US Government Delegation Visits Quality Learning Project Teacher-Mentors

March 12, 2010


USAID’s Regional Mission Director, Andy Sisson (far left) greets training participants.

For years, even decades, Tajikistan’s children learned by rote memorization, a teaching method that does not foster critical thinking and is teacher driven.

But, over the past year, the USAID Quality Learning Project has trained 1,000 teachers in a new pedagogy that is child-centered—one that takes into account students’ learning styles and promotes the development of each child. This pedagogy teaches that learning is the result of a mind well formed rather than one that serves as a simple repository for data. Widely praised by teachers and beneficial to students, the new method of instruction aims to move a generation of teachers and students into the 21st Century.

Yet, the unfamiliar child-centered pedagogy has left some teachers wary of implementing the new methods, especially after the trainers have left. The training while extensive lasted only a few days. To bridge the gap between the “old” method and the “new,” the Quality Learning Project team initiated a mentoring program to bolster teacher confidence, a critical element in the long-term implementation of the new methodology.

“The training, above all, helped me to change myself and then my entire approach to the learning process and way of working with the kids and my colleagues. I am now much more aware of how to approach my colleagues and help them to change as well,” said Hadisa Jumaeva, a primary school teacher-mentor in Kulob. “It is always difficult at the first stages to introduce new behaviors into professional lives, because old habits are constantly resurfacing.”

The Quality Learning Project’s mentoring program enables USAID to complement its training. The application of modern teaching and student assessment methods will continue in Tajikistan’s schools, ensuring maximum training outcomes.

The initiative caught the attention of U.S. Government representatives who visited a Quality Learning Project mentors’ training session in Kulob on January 20th. The delegation was headed by Necia Quast, the U.S. Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission in Tajikistan and Andrew Sisson, Regional Mission Director for USAID in the Central Asia Region. The new teacher mentors trained in this session will become part of an ongoing day-to-day teacher development program that is being introduced to the system.

After the training, Sisson joined participants in a discussion. Sisson was particularly interested in knowing the factors that affect student achievement and the formative processes that the teacher can use to identify student progress.

“We developed criteria and indicators to improve our mentoring skills. We reflected on what qualities were needed of a mentor and applied the training to develop such qualities. Throughout the training, we had to continuously evaluate our actions to make them measure up to the parameters we developed and agreed upon,” Boron Madiyorov, a training participant told the delegation. “This urged us to change something within us every time we behaved contrary to the mutually agreed parameters. For me, it was a wonder to see myself changed in such a short time!”

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