TESSA is being led by The Open University (UK) and a consortium of African and international organisations. The UK’s Department for Education and Skills (DfES) provided funds for the preliminary planning phase of the project. The substantive development work has been funded by a donation from The Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and donations from alumni of the Open University (UK). At eLearning Africa the TESSA workshop will explore the policy context of school based teacher education and training as well as alternative models of providing teacher education and training to scale with eLearning as a core programme resource. The seminar will draw on the experience and plans of the TESSA consortium and a related parallel initiative, the Digital Education Enhancement Project (DEEP).
Most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa will be significantly expanding teacher supply in the coming years. If ‘Education for All’ targets are to be met it is estimated that an additional three million teachers are required. And this at a time when teacher recruitment is difficult and HIV/Aids is impacting on the teacher population. Already millions of unqualified or underqualified teachers are being recruited to make up a shortfall.
The TESSA programme is researching and developing a wide range of resources and delivering advice for countries setting up rapid ‘emergency type’ training programmes, particularly those where teachers are already working in schools. TESSA will provide a form of ‘course development toolkit’ with resources that can be versioned into local contexts. The resources will be in a web on-line format, including downloadable print items that can be used with teachers without internet connection. All will be ‘open content’ and free at the point of use.
“This does have the potential to revolutionise education in Africa,” said Denzil Desouza, who is TESSA administrator in the Faculty of Education and Language Studies. “We are working alongside many African institutions because they know what the local educational needs are.”
The programme, however, is looking to the future and the time when widespread internet access (perhaps via a new generation of mobile cell phones) will enable teachers in the most remote geographical areas to readily make contact with resources and trainer support. In its first phase TESSA is directed towards the primary sector but feasibility studies seeking to extend the remit to secondary subject areas such as Mathematics and Science are underway at present.
The eLearning Africa TESSA workshop will cover a range of issues being developed by the programme including:
- policy advocacy for a new approach to teacher education, including the use of ICTs
- the design and development of open content web based resources for teacher education
- the creation of school based teacher education course models
the way in which new modes of ICT may be utilised in TESSA related teacher education programmes.
The workshop will also consider how the research findings from the Digital Education Enhancement Project (DEEP), a parallel project also featured in the conference programme, have relevance to the take-up and use of the TESSA resources.