This is not surprising, given that 71% of primary-school teachers only have a high-school education, and many have no formal qualifications. Teachers therefore lack knowledge in important areas of teaching practice, for example, when reading books to the class, some teachers find it difficult to pronounce particular words, causing the students to also pronounce these words incorrectly. Some teachers also lack the ability to identify and assist students who may experience problems socially.
The ERFA/Mary Mackillop Today (MMT) partner Ermera Tetun Literacy & Teacher Training Program addresses this issue by providing comprehensive training for teachers so they can increase their skills and knowledge in areas such as teaching methodology, creative classroom set-up, and child development, and provide quality education in the classroom for their students. For example, to upskill teachers in the area of teaching methodology, Project Coordinator Ivone Ximenes explains: “We provided the teachers with feedback from our observation, and actively demonstrated how to read books to the students. We are also focused on strengthening the correct way to pronounce words. To respond to the issue of child development, Ivone explains:
“We provided feedback to the teachers, along with ongoing support and reminding teachers to pay greater attention to the students who are less socially capable in the classroom setting. We encourage the teachers to talk with the student’s parents regarding each students’ specific character.”
In the last fiscal year, the program’s Literacy team facilitated training in these topics for 36 teachers in Railaco, Ermera. During the monitoring of the teachers in the classroom, they were happy to discover that these teachers have been implementing the various lessons that they learnt in the training delivered by MMT staff, putting their new skills into practice in their classrooms. Many teachers expressed to the trainers that they have increased their knowledge regarding teaching practice and methodology, and that they are also increasing their understanding of child protection and child safeguarding. They are also using MMT Tetun resources in the classroom, and following the national curriculum.
One of the teacher’s, Belarminu Siqueira Costa said “Before the MMT Training, I had a minimal knowledge regarding teaching methodology. But when I participated in the Literacy training sessions, I have gained much knowledge how to properly teach literacy, and look out for my students in the class activities”. Through increasing the skills and knowledge of these teachers, hundreds of children in the Railaco area are now receiving quality education in safe and inclusive classroom environments, giving them the best possible start to their education.
ERFA is delighted to be partnering with MMT on this program and to be carrying on the 20 year legacy of Edmund Rice mission in Timor Leste.