By Mwalimu-Mkoh Moses Blonkanjay Jackson (MsEd, EdM)
(Author, Education Engineer)
In my thinking thoughts I checked my memoire of the 2018 Education Summit recently held in Margibi and again became reawakened there are still inherent gaps in the administration of the Liberian education sector. During the Education Summit I was extremely embarrassed when one of the panelists who is a former Deputy Minister of Education told the audience and the whole wide world that some teachers in our classrooms are “untrainable”. From a professional standpoint, labeling teachers untrainable is similar to teachers labeling children as being “dull”. Unfortunately, the former honorable minister’s assertion was an eisegesis, more notional and less pedagogically synced.
While it would be easy to pardon common people for delivering eisegesis and propounding notional views of their constructs of teaching and learning, extending such pardons to people who Government designates tasks of educational management, such as senior education officials, is a complete blemish to the sector.
For the sake of the layman, an eisegesis, unlike an exegesis, is a process where one leads into study by reading a text on the basis of pre-conceived ideas of its meanings. In religion, eisegesis is what’s being done when someone interprets the Bible according to notions that were born outside of the Bible. In education, when people are interpreting teaching and learning outside of professional pedagogical constructs and basing their proponents on mere notion, that is eisegesis.
According to the honorable ex-education minister, results from a nationwide teachers’ assessment test administered show that some teachers were eligible for training while others could not be trained. This means they either do not possess IQ to be trained as teachers or could be among teachers who are not high school graduates but are teaching. Note, the minimum requirements to a teacher training program are high school and WAEC certificates.
You see, it could be debatable to say an individual is “untrainable” based on institutional and other standards including credentialing, misplacement or lack of interest on the one hand. On the other hand , it could be argued that every creation of God is capable of being trained. Whatever the argument, there is some danger in the branding of teachers as being “untrainable”
Blemish in Education
Blemish, for clarity sake, is a fault or a stain. For example, you wore a white shirt and your child spilled red oil on it. In education, one does not have to look further to see blemishes, especially where it has become apparent that our educational system is a “mess”. When people who are not trained to articulate views about teaching and learning but are instead assigned such a role, it becomes a blemish to the sector.
Danger in the “Untrainable Teacher “ Assertion
The point. If people who are education officials tell the world that some of their teachers are untrainable, we should be ready to painstakingly accept teachers who unprofessionally label our children as being “untrainable”. In many of our classrooms today, there are teachers who, based on their ineptitude label children as being dull in math, dull in science etc. After all, a teacher who labels students as “dull”, is just as unprofessional and inept as the education official who refers to teachers as being “untrainable”. In this teaching profession, we are not allowed to label people as being dull or untrainable.
MOE’s Peculiar Panacea to Untrained Teachers’ Situation
At the 2018 Summit, after the Education Official concluded his eisegesis of the untrainable teacher, he left the situation hanging without proffering a panacea, leaving several unanswered questions. “Now that you’ve labeled some teachers untrainable, in the wake of an acute shortage of trained teachers, what did the MOE do?” In some rural areas for example, my little town across the Majestic Cestos River in Rivercess, where teachers usually refuse to take assignments, what did you do to clean it of your so-called “untrainable teachers?” Mr. Researcher, are you aware that since the research, at least a year has elapsed and those “untrainable” teachers are still dishing out poison to our kinsmen and the MOE has not budged?
From where I sit, it is glaring that the MOE’s panacea to the “untrainable” teachers situation in Rivercess and other rural areas is to allow situations to take care of themselves as our children suffer.”
Each time the question regarding how we, as a nation should proceed to improve the quality of learning and teaching, my voice has always been consistent:
- People who understand education should be allowed to operate education; anything less than this will always lead to education officials proffering notional articulations about pedagogical constructs.
- The MOE should support the launching of a National In-service Teachers Training Institute (NITTI) in all of the 15 counties as proposed by the Diversified Educators Empowerment program (DEEP). Trainable and untrainable teachers would be trained right in their own communities without leaving their families and taking residences at RTTIs.
The whole conclusion of the matter is, there should be an Education and Teaching Regulatory Authority of Liberia (EDUCATRAL) as proposed by DEEP to serve as an auxiliary to the MOE to take up some of its technical tasks.
I am Simply Thinking Thoughts.
About the author
The Rivercess man, Moses Blonkanjay Jackson holds a Master of Education (Ed.M.) degree from Harvard University and a Master of Education with Secondary Mathematics (MsEd) concentration from Saint Joseph’s University. He is a Yale Mathematics Curriculum Fellow, and a University of Pennsylvania Physics Curriculum Fellow. The Rivercess man served the Government of Liberia for four years as Consultant and Assistant Minister and returned to private practice as consultant and researcher. The Rivercess man can be reached at 0886681315 / 0770206645, [email protected]