In Unit 2 we referred briefly to
the matter of provision of training and professional development
for heads in Africa and tried to reflect on the levels of provision
as well as the forms that this took.
In this unit we will discuss in greater detail the concepts,
approaches and practices that are common to training and professional
development programmes on the continent. It is vital that
you and all concerned with education, continue to search for
new avenues and sources of enrichment as you work towards
improving the quality of education in your school. When you
have identified ideas on training and professional development
of benefit to you and your school, we hope that you will take
steps to apply them.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
distinguish between professional development and training
distinguish between top-down and self-directed approaches
describe the characteristics of top-down and self-directed
apply top-down and self-directed approaches where appropriate
relate these approaches to all seven modules.
Training and professional development
Your school has to survive in and adapt to constantly changing
educational, cultural, political and economic environments.
Your survival is achieved by the degree to which you possess
the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to meet the
challenges posed by these changing environments. Training
and professional development are the means by which you can
acquire the requisite skills and attitudes. It is important
to make a distinction between the two.
What do you see as the difference between training and professional
This is an organised procedure by which people acquire knowledge
or skills for a definite purpose.
Training tends to:
assume a deficiency in the trainee
presuppose a set of appropriate ideas, skills and attitudes
that need developing in the trainee
bring about conformity
reduce the trainee's range of alternatives
be formal, bureaucratic, and centralised.
This is a continuous process of growth for personnel in a
system. In a school setting, for example, professional development
is not something that the school system does to you but something
that you do for yourself in order to be more competent and
Professional development tends to:
assume people want to develop on the job
increase the range of alternatives available.
There is a place for both professional development and training
provided due attention is given to their strengths and weaknesses
and needs are clearly established. Training is necessary and
seems best matched to formal intervention strategies. Professional
development, however, should receive the major focus and seems
best matched to informal intervention strategies.
We will now look closely at the features of both.
Identify some of the common training approaches you have experienced.
Your list may have included:
These are indeed common and are often associated with top-down
Directed learning: top-down approaches
The next few pages will examine the characteristics of various
strategies associated with these approaches and enable you
to compare them with strategies that characterise self-directed
The 'top-down' mode of training may be defined as an approach
initiated and controlled from above, where the participant
has very little say in what he/she learns or how he/she learns
it. Educational managers understand that pre-service training
does not adequately prepare teachers and heads for all the
eventualities in their teaching career, hence the need for
continuous in-service training and staff development. They
have, however, found themselves predominantly using this approach
to training, because resources are very limited.
In this section, let us look at some examples of training
methods that use a 'top-down' approach. You should critically
examine each method as it relates to your situation and decide
how its effectiveness could be improved.
The provision of national workshops is one approach to training
which has been widely used in Africa. The training is designed
to equip school heads with the basic knowledge and skills
necessary to enable them to manage their schools efficiently
and effectively under the prevailing conditions, using the
available financial resources. With this in mind, Ministries
of Education have mounted numerous headteacher training workshops
in an attempt to improve the quality of education delivery.
Convenors or organisers of the workshops generally determine
the packages for the training.
The training needs of the participants are determined at
the top, by the central ministry. Venues, at times removed
from school situations, are chosen by the trainers who usually
conduct the workshop in conditions far removed from those
obtaining in schools. As a result, the impact or effectiveness
of this approach in meeting the needs and concerns of heads
may be limited.
Consider a workshop you have attended in your capacity as
Look at the programme you went through.
(1) How far was it able to address the issues which were most
relevant to your own school situation?
(2) What do you consider to be the weaknesses, inherent in
the workshop approach to training, which it showed up?
How does your list compare with the following features, frequently
cited as weaknesses of the directed-learning approach of workshops?
Wrong assumptions are likely to be made in a top-down
assessment of needs unless heads are involved.
The approach is often associated with the following
-course material is not graded for sequential development
-off-the-job training may not be ideal for skills development
-presentations are often didactic in approach
-interaction is limited
-compulsory attendance may be demotivating
-no regular follow-up is carried out
-no impact assessment mechanism exists
-specific and desirable skills are not developed
-workshops tend to emphasise acquisition of knowledge.
The Head of Pleasantways School received an invitation to
attend a district heads of schools workshop on supervision
of teachers. Meanwhile, he has had courses on supervision
during the Bachelor of Education Distance Education Programme
in which he is enrolled.
He attended the workshop but dozed during some of the lectures.
Every now and then he was heard complaining how busy he was
and how he wished he had stayed away from the workshop.
(1) Why do you think the Head of Pleasantways behaved in the
way he did in the workshop?
(2) What problems do you associate with such directed-learning
In your answer to Question 1 you may have stated that:
there was no selection among the target group
this head had already been through the material.
In your answer to Question 2 you may have mentioned that:
the target group was not involved in identifying the
directed learning is prescriptive
courses are generally not developmental
courses often lack focus and continuity.
These weaknesses limit the usefulness of this approach to
training and staff development.
You have now identified some limitations inherent in the workshop
approach to training.
What suggestions do you have to improve the effectiveness
of this approach?
Improvements you have mentioned might include:
the need for thorough planning
presentations that use a participative approach and
allow for interaction
the use of questionnaires to determine the package
for workshop programmes
the need for programmes that emphasise the development
of skills relevant to the head's situation and not just the
acquisition of knowledge
the need for consultation with heads during needs identification
training geared to adult needs
more use of group dynamics
opportunities for self-development or peer support.
The lecture method is another approach traditionally used
for training. It focuses attention on what is taught instead
of on the learner. Teachers explain concepts in a topic while
the students sit and listen during a lecture.
It is a teacher-centred method.
The heads of schools in a district were invited for a one-day
workshop on a number of subjects including 'Financial Management'
and 'How to Conduct Meetings'. The Education Officer responsible
for the district read from the notes that he had prepared
beforehand. At the end of his lectures participants were invited
to make comments.
What do you see as the advantages and limitations of the lecture
Your responses probably included the following advantages
of the lecture method:
presents relevant information in a structured way
it is cheap and easy to use, as far as resources are
it saves time especially where a new topic is to be
presented to a large group of students.
Among the disadvantages of the lecture method you might have
encourages students' over-dependence on the teacher
limits creativity in students
ignores individual differences among students
confuses and bores students, when poorly structured
Activity 3.6 shows how you could use the lecture method in
(1) Assign one of your group members to read the unit on decision-making
and problem-solving in Module
2, Unit 7, in preparation fora group lecture.
(2) Ask the member to explain the following points from Activity
(Module 2, page 53)
to the group:
-the extent to which members of his/her staff take part in
decision-making in the various areas
-what he/she believes can adversely affect decision-making
-what, in his/her view, is good decision-making practice.
Compare this lecture with the answers in Module
2, Unit 7, pages 53 and 54.
Suggest ways in which the lecture method can be improved so
that group members are more actively involved in their own
You will have probably suggested that lectures should be accompanied
question and answer sessions
small group discussion
audio-visual aids such as pictures, transparencies
In May 1993 the Schools Division of the Ministry of Education
of Infanta launched a national training programme under the
banner 'Improving Schools, the Challenge Before Us All'. The
Division had decided to promote its efforts to improve the
quality of education in the country through a nationwide training
programme that would reach all school heads. It would be based
on local and in-school initiatives, using training materials
developed for the purpose. They started by tackling the basic
(a) adult training approaches
(b) group dynamics
(c) self-development and peer support.
Officers from each region were invited for training by national
trainers and specialists who would prepare them to train their
counterparts at regional and district levels. The personnel
trained at regional and district levels thereafter fanned
out into their school circuits to train school heads. Lastly,
the heads as the main targets of the whole programme were
expected to set up school cluster groups through which they
would benefit from the self-directed training programme.
(1) What needs was the ministry wanting to address?
(2) Identify and state the number of training levels which
in this programme.
(3) What approach was used in this mode of training?
In your answer to Question 1, you probably indicated the following
improvements to the quality of education
improvements in the quality of school management
better use of resources -tapping local initiatives.
In your answer to Question 2, you may have identified the
following levels of participation in the programme:
officers at the national level
officers at regional level
officers at district level
heads in their schools or clusters.
Finally, in reply to Question 3, you probably identified the
mode of training as the cascade approach. The approach is
clearly illustrated in the following diagram.
The triangle in Fig 2 illustrates the training cascade process.
Trainer and trainees at each level from the specialists down
to the schools are the targets for the desired change in quality
(note that numbers multiply at each stage). The entire process
shows what is called the training cascade model.
In this model five specialists trained 60 regional representatives
in the capital. The 60 regional representatives in turn trained
240 officers at regional and district level. These officers
then held workshops in their district circuits, to train all
6,000 heads in the country. This process made use of 'clusters',
formed by heads for their self-improvement and peer support.
These groups were able to determine their own learning programmes
using the training materials provided by the ministry and
its supporting agencies.
What problems are likely to be experienced with cascade training
Your list may have included the following drawbacks:
The transfer of skills from trainer of trainers to
subsequent levels of, trainers is not guaranteed.
Mistakes/misconceptions acquired in training are carried
all the way down.
The message may be distorted on the way especially
where the distance from top to bottom is great.
The quality of training is not likely to be uniform
where so many people are involved in the training process.
Due to diminishing funds the training may at times
be suspended before the target group is reached.
You have had an overview of some of the common methods used
in a 'top-down' approach to training. Let us now compare these
with the methods used in self-directed learning.
Open learning is a matter of acquiring knowledge, skills and
attitudes through self-initiated effort at an individual pace
and choice of time. It may be facilitated by specially structured
learning material, such as the Commonwealth Secretariat modules,
of which this module is an example.
Study the structure and nature of the Commonwealth Secretariat
materials and compare them with an ordinary school textbook.
What are the characteristics of the Commonwealth Secretariat
materials that make them different?
You may have noticed, among other things, that the Commonwealth
Secretariat materials have the following characteristics:
The materials are addressed to the reader.
Each unit or section begins by providing information
or knowledge from which an activity or exercise is derived,
in order to reinforce the knowledge or skill learned.
The activity or exercise is followed by a comment in
which the answer or part of the answer to the preceding activity
or exercise is provided.
The materials are presented in self-contained modules
and units in order to cater for the different needs of students.
The material is structured and presented in simple
language and manageable units of content.
Each unit has learning outcomes against which the learner
can evaluate his/her own progress.
Education for Life
'Education for Life' is the philosophy that learning is a
continuous process that takes place throughout an individual's
span of life. This philosophy is based on the assumption that
knowledge, skills and attitudes change with time.
It is therefore desirable that you, the head, should continue
to learn, in order to equip yourself for the changes that
will affect your life in general and your professional work
Suggest three ways in which you would promote 'Education for
Life' among staff in your school?
You may have included the following suggestions:
establishing a school library to promote and encourage
a reading culture in pupils and teachers
inviting guest speakers to the school to present papers
on topical issues
holding regular staff development workshops in which
different members of staff take turns to lead discussions.
The desire to improve the quality of education is a worldwide
concern. In Africa, it is a quest that has been taken up by
nearly every country.
One approach, commonly used, to raise the quality of education
is the establishment of school clusters.
A school cluster is a group of schools (in a geographical
area) that come together for the purpose of improving school
performance. Each cluster is responsible for running its own
affairs. It determines its own programme and learning pace
by choosing what it wants to learn, when it wants to do it
and how it wants to do it.
From your own experience or vision of clusters, state the
various aims and objectives of a cluster system.
Some of the objectives might be to:
improve the performance of heads
ensure the professional growth of teachers
improve school performance
introduce and maintain quality assurance processes
address heads' and teachers' needs
support each member of the group
enable peers to share professional ideas
strengthen community involvement.
The success or failure of a school cluster depends on the
effort put in by each one of its members. The more closely
heads work together in clusters, the greater the benefits
Professional people want to identify themselves with others
of their kind. Doctors, nurses and engineers have their own
professional groups or associations and there are a number
of education associations both at the national and local level.
Think of schools in your country and name the active associations
you may have had contact with.
What contribution are they making to professional development?
Your answer might have included some of the following:
subject associations (Maths, English or Science)
professional associations of heads or teachers (primary
Besides satisfying the need for belonging, an association
offers opportunities to grow professionally and socially and
provides intellectual stimulation.
Suggest ways in which associations may stimulate intellectual
Your suggestions may have included:
inviting visiting speakers or association members to
present papers that can be discussed at regular meetings
encouraging research into relevant topics and helping
members publish their results
organising study tours or conferences.
These activities promote both the personal and professional
growth of members.
Most of the learning which goes on in clusters is self-directed.
The seven modules so far produced are meant to assist individuals
and cluster members to manage their self-directed learning.
Fundamental information and suggestions on how to improve
schools have been given in the modules. You, as users of the
modules, will choose what you want to learn according to your
In clusters, you and your colleagues can arrive effectively
at these choices by using interactive learning processes.
Dadey and Harber (1991) point out that learning is most effective
when learners feel thoroughly and actively involved in the
learning experience. Interactive learning of module material
by the cluster clientele has several advantages.
(1) Identify and list some of the processes through which
cluster or group members can use interactive learning.
(2) Discuss the key aspects of each of the processes.
(3) State the advantages of each process.
In your answer to Question 1 above, you may have listed some
of the following processes:
cluster group discussions/ debates
The key aspects which make each of the above interactive
learning processes particularly useful are that they encourage:
sharing of insights, feelings and perceptions
attitudinal behaviour modelling and modification
real ownership of the learning experience
full exploration of knowledge
acquisition and development of skills
identification of positive attitudes/values
high motivational levels, generated from self-initiated
learning and involvement.
Learning on-the-job means simply learning by doing.
You have just been promoted to be a school head.
In your view, how best can you benefit from learning on-the-job?
In your discussion you might have mentioned:
understudying a more experienced colleague
participation in cluster group activities
participation in activities of the association of heads
drawing on the experience of colleagues at meetings.
It is perhaps easier to define a 'mentor' first and then look
at mentoring as a process. A mentor is one who oversees the
intellectual and professional development of others without
directly instructing the person or persons being monitored.
This form of monitoring progress is useful because it draws
largely on the strengths of the mentor and gives responsibility
for the outcome to the monitored.
The system relies heavily on self-directed learning. The
mentor is usually a well-versed and experienced practitioner
whose role is largely that of a supportive and interested
by-stander. It uses adult learning techniques where the mentor
(the teacher), does not teach in a formal manner but, nevertheless,
ensures that the monitored learns.
The word 'peer' means an equal. When you, as heads, get together
to share ideas you have a peer group.
Peer group learning is an interactive approach which allows
participative learning. Participants learn from each other.
Peer group learning creates a more informal atmosphere which
promotes a free exchange of ideas. It increases group expertise
and is cost effective. Peer group learning assists in changing
attitudes by rein forcing learning and providing feedback
from team members.
Five members of your cluster have invited you to lead a discussion
on school-based staff development.
(1) Draw up a checklist of items that would ensure the success
of the meeting.
(2) What approaches would you adopt for the benefit of members?
In your preparation and organisation, which is the key to
the success of the meeting, you would probably consider the
membership (how will new members be handled?)
group maintenance (who facilitates, who records?)
group tasks (how much work is to be accomplished, what
is the thrust?)
participation (how will you handle quiet or talkative
venue (what atmosphere prevails, what are group's expectations?).
The approaches you might consider are:
brainstorming of issues, raised either in small groups
or during plenary session
case studies or visits and observations.
It is our hope that this unit has enabled you to appreciate
the differences between training and professional development.
The former refers to externally initiated efforts while the
latter refers to programmes in which the participant has a
choice in terms of content and method of study. Heads should
be in a position to follow and benefit from the study of the
modules using both approaches.