Addressing the deficit of teachers in developing countries is crucial to providing access to quality education. Rushing a student through teacher training will only aggravate the quality of education others hope to receive and will add little value to wider social improvement. So how does one meet the goal of universal primary education where the ratio of teacher to learners is 1:50? And how does one do so without compromising on the quality of teaching?
The answers require innovative thinking and local support, but they do exist and they are being applied widely in western, developed countries. Generation Yes is a US based project where students are teaching other students with the support of new communication technology. Breakthrough Collaborative is a similar project where older students are supporting younger learners from less affluent backgrounds. Could this model work in Africa? There is evidence to show that it could.
Help2Read works with adult volunteers who visit schools to support literacy development and promote to reading. The initiative is bearing fruit, but more needs to be done in order to address the prevalent deficit of quality education. One suggestion is to allow Grade 11 or 12 students to develop their teaching skills. By engaging secondary pupils to support primary student development one simultaneously addresses the issue of skills development and releasing some of the pressure experienced by teachers in over crowded classrooms.
Providing young (secondary) learners with basic teaching skills, prepares them for the the world of work and increases their opportunities of being excellent teachers. In the face of rising youth unemployment in Africa, it seems that one solution remains under valued and under scale. Learners could be teachers and, if encouraged to develop their skills early enough, they could be excellent educators too.