KAMPALA – The Ministry of Education and Sports is proposing that teacher trainees should carry out school practice for one a full year as one of the key ingredients to improve the quality of the teachers produced from teacher training institutions.
The suggestion is part of the broader changes that are sweeping over teacher education and training to meet the objectives of the 2019 National Teacher Policy.
The task force which was put in place to establish the Uganda National Teacher Institute-UNITE and develop teaching education programmes and their respective curriculum says that one out of the four years of teacher education should be dedicated to school practice.
Professor Betty Ezati, Chairperson of the UNITE establishment taskforce, notes that the one-year school practice would give trainees enough time to interact with all the necessary aspects in the teaching–learning process and application of pedagogical skills acquired in class.
“It has been proved that the time currently allocated to school practice is limited yet it is a critical aspect in preparing future teachers,” says Prof. Ezati. “We think that a year of practice will give trainees enough time to interact with learners and the school environment before passing them out.”
All teacher trainees are required to undergo mandatory school practice to expose them to a real school environment before they are passed out.
School practice helps the student to put into practice what they have learnt and Secondary teacher trainees carry out two teaching school practices while their primary and early childhood counterparts undergo three of them, including one called ‘child to study’ in their first year of study and two others while in their final years.
During school practice, a student-teacher is attached to a school where he/she is assigned a class to teach under close supervision. Currently each school practice takes six weeks two of which are specifically for planning, developing schemes of work, and teaching aids.
Elizabeth Rwamwenge, Principal Kisoro Primary Teachers’ College, welcomes the idea noting that the time allocated to the school practice in the current setting does not offer enough time for students to put what they learn into practice.
However, Richard Ssekadde, Deputy Principal Busubizi Core PTC, says although educators support the idea of having a one-year school practice, it shouldn’t be handled as one. Ssekadde says that there is a need to partition the process into small segments which can be carried out at given intervals.
Ssekadde further adds that if school practice is segmented, it will give teacher trainees the ability to carry out training from different schools which will enable them to be exposed to different environments and learners.
Professor Ezati accepts that although they have decided that school practice should be for one year, when and how it should be carried is still a subject of discussion before the final step is taken.
The new changes in teacher education are likely to start this year. according to authorities at the education ministry implementation will take phases to implement fully, starting with secondary school teachers.