The idea started in 2015 when six young teachers in an EU youth project went to Manila to work for two months in three public schools in the Binondo area. The reaction of the children, their atittude of welcoming and sharing with them all they had, their increase in motivation evoked in seeing young people coming from far away to be with them, the interest of the teachers to learn new methodologies, became strong points of the EU youth report. Trained in sustainability the six wanted the action they had undertaken to have a follow up. Hope for these children was an investment that could not be abandoned. Both the needs and the potential became apparent.
Need for a special Teacher Training Program
Teachers need support to cope with the different demands to teach in challenged areas.
Strengthening motivation to teach in these contexts becomes an urgency: to carry out a difficult but critical mission. Challenging areas are present all over the world. It is there where the opportunity for a radical change can be brought about by education. Preparation for this task requires specialisation. There are efforts to cope with some of the elements present in challenged contexts, but a concerted systemic one for teacher training of changing the focus from problems to opportunities, from negative perceptions to positive opportunities in a specific formation program becomes a necessity for those ready to take up the challenge.
Two years of analysis followed. This situation in the Philippines is also present in different parts of the world. A review of literature particularly of UNESCO, the Asian Development Bank, EU Reports and Government papers show the need to prepare teachers for emerging challenged areas. It is in marginalized areas that many young people drop out from school due to the decline of motivation provoked by families who force them to find a job, lack of resources, poor quality of the the educational system and teacher attrition in these schools.
It is in the marginal areas that action is urgently needed to change this pattern and motivate both students and teachers.
This analysis strengthened the urgency to focus on the teacher as the key element in the process, and, on the marginalized areas as the most urgent settings for an answer which could serve as a model at global level. The 2017 UN Report considered 123 countries as developing economies where these areas are the norm.
Economies in transition and even the developed economies have significant areas of poverty and marginalization as well.
The Philippines was selected as a pilot ground, motivated initially by the aforementioned youth project, the very large numbers of children and youth, the country’s positive attitude towards learning, the quality of many of its teacher education programs, and the use of English as the medium of instruction. FORTH, therefore was born to answer this need, starting with the Philippines but looking ahead for its implementation in other places in the world.
FORTH aims to ...
FORTH aims to develop a network of Higher Education Institutions, associations and stakeholders creating a system of quality, motivation and support to teacher training in a number of emerging challenged areas in the Philippines that could serve as a model of teachers training for similar contexts in the world.
To raise motivation of the teachers and the development of quality education in these areas, the following elements will be underscored.
- Highlight the importance of teaching in the emerging challenged areas by:
- Raising the quality of education and prestige of the training by developing a major in the Master program for this specific type of work. In addition, allowing teachers working in these areas to complete the MA program on a part-time basis.
- Training the trainers to be able to train others in the field and as well as those in the preinduction programs.
- Developing the year of practicum at the BA level in schools as learning labs with FORTH-trained staff.
- Fostering research projects and Master Thesis on topics related to teaching in marginal areas.
- Making the area a point of interest for international research and learning.
- Creating and consolidating learning communities for motivation and support by:
- Developing learning comunities at the local level in the 15 clusters for sharing experience and backing.
- Developing ownership of projects emerging from needs and discovering solutions from within the communities.
- Developing learning communities at national level through national training sessions and an online platform.
- Linking the international teams of the consortium with the Tuning groups all over the world as communities of contrast, sharing and support.
- Changing the narrative from one focusing on problem realities and concentrating in quality education as instrument of transformation by:
- Emphasizing the potential of the project as pilot and model for other regions of the world and fostering the development of networks with akin goals.
- Developing a Master program to eventually become an Erasmus Mundus and a focal point of excellence at a later date.
- Creating a system of communicating results and analysis of data from experts from other parts of the world with the Tuning Academy and its global network among others.
This combination of measures is expected to change the situation and increase the importance of education as a transforming power in critical areas of the world effecting:
It is critical that Commission of Higher Education and the Department of Education in the Philippines be present and backing FORTH. The new curriculum developed will be a Major on «Teaching in Emerging Challenged Areas». This Major will be incorporated with foundation/ core courses, electives and research requirements of the MA in Education following the curriculum of the university where it is anchored.
Courses will be developed by the transnational team in a collaborative manner. Determining the lines for Master thesis or the Special Project (where appropriate) will also be part of the work done jointly by the consortium team. This Major will be composed of six modules – total of one year credits out of a two year Master Program.
Teacher profile in marginal areas, motivation, relevance, meaning, teacher beliefs on the impact of
marginalization and poverty.
Context analysis; defining social impact indicators; review of data.
Creating a learning climate in challenging realities: appreciative inquiry , empathy; proximity; expectations, effective and inviting use of existing classroom space.
Teaching, learning and assessment in challenged areas, specific methodologies making learning accessible in context of poverty : use of multiple intelligences; collaborative learning; reflective learning; critical thinking; power to learn; higher order thinking skills and project building competency.
Creation of relevant and innovative teaching materials for challenging realities: use of appropriate materials and tools for large classes, videos and success stories, group and project- based learning.
Creating a teaching and learning community among colleagues: teacher-peer planning of activities; development of self-esteem, action-research, and awareness of a global community and other experiences in the world taking place in similar areas.
A competence-based, student-centered approach will be used throughout the entire project.
Resources and expertise of the Tuning Project and CALOHEE (Measuring and Comparing Achievements of Learning Outcomes in Higher Education in Europe) will be made available.
- There will be a system of blended learning collaboratively planned by partners offering their specific expertise in online courses and platforms. Objectives, milestones, outcomes and working documents will be posted for all members on the intranet. Finished products will be made available online.
- Each module will have a team with members from each partner organization. They will meet online as needed during the period of module development and later for feedback on implementation. In addition to the Launching, there will be four face to face meetings: three in the Philippines and one in Europe to jointly revisit and contrast the different elements of the program with European colleagues.
- Contributions will be circulated online to the members attending the Teachers Training sessions.
- For each module, main lines, literature, a repository of practices, methodologies, materials,activities and real examples from the 15 clusters themselves will be posted on the FORTH platform.
- In between training meetings will be a time of intense preparation, contrast and Master and clusters development, creation of materials and evaluation of received results.
- This methodology of work is a system of concentrated activities. In transnational meetings, time will be given to work on the different systems of accreditation, quality, dissemination in each of the cities where FORTH will take place: Manila, Iloilo, Davao, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.
Towards the Future
FORTH is expected to:
- A growth in the motivation of people in the project areas : teachers, children and young people, parents and the entire community.
- A critical mass of teachers called to work in these crucial areas to really make a change.
- A number of clusters where learning and reflection take place and where authentic material is elaborated to be shared and further developed.
- A model of a pioneering experience of collaboration between sectors and countries
- An academic program to be transformed into an Internationl Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Program between Universities of the Philippines and Europe.
- A focal point for research and innovation in this specific field and a reference point for other regions of the world.