Instructor quality is a major driver of students’ educational experiences, and often teachers play an important role in maintaining satisfactory retention rates. Although a February 2017 World Bank report highlighted teacher training as an area of comparative weakness in Côte d’Ivoire, the government is working diligently to address it. One suggestion comes from Francis Ndem, an education specialist and one of the article’s authors. “One of the ways to improve the quality and effectiveness of public expenditure would be to introduce performance-based pay for Ivorian teachers, who are paid higher wages than their colleagues in other African countries. Teacher training and assessment programmes could be set up to facilitate the process,” he said in the report.
Salaries & Recruitment
With 88% of government education spend in 2017 going towards daily operational costs, and 74% of these funds being for instructor salaries, the Sector Plan for Education 2016-25 (Plan Sectoriel de l’Education, PSE) notes how relatively little room this leaves for other expenses. The high proportion of funds devoted to teacher salaries is all the more worrying in light of the PSE’s observation that the current number of teachers is insufficient, particularly for science subjects at the secondary level.
The government is currently rolling out plans to lower the student-to-teacher ratio while simultaneously increasing enrolment levels – a combination of efforts that further necessitates reforms to both teacher recruitment and pay strategies. Under the PSE, the government is aiming to recruit an average of 6300 primary school teachers annually between 2017 and 2025, while also hiring 750 secondary school teachers per year over the same period.
While the government is pursuing these staffing targets, the teachers themselves are being placed at the forefront of efforts to improve students’ outcomes. “An increased emphasis is being placed on the quality of teachers. We are investing in better training for teachers, professional development and the maintenance of high standards,” Kabran Assoumou, Cabinet director at the Ministry of National Education, Technical and Vocational Training (Ministère de l’Education Nationale, de l’ Enseignement Technique et de la Formation Professionnelle), told OBG. “We now offer virtual training programmes that can be undertaken remotely via the internet. We also have 16 training centres for teachers across the country where we recruit every year.”
The MENETFP is also seeking to increase the length of time required to complete teacher training from two years to three. “Currently, the programme comprises one year of training in a centre and another spent in a school,” Assoumou said. “We want to change this so that it is two years at the centre and one on the ground. Inspectors are also going to ensure the maintenance of high educational standards for teachers.”
Beyond instructor expertise, managing the response to any change in teacher workload or salaries has been challenging. The 2016/17 school year saw the MENETFP implement a number of measures to increase the amount of time pupils spend in the classroom, including making what had been optional attendance on Wednesday mornings compulsory, removing a holiday in February and shortening the Easter break. These measures led to strikes and protests from teachers and their unions.
According to Laurent Cortese, project officer for education at the French Development Agency, the government’s decision to stick with these measures despite their unpopularity was a vital step towards improving education standards. “The minister made a critical decision. Effective learning time – the time when students are in the classroom with a teacher – is not sufficient to cover what is planned in the designated curriculum. Changes like making Wednesday morning compulsory increase the effective learning time and improve learning outcomes,” he told OBG.
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