Success Story: STEP Malawi

April 12, 2024

The Strengthening Teacher Education and Practice (STEP) Activity in Malawi works hand-in-hand with higher education institutions to improve instruction for pre-service teachers and provide a pathway of continuous professional development for early grade teachers. 

STEP supports a nationwide approach to continuous professional development (CPD) for teacher educators preparing primary teachers. Providing teacher educators quality professional development opportunities in foundational literacy instruction are beginning to make a difference. 

Initially, the STEP team noted teacher educators used the same word across the gradual release of responsibility model, which made it challenging to know whether learners were learning or simply memorizing. To support literacy instruction CPD introduced the creation of new teaching and learning resources using locally available resources (TALULAR) used in the teaching of phonological awareness and phonics. For example, TEs now use Elkonin Boxes, bottle tops, letter cards and small books."A teacher is sitting on a carpet facing four young students who are all looking at a paper in front of them. "

During the piloting of the classroom lesson observation tool and fidelity of foundational literacy implementation visits, TETs observed some TEs are now comfortable in the correct use of GRRM which is important for sustainability of the intervention.  There is a greater use of teaching and learning resources, making classes lively and learner centered.

During their visits, TETs have, to date, come across correct use of the gradual release model at thirteen teacher training institutions (TTIs), and improved use of teaching and learning resources at ten TTIs of the participating 21 TTIs. From a sample of 62 available TEs who were observed using the GRRM 60 % were using it correctly. Similarly, from a sample of ninety TEs observed teaching, 59% effectively integrated TALULAR in the lesson. While these are informal studies, they demonstrate the sustainable, positive impacts the STEP Activity is making on the quality of teaching practices.

The USAID-funded STEP Activity will continue to develop quality sustainable foundational literacy instruction over the next two years in both the Diploma and Initial Teacher Primary Education program, in all public and private TTCs, that will impact on children’s improved foundational literacy.