Should the teacher always know more than the pupil? General question! Should the teacher teach if he/she herself stands on a pedestal of mediocrity and below par performances? That would be the burning question which ensues from the immediacy of Teacher Needs Assessment (TNA), 2011 results.
An evaluation was carried out for teachers from community, primary, middle and higher secondary schools (tested in subject content and pedagogical skills as part of the Teacher Needs Assessment (TNA), 2011), mentioned in the latest REC study.
And it will not please the many concerned eyes and ears of parents who have submitted the foundations of their children’s future under the will of these purveyors of knowledge; to find out that many have demonstrated lack-luster and average performances.
For Mathematics, 236 lower secondary teachers were evaluated and the average score was only 44.6% while middle secondary teachers scored 55.1% and community primary teachers scored 47.2%.
Teachers of middle secondary schools performed better than their colleagues in community and higher secondary schools.
The TNA report states in general skills in Maths, middle secondary teachers did relatively better than others, scoring 63.4%.
Having learnt about low scores of primary teachers, there was a lukewarm response from a commerce teacher Tshering Phuntsho of Kelki higher secondary school in Thimphu.
In fact he reacted positively toward teachers and said that despite the low scored report card, teachers do have good knowledge and high skills in the subject they teach.
From his own experience in Mongar School he shared “I have seen good teachers performing low in TNA test”.
He said they were found appearing tests without any preparation thinking that it won’t affect them.
He said, in fact, teachers were found like sitting for an IQ test and feels that these could be some of the factors for low performances.
Likewise Karma Choden, a teacher from the East who recently joined Dungmin Primary School under Pemagatshel Dzongkhag feels such performances are likely to take place because for the classroom teaching, a teacher prepares himself/herself well and later teach to the students. While for the TNA test teachers might not have prepared or might not have known what kind of questions are being set for the exam.
“However it would be a matter of concern if he/she doesn’t really know what he/she is supposed to know in order to teach their students,” said Karma Choden.
Some teachers said though teachers are specialized in their own subjects when they undergo training, it takes a different turn when they are placed in remote places where he/she has to teach multiple subjects, for which he/she is not specialized at all. This scenario was found common in primary schools.
Ugyen Namgay, a Maths teacher of Yangneer Community Primary School under Trashigang, agreed to the above statement, for getting trained in one but having to teach multiple subjects.
He was one of those who participated in the TNA test and was surprised to know the low score of teachers in Maths. His performance was somewhat good but he said almost 40% of the questions were difficult for them to solve.
The questions were set quite at a higher level, almost at the level of Royal Civil Service Commission’s exams which was puzzling, he said.
He said low performances on the part of teachers could be because of limited examination time as well as lack of resources in the remote areas.
However he said teachers really need to ‘pull up their socks’ and keep in touch with the knowledge in order to give better learning platform to the students.
Similarly, Sherab who is also a Math teacher of Lingmithang Community Primary School said it was obvious since the questions were of higher level in TNA test while she teaches at primary level.
“It was just like Preliminary Exams with multiple choices which would luckily be right at times or unluckily it might have been wrong also,” she said sharing that she might have made mistakes as did her colleagues.
Researcher Sonam Wangdi of the REC said the main objective of TNA test is not to grade or degrade a teacher; nor to pass or fail a teacher as well but to show the strengths and weaknesses of a teacher.
When it comes to score of primary teachers, he agreed upon the views of some of the teachers for the questions being set at a higher level, explaining that TNA questionnaires were at a higher level which is actually internationally accepted.
“Definitely they might have faced difficulties” he added.
REC is currently working on a National Education Framework to address such issues. In order to address such issues, REC’s recommendations include the need to strengthen pre-service and in-service teacher education curriculum based on specific recommendation on a teachers’ strengths and weaknesses.
Researcher Sonam Wangdi said we could also work to develop targeted teacher training module based on the needs identified by TNA while also ensuring that trainings and workshops are conducted where misconceptions are addressed based on TNA and modify in their curriculum.
The Royal Education Council (REC) conducted tests for about 2,800 teachers and 405 Schools across the country.