A teacher at Isithsaba Junior Primary school, South Africa
The Open University has been awarded £400,000 by the Scottish Government to further develop its successful teacher education programme for use in Malawi.
The funding will support much-needed schools-based teacher training for women in isolated and rural areas of Malawi through The Open University’s Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) programme. The award is made as Scotland and Malawi celebrate the fifth anniversary of the signing of a Co-operation Agreement between their Governments (on 3 November).
Based on the Open University’s distance-learning model, TESSA has already helped to train over 400,000 teachers in 12 African countries.
The Scottish Government has awarded the funding over three years from the International Development Fund. This support will enable 1000 scholarships for the TESSA project to be made available to women who aspire to become primary school teachers in their local community. Individuals, aged 18-40, who have completed secondary education but do not have the grades required for entry into teacher education programmes will be able to apply. The first scholarship holders will start training in April 2011.
TESSA works with 18 partner universities in Africa to develop a comprehensive set of freely-available teacher training modules. It enables teachers to train while remaining in their local communities, also providing continual training opportunities to develop their practice, leading to more effective learning experiences for pupils.
Dr James Miller, Director of The Open University in Scotland, said:
“This is a tremendous opportunity for The Open University to play a significant role in supporting the Scottish Government's International Development Policy and its particular commitment to Malawi.
“The Open University’s TESSA programme is a direct response to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal to achieve universal primary education by 2015. To achieve this goal, an extra four million teachers are needed.
“In the five years since it was created, TESSA has made a remarkable and enormous difference to education across 12 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa by providing training materials to over 400,000 teachers. But the project reaches even further as teachers anywhere in the world can access the resources freely via the internet.
“Opening access to education is The Open University’s mission and we’re delighted that our expertise and the proven success of TESSA can be extended to benefit even more teachers, potential teachers and children.”
The Scottish Government’s External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop said:
“The long and enduring relationship between Scotland and the people of Malawi goes from strength to strength.
“Since 2005, more than £13 million has been invested into 207 diverse and sustainable projects that are making a real difference to improving peoples’ lives in Malawi.
“I pay tribute to former First Minister Jack McConnell and the previous Scottish Executive for its commitment to establishing an International Development Fund and a formal relationship with Malawi, both of which this administration has built on. Cross-party consensus on these issues was forged five years ago and prevails today.
“This project exemplifies the distinctive approach Scotland has taken to our engagement with Malawi. Our support is very clearly ‘development’, not ‘aid’. The TESSA programme is enabling Malawians to gain new skills so they and their communities can work themselves out of poverty.
“With no quick solutions to the many challenges facing Malawi, the Scottish Government’s commitment is long-term. We have delivered on our pledge to double the international development budget, with a minimum of £3 million ringfenced for Malawi each year.
“Research shows that our development funding is having a real and positive impact. As a responsible outward-looking nation, Scotland will continue to play a role in alleviating poverty, and contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”
The Open University’s TESSA programme is a direct response to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal target to achieve universal primary education by 2015. To achieve this goal, an extra four million teachers are needed. TESSA won a Queens Anniversary Prize in 2009 for exceptional contribution by an institution in the higher education sector to the wider community. In addition to teacher-training, the success of TESSA provided the basis for the OU to build on the project and adapt the model to provide much-needed training to healthcare support workers in Ethiopia (HEAT – Health Education and Training in Africa).