4.5 Discuss the aspects of a good teacher
Effective Teacher Education in Developing Nations
Globally, the key role played by the teacher in education cannot be under estimated however, there is little in regard to policy, or in the implementation of effective teacher training programmes and placement. Teacher training models are largely generated by policy decisions made in respect to selection, training, certification and whether the national system places emphasis on quality or quantity of teacher to be produced.(Tambo:1995)
Special Needs Education(SNE) teacher training programmes have received even far less attention than regular teacher training programmes. This is even despite the knowledge that working with children with special education needs (SEN) is very challenging and demanding, and the teacher has to be adequately prepared to handle these children. With the global trend in the education of SEN children being integration, there is an even greater need to train all teachers in SNE so as to handle all children in their classrooms. This would be the ideal situation but what is the state of affairs?
In Cameroon there in only one SNE teacher training institution, the Special Education Needs Teacher Training Institution,, located in Bamenda, in the North West Province. This institution was opened in February 2007, a very recent venture. It aims at providing education to teacher trainees, improve their understanding of SEN children, and in so doing, “provide opportunities for a differently abled children”(SENTTI:2007) This center however, lacks most of the basic facilities such as finances and teachers and relies heavily on the goodwill of volunteer teachers from the British Volunteer Service Overseas Organization. It also has to develop its own teacher training curriculum since it is almost pioneering in an area that has not received any prior attention.
In Cameroon the general state of education is appalling. Elementary and Secondary education is plagued with serious quality teaching and quantity learning problems. This is because of the high levels of poverty where neither the parents nor the government can afford to provide enough learning resources. There is also a high rate of unemployment of school products, hence parental apathy to spend the scarce finances on education without immediate returns. In addition to this, the lack of resources affects quality in teaching in that textbooks are few, unavailable and often uncontextualized as most of them are foreign, and not suitable to the Cameroonian situation. Hence, many leave school without having mastered the basic literacy and social skills. This in return has an impact on the quality of teachers as many of them lack communication skills, professional skills social skills and study and reading skills since they had not acquired them in school and can therefore not pass them to their pupils, a cyclic process of under- education.
These problems emanating from the high poverty rates further compound the problems for SNE which requires a lot more modified and specialized instructional material and learning resources, adapted infrastructure and highly trained personnel. Consequently the state of SNE is abysmal, riddled with both the wide-ranging problems affecting education generally and others specific to SNE, with most staff in these schools is not being qualified to teach students with SENs, high rate of staff turnover due to irregular salaries, and very crowded classrooms. The government does not fund special needs schools and they have to rely on tuition fees paid by parents to cover their operating costs. But, as in many developing countries, most parents do not pay fees for children with disabilities as they do not see the value of spending their meager resources where they are unlikely to reap immediate benefits. It is only as recent, as 2006 that the government made proposal to make plans to pilot funding programmes for one special needs school in each of the 10 provinces.