L'Express (Port Louis)

3 June 2008

Mauritius: PRB 2008 - Why Teachers become Educators

analysis

Port Louis — As far as the education sector is concerned, the Pay Research Bureau has recommended major changes at all levels. The first one is the definition of teacher.

Primary teachers now belong to one grade. Future Oriental language teachers will teach general subjects.

Henceforth, they will be known as educators (primary) and educators (secondary). Why? Because the classroom teacher's role will change. "The ministry of Education focuses on driving the education system to be geared towards life-long learning and developing the ability to understand complex issues, the competence to think proactively and critically, and the aptitude for problem-solving and adapting to new technologies to create a knowledge-based society", says the Pay Research Bureau (PRB) in its report released last Friday.

Teachers will have to depart themselves from the role they have played up to now, that is promote rote learning instead of helping students to think by themselves and to take less private tuition. "Concentrating on learners in the classroom, making maximum use of the contact hours between teachers and pupils, elimination disruption of operation during school term time" are among the ministry's major objectives.

To promote efficiency and effectiveness, a strategic reengineering of the structure and reorientation of the human resource policies and practices have become a prerequisite. Major reform initiatives will have to be undertaken. However, the transition needs to be done smoothly to maintain a harmonious and industrious school environment.

At primary level, the PRB recommends that there should be only one grade of Educator to encompass both the teaching of general subjects and oriental languages. Future entrants joining to teach oriental languages will be required to teach general subjects, based on their qualifications. Teachers already in post will be allowed to join the new grade. For a smooth transition, the PRB recommends the setting up of a special committee chaired by the ministry of Civil Service to work out the modalities of this integration.

Restyling the secondary sector

Suttyhudeo Tengur, president of the Government Hindi Teachers' Union (GHTU), sees this as a good move. "It would bring more efficiency and polyvalence into the education sector." The grades of deputy head teacher and head teacher are also restyled into deputy headmaster and headmaster respectively. In future, the appointment to the grade of headmaster will be made by competence rather than seniority.

Schools must be led by the most suitable candidates"in as much as competencies required at these important positions in the management of schools are fundamentally different from those of the teaching function". Moreover, at present, the incumbents are often promoted a few years before retirement. The result is that most of them lack drive to shoulder their new responsibilities.

The National Literacy andNumeracy Strategy (NLNS) will now form part of the school curriculum for all standards and the normal school day will be increased by 25 minutes as from 1st July to include the teaching time for the NLNS. The interesting aspect for primary school teachers is that this additional responsibility is rewarded with an increase in salary. A teacher joining the profession with an Advanced Certificate in Education whose salary used to started at Rs 9 000 will now start at Rs 12 300.

For secondary schools, a major restyling exercise is on the way. Education Officers becomes Educators (secondary) and Deans become Senior Educators. As from 1st July 2010, an Educator's Licence, awarded by the Mauritius Institute of Education will be compulsory for appointment. Teachers will also have to stay longer hours in the classroom. "Educators" (secondary) would have to teach 30 periods per week, one or more subjects in line with their academic qualifications, indicates the PRB report. This provision is reflected in their remuneration package and takes effect as from 1st August.

The workload of the Educator (secondary) has also been reviewed. From now on, he will also be required, among others, to prepare scheme and weekly plan of work in respect of subjects taught, conduct examination and mark scripts, attend training courses during school holidays, carry out continuous assessment, conduct extension classes, organize and participate in extra curricular activities, assist the school administration in attending to problems concerning discipline and absenteeism. This last point will be a major concern for Senior Educators who will have to look into pedagogy and discipline.

In his submission to the PRB, the ministry regretted that secondary school teachers tend to devote minimal time to extra curricular activities "and in many instances they do not show much interest in attending to problems of indiscipline and students' absenteeism". Now, those issues have become an integral part of the Educator's workload. But the PRB has thought of compensation by reevaluating the salaries. Henceforth, the salary scale of an Educator (secondary) starts at Rs 14 200 to Rs 40 000. Before it was from Rs 10 600 to Rs 27 200.

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