This year’s annual study visit by the participants of the IIEP Advanced Training Programme in Educational Planning and Management (ATP) took place in the Académie (Regional Education Authority) of Lille from 26 February to 3 March.
Organized by the French National Commission for UNESCO, the visit provided IIEP trainees with an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the French education system as well as see its policies and programmes in practice through a series of school visits from pre-primary to upper secondary level.
This year’s visit focused on the theme of quality with participants working on the three following sub themes:
- Piloting and monitoring the quality of educatioN
- Innovative policies to promote quality
- Teachers and teacher training
Trainees attended sessions on educational quality in France presented by representatives from the Académie, the École Supérieure du Professorat et de l'Éducation (Teacher Training College) and local elected officials. There were also several opportunities throughout the visit to discuss the implications of these policies and programmes with school heads and teachers.
In addition, trainees spent one day in Belgium in the town of Courtrai to learn more about the teacher education system in Flanders, as well as a programme of cross-border exchanges for both pupils and teachers.
On the final day of the visit, participants presented their findings to officials from the Académie as well as lessons they could take home to their own countries.
ATP trainees Jeffrey Taritogagi, Senior Monitoring Officer at the Ministry of Education and Training in Vanuatu and Abdou Kinissa, Chief at the Directorate of Studies and Programing at the Ministry of Secondary Education at Niamey in Niger, shared with us their experiences from the week.
IIEP: During the study visit, trainees were assigned a subject to focus on in greater depth. What was the subject you worked on and what did you learn?
Jeffrey Taritogagi: My group looked at teachers and teacher training. We learnt about pre-service teacher training and in-service teacher training in France, about the involvement of different actors especially in vocational training, and also about the role of the inspection services.
Abdou Kinissa: I was in the group that focused on piloting the quality of education. We sought to verify on the ground what we learnt in our courses on quality. We found out that from the Académie to the schools, and via the départements (local education authorities), many indicators are used to ensure the quality of education in France.
IIEP: This year’s study visit concentrated on the subject of quality. What did you learn about implementing policies to promote quality in France? What are the differences between France and your country?
Jeffrey Taritogagi: There is one difference with my country that stands out for me. It is that in terms of quality, the French system is compared at an international level whereas in my country [Vanuatu] we don’t participate in international tests, therefore we don’t really know where we stand on the international stage.
Abdou Kinissa: We learnt that different tools are used in piloting the quality framework. For example, mission letters addressed to inspectors and school councils, visits to classes, regular assessments of pupils – all of these tools contribute to pilot the quality of teaching.
In France, there are several sources of funding: the State but also local elected authorities and the private sector. In Niger, the State is in charge of all expenses.
Another aspect interested me a lot: how French schools are secured. In Niger, there are open air schools with no walls or fences. Teachers and students might be disturbed at any time. In France, the school area is well secured.
IIEP: How did the study visit complement the Advanced Training Program (ATP) in Educational Planning and Management?
Jeffrey Taritogagi: The study visit complemented the training programme very well by illustrating the implementation of policies related to quality. We learnt a lot about policies during the course but during the study visit, we experienced the reality of implementing those policies and sometimes the differences with the theory.
Abdou Kinissa: A lot of the knowledge learned during the course in class was verified during the field visit on issues related to quality, equity, and piloting. That’s why the study visit complements well the training course. We went from theory in class to practice in the field.
IIEP: Is there anything in particular that you have learned during the study visit or at the ATP that you will take with you to Vanuatu/Niger?
Jeffrey Taritogagi: There are many, but with regards to the study visit, one of them has to do with in-service teacher training. We learned that the teachers themselves can be involved in identifying their own training needs. I also liked the pre-service teacher training because it is addressing quality issues Master level 1 has more to do with theory and Master level 2 more with practice Trainee teachers spend time doing practical training where they put into practice what they have learnt. At Master level, they also incorporate research which is something really positive to help teachers develop innovative ways of teaching. In my country, it is a bit different, as teachers have a short period of time to do practical training before getting their degree and teaching.
Another aspect is the role of inspectors. It was very interesting to learn that inspectors undertake pedagogical evaluation of teachers in relation to the subject matter, as well as student learning; that they assist teachers in their career progression and in identifying their training needs; and that they also support teachers in special programmes or projects based on the teachers' subject specialty.
Abdou Kinissa: I was particularly interested by the Réseaux d’éducation prioritaire (priority education areas) set up by education authorities in areas where learning outcomes are low. Such an approach does not exist in Niger. Another example is the existence of substitutes teachers (in case of pregnancy for example), and also of a special category of staff managed by municipalities that look after the students during free time (Wednesday afternoon and after classes). In Niger, there is no such initiatives.
Read more in the local daily, Nord Littoral here.