In a centralised state such as Vietnam it is often helpful to see the benefits of centralisation. When it was realised that too many motorcyclists were being killed or severely injured on the roads in Vietnam,the government instituted a law to mandate all motorcyclists to wear helmets.
In Hanoi, almost overnight,everyone was wearing one. So centralisation can have its benefits.
This approach may not work with training teachers,though. I am working in education and find that the nearer the ‘trainee’ is to their workplace,the more likely they are to implement what they have been trained. So decentralisation to the district and more importantly to the school is a challenge as well as an opportunity.
Although in Vietnam, teacher training is centralised, the PEDC project decided to work at the local level and provide training for trainers for ‘school based training’. What does this mean in practice?
Normally the Ministry of Education and Training will provide training during the long break (July/August). The problem with this is that there is no organised follow up ,unless a head teacher makes it his/her duty to observe the application of training in the classroom. This approach, although common, is obviously not learner -centred. The teacher is expected to receive much ‘content’ , which is often subject based, and then after the training and their holiday, attempt to apply all of the knowledge and concepts, on their own, in their classroom. This model is doomed in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.
With school based training focused on active learning in the classroom the first question to ask is:
If we want teachers to manage an effective and stimulating classroom where all students participate, learn new skills and knowledge and achieve well – how do we train the teachers?
Answer: they have to be trained in an effective and stimulating training room where all participate, learn relevant new skills and knowledge, evaluate themselves and achieve, as well as develop new attitudes towards their teaching and the students.
As imagined, training has to be fully participative and challenging (including group problem solving) and learning is through participation, reflection and analysis.
Participants have to take some responsibility for their learning environment as well as the training process and are organised into workshop committees , such as public relations, games and singing, materials and welfare as well as evaluation.
As emotions are a key element in learning it is important to develop the psycho-social environment as much as the physical environment. Apart from committees the facilitators try to
•Increase participation and involvement (e.g. creative group work tasks)
•Increase use of effective pair and group work through relevant activities (appropriate to their working context).
• ‘help and support’ participants to learn
•Encourage good workshop relationships – by the use of games, singing etc.
Effective training can include creative and practical problem solving activities focusing on group cooperation, lesson planning,making teaching aids and the needs of students.
To summarise, the benefits of school based training:
1. Pedagogically effective – closer to the real school situation. Professional development is continuous based on action research and cooperative learning.
2. Administratively effective – more flexible for planning and organizing. Less disruptive of classes
3. Cost effective – less travel time and accommodation costs