Twenty years ago, the education system in the small West African country of Benin was in a state of near collapse. Today it is rebounding, emerging from decades of political strife and little government support. Access to education has improved markedly, and great increases have occurred in enrollment. Training the educators who will sustain these improvements is the mission of an EDC project that started in 2009.
“Benin’s teacher training colleges were closed for over a decade, so there is a whole generation of teachers with no formal training or who were trained using methods from two generations ago,” says EDC’s Carrie Lewis.
To help bring about reform in the West African nation, EDC is partnering with the country’s Ministry of Public Education to implement the Teacher Motivation and Training (TMT) project.
The four-year project is using a tool known as SCOPE (short for Standards-based Classroom Observation Protocol for Educators) to improve Benin’s educational system by implementing a common set of standards and practices. SCOPE, which was developed by EDC and used successfully to improve teaching in Egypt and the Philippines, measures a teacher’s skill level in such areas as classroom management, collaborative learning, and fostering an active, student-centered learning environment.
Most of Benin’s teachers ranked below average on the SCOPE scale, scoring two or three out of five possible points. To turn around this low level of performance, TMT is being used at the five teacher training colleges in Benin that support primary grade educators. An eight-module instructor training manual will guide teacher training instructors in learning SCOPE-supported methodologies. Internet-connected resource centers at each of the training colleges will provide teachers with new resources as well as the ability to collaborate across the different schools.
TMT, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, not only assists in the development of the next generation of teachers, but it is also working to improve the skills of current teachers. School administrators and advisors are learning to use SCOPE to evaluate the performance of teachers and offer them support in improving their teaching.
“Administrators had many years of experience, but their formal training was lacking and their skill level was on the same level as teachers,” says Lewis. “Now they are working with SCOPE, and they love it. If they maintain this level of excitement around using SCOPE, they will see results in improved teaching in schools.”
SCOPE is also being used to identify and reward the top teachers and schools at regional and national levels. A program is being piloted in a group of schools to determine if merit awards have an impact on school performance and attitudes toward education.
Originally published on October 25, 2011