That the Ministry of Education will establish a Teacher Professional Support Division (TPSD) to ensure that every teacher in the country receives need-based professional development is good news. It is a most relevant re-organisation that should have come a long time ago.
Teachers walk out of profession all too soon not because they do not like the job. They do so because there is no space for growth. They are in the classrooms teaching, or rather regurgitating the same stuff, for years on end. Burn out is only to be expected.
This reform promises to allow teachers to adopt new methods and to undertake research in order to make teaching-learning process effective and to enhance quality education. They will get at least 80 hours space for professional development. To raise the quality of education, however, a lot more needs to change in the education system than just professional development of teachers.
However this re-organisation is done, it must succeed. Often, we launch a programme for change with great dreams and leave it at that. Education has suffered enough so. The bringers of change that proved detrimental to the system have so far only resolutely denied their involvement. It should not be so this time because change, a good change in the education system, is more than urgent today.
If this new initiative for teachers’ professional development fails, a lot more will fail. A drop in still water can cause ripples myriad. What is important is that we should be able to retain our teachers. The programme should succeed at doing this.
The division is also expected to look at licensing of teachers and accreditation and certification of INSET programmes. This is good, but we also need to look at it in a broader perspective. How this is regulated both in government and private schools needs to be made clear.
Attrition in the system will continue if teachers find someplace better to go, bask and prosper with their talent and skills. Professional development is not the only thing that teachers need desperately. We need to look at things like remuneration and other benefits that they deserve although we can never give them enough. What teachers give is priceless.
Teachers should have more avenues than extraordinary leave to upgrade their qualification, which hampers their career growth later. Existing problems in the system need to be looked at holistically to make teaching attractive. Only then will we be able to produce quality teachers and retain them in the system.
Our nation’s success hinges on the success and contentment of our teachers. Is professional development all we can give them? We hope that more durable reforms will come to our teachers.