Prof Atemajong Justina Njika, Inspector General of Education in the Ministry of Basic Education.
The Covid-19 pandemic imposed a new rhythm of teaching last year, including the respect of physical distance as much as possible. What were the effects of these changes?
The Covid-19 pandemic, a major World challenge, has pushed humanity to reorientate the manner of behaving and of handling activities in a bid to prevent its spread. Amongst the many preventive measures, for example regular washing of hands, wearing of face masks, etc, was that of physical social distancing. Considering the fact that some of our classes especially in the urban centers had more than 100 learners per class, the double-shift system became imperative and the maximum per class was brought down to 50 pupils. Pedagogically speaking, it is obvious that the fewer the number of learners in a class, the more the attention of the teachers will be on each learner thus better learning and teaching resulting to better performance. Physical distancing therefore enabled and reinforced performances. This is confirmed at the level of the learners’ performance in the 2021 end-of-course examination where the Ministry of Basic Education recorded the performance rate of 90% at the first school leaving certificate and 85% at the Certificat d’études primaires. At the level of the teachers, the reduction of the number of pupils per class encouraged better teaching and pupils interaction, hence the improved performance though some of them had to work double, morning and afternoon shifts. Again, teacher development was reinforced on aspects such as education in emergency situations and risk management. At the strategic level, there was the general overview of the school calendar and the readjustment of the time table. Also, in addition to face-to-face teaching, distance teaching and learning was introduced. Also, tele teaching, teaching by radio and on-line teaching which is still in process. It is certain that this shift system will be maintained especially as we are all aware that the pandemic is still around in its Delta version.
Since the half-time system requires greater availability of teachers, how will this be organized on the ground?
It is obvious that reinforcing the shift system will require many more actors consequently, the Ministry of Basic Education has a total of 6,000 newly recruited teachers who have been deployed following the rule of at least 3 teachers per school with the minimum enrolment of 100 pupils per school. In addition, the parents teachers associations and private school managers have always worked in close collaboration with the government. This rapport will also be strongly encouraged.
What arrangements are in place to ensure effective coverage of programmes in schools?
A battery of strategies has been put in place to ensure the effective completion of the 2021/2022 school programme. A series of capacity building trainings have been organized by Minedub with the technical support of financial and technical partners to train the pedagogic supervisors and Teachers on Teacher Training, Use of the New Curricula as well as some Cross Cutting/Emergent Themes to enhance classroom practices. Also, a distance learning Strategy has been put in place with the support of the technical and financial partners opening more opportunities of learning out of the classroom. In other words, there is the enrichment of the traditional face-to-face teaching mode with a new complementary mode or alternative depending on the case which is distance education. This new mode of teaching/learning is provided in four modalities which are: teaching/learning through the internet; teaching/learning through the radio; teaching/learning through the television; and teaching/learning through workbooks. This last modality is intended to enable learners in areas where there is no internet network, nor radio and television signals. The reinforcement of the monitoring of teachers’ activities and in-service training of the teaching personnel as well as their supervisors have been eearmarked.