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The World Literacy Summit

TESSA - An international research and development initiative 

TESSA on Facebook

The Global EDtalks channel

Be the first to post a comment on this video.

The World Literacy Summit

TESSA - An international research and development initiative 

TESSA on Facebook

The Global EDtalks channel

Be the first to post a comment on this video.

Speaker: Gareth Dart

Gareth Dart works for the University of Worcester (UK) and has also has a long standing involvement with the TESSA Consortium -Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. He is their link person with Zambia, one of the ten current countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that TESSA works with.  To help address the lack of teachers needed to achieve education in the region and the quality of teachers and their practice, TESSA developed a set of open education resources based broadly on primary school curricular across a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. Gareth outlines the ways these resources are used, shares the findings of a recent independent evaluation of the TESSA programme, and describes some of the challenges the TESSA programme faces, including internet access, the use of mobile technology, translating for local languages and funding. 

Views 21,952
Date added: 12 May 2014
Duration: 9:57

Well I’m Gareth, Gareth Dart. I currently work at the University of Worcester here in the United Kingdom. Previous to that I was working in Botswana in Teacher Education for six or seven years, particularly in the areas of special and inclusive education but in Teacher Education more generally as well. Since coming back I’ve been involved in working for the TESSA Consortium that’s Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be their link person with Zambia which is one of the ten current countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that TESSA works with. 

Well look, the broad context is that I’m sure many people know that their Sub-Saharan Africa is hugely lacking in both the number of teachers that are needed to achieve education for and also the quality of teachers who currently exist and the quality of their practice. So it is into that gap that the TESSA open education resources seek to place themselves. So TESSA started off as a consortium between Open University here in the UK and a couple of African Universities in Tanzania and South Africa. And they produced a set of open education resources that were based broadly on primary school curricular across a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. So a set of materials were produced, there was then an invitation put out, just an open invitation to any institution across Africa who wanted to become part of the Consortium and those who decided to opt in were then given the set of materials and asked to make them their own. So this is a very important part of the process so let’s take Nigeria for example. They would have received a set of the original materials and then they spent a long time working with Open University and other members in the consortium to really version those materials so that it suited the context of Nigeria. Both in terms of content, in terms of the curricular content, but also in terms of just the general presentation, so the use of Nigerian names, places, artifacts so that when a Nigerian teacher sees those materials, they instantly recognise the situation. As well as that content, also the context so materials recognise the reality of the situation that teachers in Africa face, they may have 70 children in the class, they may have 140, who knows. They probably have very few resources so that context is explicitly recognised and dealt with and teachers are given strategies to think about how they might approach those problems in a creative manner by using the local community, by using what resources already exist, by getting them to think about how they might access further resources. So those are some of the key elements of the TESSA materials. 

What’s been interesting in Zambia is the way in which TESSA in general has been used outside of formal education systems so in many countries the resources are channeled through the universities, teacher training institutes, etc. Now that’s also true in Zambia, but one of the features in Zambia is the way that the materials have been taken up in the community school sector, for example, and also as part of other large NGO, what can we say, projects. Now, with the literacy resources for example, there’s very good interaction between a USAID project, Read to Succeed that’s going on in various regions in Zambia and the TESSA materials. So the coordinators in particular regions have noticed this convergence and they are able to integrate materials from TESSA into the USAID project as well. So it’s a very good example of initiatives being able to work together and support each other instead of, as often happens, in a working almost side by side, if not in opposition. So just to give an example, in the TESSA materials teachers would be encouraged to talk to young children about the stories that they know and to get them to talk about those stories. They then might take that a step further by writing those stories down for the children and using them in a large book or displaying them on the wall and then using those as materials to support literacy development in the classroom with the other children. And children can share these with each other, teachers can share these with each other so very very simple methods which might seem obvious but which have not necessarily been used before. 

Another example might be the use of the community so getting community members to come in from the village to tell traditional stories to the children. Those stories might be recorded and written or recorded on the cellphones if teachers have cellphones and then used for further development in the classroom. So we’re talking at an African scale, the idea has been, and has been effective to varying degrees that institutions take up the resources and integrate them into their existing materials. Or, if they so wish, just use those materials as the basis of their course. So for example, open university Tanzania, they started a new distance programme for teacher education a few years ago, they basically took the TESSA materials whole sale, the Tanzanian version of them and used them as the basis for their course. The National Teaching Institute in Nigeria already had a course but they integrated a number of the TESSA materials into it. So once they’re integrated into those already existing courses, then they already have longevity, so that’s one way in which they are used and which the longevity and the sustainability is introduced because those institutions continue using them. 

There was a recent independent evaluation of the TESSA programme as a whole and that can be found on the TESSA website and one of the findings in that was that the materials are currently available to at least 300,000 teachers, or students in training across the continent. So that’s a very bald... take that as you will. The study also found that those materials were also having an impact in terms of the way that teachers approached their classroom practice and that there was evidence of teachers becoming more interactive, placing the children more at the centre of what was going on, being more imaginative in the way that they used resources and the community and so forth. 

I think some things that TESSA is very aware of and the first one is this notion of the idea of the challenge of access. The OER sits on a website, now a course, has been recognised from the very beginning, that very few individual teachers would have access to that, so from the very beginning it was planned that these materials should be easily printed off or downloaded onto a CD or onto an intranet and all those ways are being used. But there’s still challenges to all those ways, I mean even in the last decade in some major institutions in many of the countries internet access has barely improved to be honest, and my particular institution in Botswana has got worse. So there are still challenges to that. There’s the expense to the institution for example of printing off for 100,000 students, that’s quite a large expense. There have been interesting examples of colleges and individual teachers using mobile technology to access resources so a couple of years ago in Ghana for example, I saw student teachers using their smart phones to access materials to help them plan their lesson for the next day and they were able to access them that way. But the materials weren’t really written for small device use, so they were rather large in terms of, not on the website, but once you transfer them to a mobile device there’s a lot of text so there needs to be thinking about whether there needs to be further adaptation for that sort of version, so that’s an issue. 

The issue of should materials now be provided for early childhood education because at the minute they’re more geared to primary and yes, there’s an overlap at those early stages of course but there’s obviously a crying need for more materials at that early childhood stage. Once you start to talk about that, you get much more into the idea or challenge of language, which language should materials be in, currently TESSA materials are in four languages, English, French, Swahilian Arabic, but of course, quite rightly, there’s a lot more emphasis these days on using the local language and that’s true in Zambia for example just recently there’s been a move to provide the first four years of education in the local home language. So how far should TESSA go down that route of translating into those local languages, how far should it leave it to the local partners to go down and translate and how is quality controlled when that process happens? So that’s a big challenge. And funding enough of course is always a challenge. TESSA has been fortunate to attract major funding from a variety of sources but there’s always a challenge of keeping that going. 

Well I’m Gareth, Gareth Dart. I currently work at the University of Worcester here in the United Kingdom. Previous to that I was working in Botswana in Teacher Education for six or seven years, particularly in the areas of special and inclusive education but in Teacher Education more generally as well. Since coming back I’ve been involved in working for the TESSA Consortium that’s Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be their link person with Zambia which is one of the ten current countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that TESSA works with. 

Well look, the broad context is that I’m sure many people know that their Sub-Saharan Africa is hugely lacking in both the number of teachers that are needed to achieve education for and also the quality of teachers who currently exist and the quality of their practice. So it is into that gap that the TESSA open education resources seek to place themselves. So TESSA started off as a consortium between Open University here in the UK and a couple of African Universities in Tanzania and South Africa. And they produced a set of open education resources that were based broadly on primary school curricular across a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. So a set of materials were produced, there was then an invitation put out, just an open invitation to any institution across Africa who wanted to become part of the Consortium and those who decided to opt in were then given the set of materials and asked to make them their own. So this is a very important part of the process so let’s take Nigeria for example. They would have received a set of the original materials and then they spent a long time working with Open University and other members in the consortium to really version those materials so that it suited the context of Nigeria. Both in terms of content, in terms of the curricular content, but also in terms of just the general presentation, so the use of Nigerian names, places, artifacts so that when a Nigerian teacher sees those materials, they instantly recognise the situation. As well as that content, also the context so materials recognise the reality of the situation that teachers in Africa face, they may have 70 children in the class, they may have 140, who knows. They probably have very few resources so that context is explicitly recognised and dealt with and teachers are given strategies to think about how they might approach those problems in a creative manner by using the local community, by using what resources already exist, by getting them to think about how they might access further resources. So those are some of the key elements of the TESSA materials. 

What’s been interesting in Zambia is the way in which TESSA in general has been used outside of formal education systems so in many countries the resources are channeled through the universities, teacher training institutes, etc. Now that’s also true in Zambia, but one of the features in Zambia is the way that the materials have been taken up in the community school sector, for example, and also as part of other large NGO, what can we say, projects. Now, with the literacy resources for example, there’s very good interaction between a USAID project, Read to Succeed that’s going on in various regions in Zambia and the TESSA materials. So the coordinators in particular regions have noticed this convergence and they are able to integrate materials from TESSA into the USAID project as well. So it’s a very good example of initiatives being able to work together and support each other instead of, as often happens, in a working almost side by side, if not in opposition. So just to give an example, in the TESSA materials teachers would be encouraged to talk to young children about the stories that they know and to get them to talk about those stories. They then might take that a step further by writing those stories down for the children and using them in a large book or displaying them on the wall and then using those as materials to support literacy development in the classroom with the other children. And children can share these with each other, teachers can share these with each other so very very simple methods which might seem obvious but which have not necessarily been used before. 

Another example might be the use of the community so getting community members to come in from the village to tell traditional stories to the children. Those stories might be recorded and written or recorded on the cellphones if teachers have cellphones and then used for further development in the classroom. So we’re talking at an African scale, the idea has been, and has been effective to varying degrees that institutions take up the resources and integrate them into their existing materials. Or, if they so wish, just use those materials as the basis of their course. So for example, open university Tanzania, they started a new distance programme for teacher education a few years ago, they basically took the TESSA materials whole sale, the Tanzanian version of them and used them as the basis for their course. The National Teaching Institute in Nigeria already had a course but they integrated a number of the TESSA materials into it. So once they’re integrated into those already existing courses, then they already have longevity, so that’s one way in which they are used and which the longevity and the sustainability is introduced because those institutions continue using them. 

There was a recent independent evaluation of the TESSA programme as a whole and that can be found on the TESSA website and one of the findings in that was that the materials are currently available to at least 300,000 teachers, or students in training across the continent. So that’s a very bald... take that as you will. The study also found that those materials were also having an impact in terms of the way that teachers approached their classroom practice and that there was evidence of teachers becoming more interactive, placing the children more at the centre of what was going on, being more imaginative in the way that they used resources and the community and so forth. 

I think some things that TESSA is very aware of and the first one is this notion of the idea of the challenge of access. The OER sits on a website, now a course, has been recognised from the very beginning, that very few individual teachers would have access to that, so from the very beginning it was planned that these materials should be easily printed off or downloaded onto a CD or onto an intranet and all those ways are being used. But there’s still challenges to all those ways, I mean even in the last decade in some major institutions in many of the countries internet access has barely improved to be honest, and my particular institution in Botswana has got worse. So there are still challenges to that. There’s the expense to the institution for example of printing off for 100,000 students, that’s quite a large expense. There have been interesting examples of colleges and individual teachers using mobile technology to access resources so a couple of years ago in Ghana for example, I saw student teachers using their smart phones to access materials to help them plan their lesson for the next day and they were able to access them that way. But the materials weren’t really written for small device use, so they were rather large in terms of, not on the website, but once you transfer them to a mobile device there’s a lot of text so there needs to be thinking about whether there needs to be further adaptation for that sort of version, so that’s an issue. 

The issue of should materials now be provided for early childhood education because at the minute they’re more geared to primary and yes, there’s an overlap at those early stages of course but there’s obviously a crying need for more materials at that early childhood stage. Once you start to talk about that, you get much more into the idea or challenge of language, which language should materials be in, currently TESSA materials are in four languages, English, French, Swahilian Arabic, but of course, quite rightly, there’s a lot more emphasis these days on using the local language and that’s true in Zambia for example just recently there’s been a move to provide the first four years of education in the local home language. So how far should TESSA go down that route of translating into those local languages, how far should it leave it to the local partners to go down and translate and how is quality controlled when that process happens? So that’s a big challenge. And funding enough of course is always a challenge. TESSA has been fortunate to attract major funding from a variety of sources but there’s always a challenge of keeping that going. 

Date added: 05/12/2014

The TESSA Consortium: Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

Gareth Dart works for the University of Worcester (UK) and has also has a long standing involvement with the TESSA Consortium -Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. He is their link person with Zambia, one of the ten current countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that TESSA works with.  To help address the lack of teachers needed to achieve education in the region and the quality of teachers and their practice, TESSA developed a set of open education resources based broadly on primary school curricular across a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. Gareth outlines the ways these resources are used, shares the findings of a recent independent evaluation of the TESSA programme, and describes some of the challenges the TESSA programme faces, including internet access, the use of mobile technology, translating for local languages and funding. 

Views 21,952 Date added: 12/05/2014

The TESSA Consortium: Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

Well I’m Gareth, Gareth Dart. I currently work at the University of Worcester here in the United Kingdom. Previous to that I was working in Botswana in Teacher Education for six or seven years, particularly in the areas of special and inclusive education but in Teacher Education more generally as well. Since coming back I’ve been involved in working for the TESSA Consortium that’s Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be their link person with Zambia which is one of the ten current countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that TESSA works with. 

Well look, the broad context is that I’m sure many people know that their Sub-Saharan Africa is hugely lacking in both the number of teachers that are needed to achieve education for and also the quality of teachers who currently exist and the quality of their practice. So it is into that gap that the TESSA open education resources seek to place themselves. So TESSA started off as a consortium between Open University here in the UK and a couple of African Universities in Tanzania and South Africa. And they produced a set of open education resources that were based broadly on primary school curricular across a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. So a set of materials were produced, there was then an invitation put out, just an open invitation to any institution across Africa who wanted to become part of the Consortium and those who decided to opt in were then given the set of materials and asked to make them their own. So this is a very important part of the process so let’s take Nigeria for example. They would have received a set of the original materials and then they spent a long time working with Open University and other members in the consortium to really version those materials so that it suited the context of Nigeria. Both in terms of content, in terms of the curricular content, but also in terms of just the general presentation, so the use of Nigerian names, places, artifacts so that when a Nigerian teacher sees those materials, they instantly recognise the situation. As well as that content, also the context so materials recognise the reality of the situation that teachers in Africa face, they may have 70 children in the class, they may have 140, who knows. They probably have very few resources so that context is explicitly recognised and dealt with and teachers are given strategies to think about how they might approach those problems in a creative manner by using the local community, by using what resources already exist, by getting them to think about how they might access further resources. So those are some of the key elements of the TESSA materials. 

What’s been interesting in Zambia is the way in which TESSA in general has been used outside of formal education systems so in many countries the resources are channeled through the universities, teacher training institutes, etc. Now that’s also true in Zambia, but one of the features in Zambia is the way that the materials have been taken up in the community school sector, for example, and also as part of other large NGO, what can we say, projects. Now, with the literacy resources for example, there’s very good interaction between a USAID project, Read to Succeed that’s going on in various regions in Zambia and the TESSA materials. So the coordinators in particular regions have noticed this convergence and they are able to integrate materials from TESSA into the USAID project as well. So it’s a very good example of initiatives being able to work together and support each other instead of, as often happens, in a working almost side by side, if not in opposition. So just to give an example, in the TESSA materials teachers would be encouraged to talk to young children about the stories that they know and to get them to talk about those stories. They then might take that a step further by writing those stories down for the children and using them in a large book or displaying them on the wall and then using those as materials to support literacy development in the classroom with the other children. And children can share these with each other, teachers can share these with each other so very very simple methods which might seem obvious but which have not necessarily been used before. 

Another example might be the use of the community so getting community members to come in from the village to tell traditional stories to the children. Those stories might be recorded and written or recorded on the cellphones if teachers have cellphones and then used for further development in the classroom. So we’re talking at an African scale, the idea has been, and has been effective to varying degrees that institutions take up the resources and integrate them into their existing materials. Or, if they so wish, just use those materials as the basis of their course. So for example, open university Tanzania, they started a new distance programme for teacher education a few years ago, they basically took the TESSA materials whole sale, the Tanzanian version of them and used them as the basis for their course. The National Teaching Institute in Nigeria already had a course but they integrated a number of the TESSA materials into it. So once they’re integrated into those already existing courses, then they already have longevity, so that’s one way in which they are used and which the longevity and the sustainability is introduced because those institutions continue using them. 

There was a recent independent evaluation of the TESSA programme as a whole and that can be found on the TESSA website and one of the findings in that was that the materials are currently available to at least 300,000 teachers, or students in training across the continent. So that’s a very bald... take that as you will. The study also found that those materials were also having an impact in terms of the way that teachers approached their classroom practice and that there was evidence of teachers becoming more interactive, placing the children more at the centre of what was going on, being more imaginative in the way that they used resources and the community and so forth. 

I think some things that TESSA is very aware of and the first one is this notion of the idea of the challenge of access. The OER sits on a website, now a course, has been recognised from the very beginning, that very few individual teachers would have access to that, so from the very beginning it was planned that these materials should be easily printed off or downloaded onto a CD or onto an intranet and all those ways are being used. But there’s still challenges to all those ways, I mean even in the last decade in some major institutions in many of the countries internet access has barely improved to be honest, and my particular institution in Botswana has got worse. So there are still challenges to that. There’s the expense to the institution for example of printing off for 100,000 students, that’s quite a large expense. There have been interesting examples of colleges and individual teachers using mobile technology to access resources so a couple of years ago in Ghana for example, I saw student teachers using their smart phones to access materials to help them plan their lesson for the next day and they were able to access them that way. But the materials weren’t really written for small device use, so they were rather large in terms of, not on the website, but once you transfer them to a mobile device there’s a lot of text so there needs to be thinking about whether there needs to be further adaptation for that sort of version, so that’s an issue. 

The issue of should materials now be provided for early childhood education because at the minute they’re more geared to primary and yes, there’s an overlap at those early stages of course but there’s obviously a crying need for more materials at that early childhood stage. Once you start to talk about that, you get much more into the idea or challenge of language, which language should materials be in, currently TESSA materials are in four languages, English, French, Swahilian Arabic, but of course, quite rightly, there’s a lot more emphasis these days on using the local language and that’s true in Zambia for example just recently there’s been a move to provide the first four years of education in the local home language. So how far should TESSA go down that route of translating into those local languages, how far should it leave it to the local partners to go down and translate and how is quality controlled when that process happens? So that’s a big challenge. And funding enough of course is always a challenge. TESSA has been fortunate to attract major funding from a variety of sources but there’s always a challenge of keeping that going. 

Well I’m Gareth, Gareth Dart. I currently work at the University of Worcester here in the United Kingdom. Previous to that I was working in Botswana in Teacher Education for six or seven years, particularly in the areas of special and inclusive education but in Teacher Education more generally as well. Since coming back I’ve been involved in working for the TESSA Consortium that’s Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be their link person with Zambia which is one of the ten current countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that TESSA works with. 

Well look, the broad context is that I’m sure many people know that their Sub-Saharan Africa is hugely lacking in both the number of teachers that are needed to achieve education for and also the quality of teachers who currently exist and the quality of their practice. So it is into that gap that the TESSA open education resources seek to place themselves. So TESSA started off as a consortium between Open University here in the UK and a couple of African Universities in Tanzania and South Africa. And they produced a set of open education resources that were based broadly on primary school curricular across a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. So a set of materials were produced, there was then an invitation put out, just an open invitation to any institution across Africa who wanted to become part of the Consortium and those who decided to opt in were then given the set of materials and asked to make them their own. So this is a very important part of the process so let’s take Nigeria for example. They would have received a set of the original materials and then they spent a long time working with Open University and other members in the consortium to really version those materials so that it suited the context of Nigeria. Both in terms of content, in terms of the curricular content, but also in terms of just the general presentation, so the use of Nigerian names, places, artifacts so that when a Nigerian teacher sees those materials, they instantly recognise the situation. As well as that content, also the context so materials recognise the reality of the situation that teachers in Africa face, they may have 70 children in the class, they may have 140, who knows. They probably have very few resources so that context is explicitly recognised and dealt with and teachers are given strategies to think about how they might approach those problems in a creative manner by using the local community, by using what resources already exist, by getting them to think about how they might access further resources. So those are some of the key elements of the TESSA materials. 

What’s been interesting in Zambia is the way in which TESSA in general has been used outside of formal education systems so in many countries the resources are channeled through the universities, teacher training institutes, etc. Now that’s also true in Zambia, but one of the features in Zambia is the way that the materials have been taken up in the community school sector, for example, and also as part of other large NGO, what can we say, projects. Now, with the literacy resources for example, there’s very good interaction between a USAID project, Read to Succeed that’s going on in various regions in Zambia and the TESSA materials. So the coordinators in particular regions have noticed this convergence and they are able to integrate materials from TESSA into the USAID project as well. So it’s a very good example of initiatives being able to work together and support each other instead of, as often happens, in a working almost side by side, if not in opposition. So just to give an example, in the TESSA materials teachers would be encouraged to talk to young children about the stories that they know and to get them to talk about those stories. They then might take that a step further by writing those stories down for the children and using them in a large book or displaying them on the wall and then using those as materials to support literacy development in the classroom with the other children. And children can share these with each other, teachers can share these with each other so very very simple methods which might seem obvious but which have not necessarily been used before. 

Another example might be the use of the community so getting community members to come in from the village to tell traditional stories to the children. Those stories might be recorded and written or recorded on the cellphones if teachers have cellphones and then used for further development in the classroom. So we’re talking at an African scale, the idea has been, and has been effective to varying degrees that institutions take up the resources and integrate them into their existing materials. Or, if they so wish, just use those materials as the basis of their course. So for example, open university Tanzania, they started a new distance programme for teacher education a few years ago, they basically took the TESSA materials whole sale, the Tanzanian version of them and used them as the basis for their course. The National Teaching Institute in Nigeria already had a course but they integrated a number of the TESSA materials into it. So once they’re integrated into those already existing courses, then they already have longevity, so that’s one way in which they are used and which the longevity and the sustainability is introduced because those institutions continue using them. 

There was a recent independent evaluation of the TESSA programme as a whole and that can be found on the TESSA website and one of the findings in that was that the materials are currently available to at least 300,000 teachers, or students in training across the continent. So that’s a very bald... take that as you will. The study also found that those materials were also having an impact in terms of the way that teachers approached their classroom practice and that there was evidence of teachers becoming more interactive, placing the children more at the centre of what was going on, being more imaginative in the way that they used resources and the community and so forth. 

I think some things that TESSA is very aware of and the first one is this notion of the idea of the challenge of access. The OER sits on a website, now a course, has been recognised from the very beginning, that very few individual teachers would have access to that, so from the very beginning it was planned that these materials should be easily printed off or downloaded onto a CD or onto an intranet and all those ways are being used. But there’s still challenges to all those ways, I mean even in the last decade in some major institutions in many of the countries internet access has barely improved to be honest, and my particular institution in Botswana has got worse. So there are still challenges to that. There’s the expense to the institution for example of printing off for 100,000 students, that’s quite a large expense. There have been interesting examples of colleges and individual teachers using mobile technology to access resources so a couple of years ago in Ghana for example, I saw student teachers using their smart phones to access materials to help them plan their lesson for the next day and they were able to access them that way. But the materials weren’t really written for small device use, so they were rather large in terms of, not on the website, but once you transfer them to a mobile device there’s a lot of text so there needs to be thinking about whether there needs to be further adaptation for that sort of version, so that’s an issue. 

The issue of should materials now be provided for early childhood education because at the minute they’re more geared to primary and yes, there’s an overlap at those early stages of course but there’s obviously a crying need for more materials at that early childhood stage. Once you start to talk about that, you get much more into the idea or challenge of language, which language should materials be in, currently TESSA materials are in four languages, English, French, Swahilian Arabic, but of course, quite rightly, there’s a lot more emphasis these days on using the local language and that’s true in Zambia for example just recently there’s been a move to provide the first four years of education in the local home language. So how far should TESSA go down that route of translating into those local languages, how far should it leave it to the local partners to go down and translate and how is quality controlled when that process happens? So that’s a big challenge. And funding enough of course is always a challenge. TESSA has been fortunate to attract major funding from a variety of sources but there’s always a challenge of keeping that going. 

Date added: 12/05/2014

The TESSA Consortium: Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

Gareth Dart works for the University of Worcester (UK) and has also has a long standing involvement with the TESSA Consortium -Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. He is their link person with Zambia, one of the ten current countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that TESSA works with.  To help address the lack of teachers needed to achieve education in the region and the quality of teachers and their practice, TESSA developed a set of open education resources based broadly on primary school curricular across a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. Gareth outlines the ways these resources are used, shares the findings of a recent independent evaluation of the TESSA programme, and describes some of the challenges the TESSA programme faces, including internet access, the use of mobile technology, translating for local languages and funding. 

Views 21,952 Date added: 12/05/2014

The TESSA Consortium: Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

Well I’m Gareth, Gareth Dart. I currently work at the University of Worcester here in the United Kingdom. Previous to that I was working in Botswana in Teacher Education for six or seven years, particularly in the areas of special and inclusive education but in Teacher Education more generally as well. Since coming back I’ve been involved in working for the TESSA Consortium that’s Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be their link person with Zambia which is one of the ten current countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that TESSA works with. 

Well look, the broad context is that I’m sure many people know that their Sub-Saharan Africa is hugely lacking in both the number of teachers that are needed to achieve education for and also the quality of teachers who currently exist and the quality of their practice. So it is into that gap that the TESSA open education resources seek to place themselves. So TESSA started off as a consortium between Open University here in the UK and a couple of African Universities in Tanzania and South Africa. And they produced a set of open education resources that were based broadly on primary school curricular across a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. So a set of materials were produced, there was then an invitation put out, just an open invitation to any institution across Africa who wanted to become part of the Consortium and those who decided to opt in were then given the set of materials and asked to make them their own. So this is a very important part of the process so let’s take Nigeria for example. They would have received a set of the original materials and then they spent a long time working with Open University and other members in the consortium to really version those materials so that it suited the context of Nigeria. Both in terms of content, in terms of the curricular content, but also in terms of just the general presentation, so the use of Nigerian names, places, artifacts so that when a Nigerian teacher sees those materials, they instantly recognise the situation. As well as that content, also the context so materials recognise the reality of the situation that teachers in Africa face, they may have 70 children in the class, they may have 140, who knows. They probably have very few resources so that context is explicitly recognised and dealt with and teachers are given strategies to think about how they might approach those problems in a creative manner by using the local community, by using what resources already exist, by getting them to think about how they might access further resources. So those are some of the key elements of the TESSA materials. 

What’s been interesting in Zambia is the way in which TESSA in general has been used outside of formal education systems so in many countries the resources are channeled through the universities, teacher training institutes, etc. Now that’s also true in Zambia, but one of the features in Zambia is the way that the materials have been taken up in the community school sector, for example, and also as part of other large NGO, what can we say, projects. Now, with the literacy resources for example, there’s very good interaction between a USAID project, Read to Succeed that’s going on in various regions in Zambia and the TESSA materials. So the coordinators in particular regions have noticed this convergence and they are able to integrate materials from TESSA into the USAID project as well. So it’s a very good example of initiatives being able to work together and support each other instead of, as often happens, in a working almost side by side, if not in opposition. So just to give an example, in the TESSA materials teachers would be encouraged to talk to young children about the stories that they know and to get them to talk about those stories. They then might take that a step further by writing those stories down for the children and using them in a large book or displaying them on the wall and then using those as materials to support literacy development in the classroom with the other children. And children can share these with each other, teachers can share these with each other so very very simple methods which might seem obvious but which have not necessarily been used before. 

Another example might be the use of the community so getting community members to come in from the village to tell traditional stories to the children. Those stories might be recorded and written or recorded on the cellphones if teachers have cellphones and then used for further development in the classroom. So we’re talking at an African scale, the idea has been, and has been effective to varying degrees that institutions take up the resources and integrate them into their existing materials. Or, if they so wish, just use those materials as the basis of their course. So for example, open university Tanzania, they started a new distance programme for teacher education a few years ago, they basically took the TESSA materials whole sale, the Tanzanian version of them and used them as the basis for their course. The National Teaching Institute in Nigeria already had a course but they integrated a number of the TESSA materials into it. So once they’re integrated into those already existing courses, then they already have longevity, so that’s one way in which they are used and which the longevity and the sustainability is introduced because those institutions continue using them. 

There was a recent independent evaluation of the TESSA programme as a whole and that can be found on the TESSA website and one of the findings in that was that the materials are currently available to at least 300,000 teachers, or students in training across the continent. So that’s a very bald... take that as you will. The study also found that those materials were also having an impact in terms of the way that teachers approached their classroom practice and that there was evidence of teachers becoming more interactive, placing the children more at the centre of what was going on, being more imaginative in the way that they used resources and the community and so forth. 

I think some things that TESSA is very aware of and the first one is this notion of the idea of the challenge of access. The OER sits on a website, now a course, has been recognised from the very beginning, that very few individual teachers would have access to that, so from the very beginning it was planned that these materials should be easily printed off or downloaded onto a CD or onto an intranet and all those ways are being used. But there’s still challenges to all those ways, I mean even in the last decade in some major institutions in many of the countries internet access has barely improved to be honest, and my particular institution in Botswana has got worse. So there are still challenges to that. There’s the expense to the institution for example of printing off for 100,000 students, that’s quite a large expense. There have been interesting examples of colleges and individual teachers using mobile technology to access resources so a couple of years ago in Ghana for example, I saw student teachers using their smart phones to access materials to help them plan their lesson for the next day and they were able to access them that way. But the materials weren’t really written for small device use, so they were rather large in terms of, not on the website, but once you transfer them to a mobile device there’s a lot of text so there needs to be thinking about whether there needs to be further adaptation for that sort of version, so that’s an issue. 

The issue of should materials now be provided for early childhood education because at the minute they’re more geared to primary and yes, there’s an overlap at those early stages of course but there’s obviously a crying need for more materials at that early childhood stage. Once you start to talk about that, you get much more into the idea or challenge of language, which language should materials be in, currently TESSA materials are in four languages, English, French, Swahilian Arabic, but of course, quite rightly, there’s a lot more emphasis these days on using the local language and that’s true in Zambia for example just recently there’s been a move to provide the first four years of education in the local home language. So how far should TESSA go down that route of translating into those local languages, how far should it leave it to the local partners to go down and translate and how is quality controlled when that process happens? So that’s a big challenge. And funding enough of course is always a challenge. TESSA has been fortunate to attract major funding from a variety of sources but there’s always a challenge of keeping that going. 

Well I’m Gareth, Gareth Dart. I currently work at the University of Worcester here in the United Kingdom. Previous to that I was working in Botswana in Teacher Education for six or seven years, particularly in the areas of special and inclusive education but in Teacher Education more generally as well. Since coming back I’ve been involved in working for the TESSA Consortium that’s Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be their link person with Zambia which is one of the ten current countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that TESSA works with. 

Well look, the broad context is that I’m sure many people know that their Sub-Saharan Africa is hugely lacking in both the number of teachers that are needed to achieve education for and also the quality of teachers who currently exist and the quality of their practice. So it is into that gap that the TESSA open education resources seek to place themselves. So TESSA started off as a consortium between Open University here in the UK and a couple of African Universities in Tanzania and South Africa. And they produced a set of open education resources that were based broadly on primary school curricular across a number of Sub-Saharan African countries. So a set of materials were produced, there was then an invitation put out, just an open invitation to any institution across Africa who wanted to become part of the Consortium and those who decided to opt in were then given the set of materials and asked to make them their own. So this is a very important part of the process so let’s take Nigeria for example. They would have received a set of the original materials and then they spent a long time working with Open University and other members in the consortium to really version those materials so that it suited the context of Nigeria. Both in terms of content, in terms of the curricular content, but also in terms of just the general presentation, so the use of Nigerian names, places, artifacts so that when a Nigerian teacher sees those materials, they instantly recognise the situation. As well as that content, also the context so materials recognise the reality of the situation that teachers in Africa face, they may have 70 children in the class, they may have 140, who knows. They probably have very few resources so that context is explicitly recognised and dealt with and teachers are given strategies to think about how they might approach those problems in a creative manner by using the local community, by using what resources already exist, by getting them to think about how they might access further resources. So those are some of the key elements of the TESSA materials. 

What’s been interesting in Zambia is the way in which TESSA in general has been used outside of formal education systems so in many countries the resources are channeled through the universities, teacher training institutes, etc. Now that’s also true in Zambia, but one of the features in Zambia is the way that the materials have been taken up in the community school sector, for example, and also as part of other large NGO, what can we say, projects. Now, with the literacy resources for example, there’s very good interaction between a USAID project, Read to Succeed that’s going on in various regions in Zambia and the TESSA materials. So the coordinators in particular regions have noticed this convergence and they are able to integrate materials from TESSA into the USAID project as well. So it’s a very good example of initiatives being able to work together and support each other instead of, as often happens, in a working almost side by side, if not in opposition. So just to give an example, in the TESSA materials teachers would be encouraged to talk to young children about the stories that they know and to get them to talk about those stories. They then might take that a step further by writing those stories down for the children and using them in a large book or displaying them on the wall and then using those as materials to support literacy development in the classroom with the other children. And children can share these with each other, teachers can share these with each other so very very simple methods which might seem obvious but which have not necessarily been used before. 

Another example might be the use of the community so getting community members to come in from the village to tell traditional stories to the children. Those stories might be recorded and written or recorded on the cellphones if teachers have cellphones and then used for further development in the classroom. So we’re talking at an African scale, the idea has been, and has been effective to varying degrees that institutions take up the resources and integrate them into their existing materials. Or, if they so wish, just use those materials as the basis of their course. So for example, open university Tanzania, they started a new distance programme for teacher education a few years ago, they basically took the TESSA materials whole sale, the Tanzanian version of them and used them as the basis for their course. The National Teaching Institute in Nigeria already had a course but they integrated a number of the TESSA materials into it. So once they’re integrated into those already existing courses, then they already have longevity, so that’s one way in which they are used and which the longevity and the sustainability is introduced because those institutions continue using them. 

There was a recent independent evaluation of the TESSA programme as a whole and that can be found on the TESSA website and one of the findings in that was that the materials are currently available to at least 300,000 teachers, or students in training across the continent. So that’s a very bald... take that as you will. The study also found that those materials were also having an impact in terms of the way that teachers approached their classroom practice and that there was evidence of teachers becoming more interactive, placing the children more at the centre of what was going on, being more imaginative in the way that they used resources and the community and so forth. 

I think some things that TESSA is very aware of and the first one is this notion of the idea of the challenge of access. The OER sits on a website, now a course, has been recognised from the very beginning, that very few individual teachers would have access to that, so from the very beginning it was planned that these materials should be easily printed off or downloaded onto a CD or onto an intranet and all those ways are being used. But there’s still challenges to all those ways, I mean even in the last decade in some major institutions in many of the countries internet access has barely improved to be honest, and my particular institution in Botswana has got worse. So there are still challenges to that. There’s the expense to the institution for example of printing off for 100,000 students, that’s quite a large expense. There have been interesting examples of colleges and individual teachers using mobile technology to access resources so a couple of years ago in Ghana for example, I saw student teachers using their smart phones to access materials to help them plan their lesson for the next day and they were able to access them that way. But the materials weren’t really written for small device use, so they were rather large in terms of, not on the website, but once you transfer them to a mobile device there’s a lot of text so there needs to be thinking about whether there needs to be further adaptation for that sort of version, so that’s an issue. 

The issue of should materials now be provided for early childhood education because at the minute they’re more geared to primary and yes, there’s an overlap at those early stages of course but there’s obviously a crying need for more materials at that early childhood stage. Once you start to talk about that, you get much more into the idea or challenge of language, which language should materials be in, currently TESSA materials are in four languages, English, French, Swahilian Arabic, but of course, quite rightly, there’s a lot more emphasis these days on using the local language and that’s true in Zambia for example just recently there’s been a move to provide the first four years of education in the local home language. So how far should TESSA go down that route of translating into those local languages, how far should it leave it to the local partners to go down and translate and how is quality controlled when that process happens? So that’s a big challenge. And funding enough of course is always a challenge. TESSA has been fortunate to attract major funding from a variety of sources but there’s always a challenge of keeping that going. 

Date added: 12/05/2014

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