by Mark Barnes

Education challenges

Implementing the solution (on time) is a different matter entirely

Educate and train not only students, but teachers as well
Education challenges

It is thought that intense, curriculum-specific teacher education training could pose a possible solution to the issue of poorly skilled teachers. The question is, when will this take place, where and at what level?

A suggestion is that it should take place at night. Find teachers to teach the teachers. If they won’t come, then make them – and make it an educational national service. Mobilise the whole population and, ultimately, make us all responsible. If you teach any recognised course, you get points, such as voyager miles, to be used to pay for things or reduce your tax.

The use of technology in education and training has become an essential aspect in every country. Those who can afford to do so, could look into giving every teacher a free iPad filled with downloads of best lessons. They will have to complete a set number of modules a week to keep it.

We can all agree that in order to set any solution in motion, we need to get the economics right. Pay them more until you attract the best minds away from other professions (while I’m at it, don’t forget the police and health practitioners).

Pay them to attract them, pay them to keep them as they advance – more money for specific maths and science and language modules than for general 'life orientation skills'. Provide outcomes-based bonuses. For every pupil who achieves a distinction at every level in education, should result in some cash in someone’s bank account (and a refund to the student). We can’t spend too much of our tax on education.

But the real answer lies in social media. SMS "tonight’s solution" and "Mathematics" to 34007 to get your kid’s homework answers; SMSes are free, paid for by your government, working together for a better life! (Yes, the technology is already there to do this.) It goes beyond SMSes and it goes beyond parents: today’s lessons could be uploaded on YouTube every night. We all spend too much time on our cellphones, particularly our kids – but that’s okay if we’re all either learning or teaching. What about Twitter, Facebook? All paid for by our taxes.

We can do it in as many languages as you like. Hell, get Justin Bieber to sing today’s maths lesson if that’s what it takes.

I know this may sound like an educational dictatorship, but if that’s what it takes, I’m for it. I know this will cost a fortune, but much less than the cost of failure, for sure.

Make no mistake, there’s already a lot being done: changing administrators and accounting officers to instructional leaders, assessment feedback loops that show that the reason you struggle with multiplication is in part due to the fact that you struggle with reading.

Picking up the pace of learning through scripted lesson plans (the Gauteng Primary Language and Mathematics Strategy programme already assists 832 schools and 600 000 pupils), self-critical teacher testing – really, they’re onto it, but they can’t do it alone.

We should all stop whining and blaming the past. We should all muck in and help, actually and attitudinally, with time, money or whatever you can bring to the party.

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