my students. Now I understand that the best way to improve children’s learning ability is by working and engaging with them in class, stimulating an active participation”, adds Murshida.
The DPEd intended as a pre-service, is a training initiative that provides teachers with skills and knowledge to teach effectively in a class while recognizing individual learning needs of every child. The curriculum content of the DPEd has been upgraded from the former Certificate in Education course and is based on child-centered pedagogy in order to improve teaching quality and children’s learning process.
The DPEd curriculum allows the use of participatory, interactive and creative methodologies, to understand children’s individual needs, develop their cognitive, social and affective learning and to construct and maintain a supportive and inclusive educational environment.
Like Murshida, Nurul Islam and Shahi Sultana also enrolled in DPEd in Mymensing PTI in 2016 and are putting into practice the recently acquired knowledge, teaching students of class two in the same school. The Police Line Government Primary School is an establishment where DPEd trainees go to practice and at the same time, as Prativa Chacrabati head mistress of the establishment notes, is a school where all teachers have received the DPEd training and use the ECL methodology in the classroom to help the students.
Bridging quality and equity gap
Bangladesh has made significant progress in expanding access to primary education. However, significant challenges in quality and equity remain at all levels of the education system.
In line with the new National Education Policy for the reform of the education sector, the Government of Bangladesh is implementing the third Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP3), which intends to improve access, quality and equity in education.
The implementation of the DPEd programme is linked to the Each Child Learns (ECL) intervention as both are founded on the same philosophy and use the same methodology. ECL is being implemented in 20 primary schools around each PTI where teachers go for hands-on practical training.
As of 1 January 2016, the DPEd intervention has been implemented in 50 PTIs. The programme has given over 10,000 teachers and officials the opportunity to improve their teaching and supervisory skills to enhance students’ learning. The DPEd will be expanded to all 60 PTIs by January 2017.
Once the DPEd intervention is implemented nationally, it will benefit approximately 12,000 teachers per year who will contribute to improved quality of education to benefit approximately 20 million children in primary schools in Bangladesh.