Adoption of Student-centred Learning in Somalia: A case for teacher’s capacity and beliefs

Somalia has witnessed protracted conflicts and natural disasters spanning decades. This has fractured the education system in the country, however, education sector in Somalia has seen steady growth in terms of access over the last decade. Quality of education in the country has not progressed in tandem with access indicators. Countrywide literacy assessment shows 15% to 20% of fourth grade learners in the country are unable to recognise or read single words. One of the priority objectives of the government, as espoused in the Education Sector Strategic Plan, is to improving learning outcomes for children.

The most important resource to the realization of better learning outcomes among children is their teachers and the method used by teachers in delivering content to their students. Teachers are encouraged to move away from ‘learning by rote’ approach, to applying teaching and learning methods that encourage learners to be inquisitive and participative in their own learning. Adoption of this student-centred learning (SCL) method has been proven to benefit not only realizing learning outcomes, but also helping students to negotiate, collaborate, accept diversity and develop peer positive relationship beyond their classroom.

In Somalia, it is often claimed that teachers in the country apply rote and teacher-centred teaching and learning method, with students as passive recipients. However, evidence on this was scanty and anecdotal. This study aimed at finding out the level of application of SCL and establish correlates of applying the SCL teaching approach in schools in the country. On a cross-sectional view, 95 schools were involved in this study, and the schools were equally distributed across three SCI operational areas, that is, Somaliland, Puntland and South Central Somalia. Within an operational area, the schools were randomly sampled to get fair representation of schools in an operational area. In schools sampled, a head teacher and four other teachers chosen randomly were surveyed. In total, the survey included 95 head teachers and 373 teachers from the 95 sampled schools. Data were obtained through use of questionnaires administered through face-to-face interviews on a one-to-one basis. To assess level of SCL adopted, the survey instrument presented vignettes that described fictional teaching scenarios to determine the way teachers make decisions on how to teach.

Results showed that there was minimal active participation of students in their own learning, only up to a third of the possible score. SCL was fairly applied in actual teaching and learning but poorly in learner assessment. Assessment carried out was by teachers mostly meant to rank students and not offer a feedback on what students had learnt. Well-resourced schools in terms of teacher-student ratio, class sizes, and inputs for practical learning among others did not offer significant advantage in advancing students’ active participation in their own learning. Furthermore, teacher training college played very minimal role in SCL adoption, except when the training included elements on improving student’s participation in their own learning. The most significant factor in adoption of SCL arose from challenging teacher’s beliefs about SCL. Specifically, teachers who had positive attitude towards SCL and deemed themselves to have capacity to undertake SCL were 12 to 15 percentage points more likely to make their teaching more student-centred. SCI and other education sector partners therefore should strive to challenge common held beliefs about SCL by teachers in addition to normal teacher capacity building programs on SCL.

Published 2018-12-05

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