Developing countries need good teachers to educate people out of poverty and drive positive change in society. Creating accessible, sustainable systems for teacher training is particularly difficult in countries with vast expanses of land and limited infrastructure.
In Nigeria, although many states are trying to produce and support competent teachers, learning outcomes remain low. Many children do not attain the competency levels in literacy and numeracy that they need to progress with their education by the time they leave primary school.
The UK aid-funded Teacher Development Programme is piloting the use of low-cost mobile phones and tablet computers, called the "trainer in the pocket." We lead the consortium managing the program, a six-year initiative operating in five northern states of Nigeria.
Teachers have access to a wide range of content, including videos and audio stories, to make lessons more interesting. For example, by connecting their phone to an amplifier, teachers can play rhymes that teach phonics, a method of reading that improves the association between symbols and sounds. Additional digital content for self-study improves teachers’ subject knowledge and pedagogic skills.
Alongside the latest technology, program instructors have trained a cadre of state and local government-based trainers to guide teachers on how to conduct simple but effective lessons by rediscovering"‘no cost, low cost" learning materials.
With new skills, teachers will be able to manage a classroom more effectively, and think creatively to deliver interactive and inspiring lessons in English, mathematics, science and technology.
By 2019, it is expected that the Teacher Development Programme will have improved the skills of 62,000 teachers, 816 teacher educators and 4,000 student teachers, enhancing the learning outcomes and life chances of more than 2 million young Nigerians every year.