If I were the Minister of Education in Burkina Faso, one of the changes I would make to the educational system would be a network of substitute teachers. As stated in earlier posts, there are really no substitute teachers here. If a teacher is absent due to injury, illness, pregnancy, or other. They most likely do not get replaced. If they’re lucky they may have a PCV or a villageois who is willing to do it. If there is no substitute other teachers or the director may fill in. If not…it’s too bad.
Yesterday I found out that the CM1 teacher at Ecole A is going to be going on maternity leave. When I asked the director if anyone was going to replace her he said probably not. Because we actually have a director at our school I think that he may end up covering for her, but even that is not 100% sure. He lives in the regional capital and not in the village and does not come in every day.
Here’s another example, last year our CM2 teacher was out for weeks with ulcers and hallucinations. She never got a substitute teacher Luckily our director was able to fill in and there were many motivated and exceptional students.
I was talking to my friend Beth, another Music Ed grad and PCV in the Sourou Valley and she did a ton of subbing before she came to Burkina. Many of my classmates got long-term sub positions when a teacher was on maternity leave. Sometimes those jobs turned into other jobs. The advantage is that the subs got experience, and they got paid for it. It can be a very lucrative job when someone is first starting out and has not yet won a full-time position.
When I was student teaching in Michigan, my school district had an electronic subbook with available hours with qualifications and needs and whether it was a long-term or a short-term sub. Because I was student teaching, the sub was just there to observe me, because technically student teachers cannot be left unsupervised. It worked great. If my cooperating teacher was sick or going to be absent he could log on and post his classes he would miss online. Even when he traveled from school to school the position was always filled.
I don’t think that an online subbook would be a viable solution in BF, but it could work in terms of long-term substitutes on paper. If there are trained teachers, or teachers with enough experience (tutoring, training etc ) they should be informed and able to take an open sub job. A school should be able to put out a notice saying that Teacher X who teaches (CP1, CP2, CE1, CE2, CM1, CM2 etc) is going to be on maternity leave for X months. They advertise the job and somehow work out housing and get it filled. The students get taught, the sub gets paid and gets work experience. In theory, everyone wins. The Direction Provinciale de Education de Base could be in charge of it, or it could be done by district at the Conscription de Base level.
In my opinion, one of the biggest obstacles to the education system here is lack of attendance by teachers and students. When the students don’t have school or don’t have a teacher, they suffer. This system could potentially create hundreds if not thousands more jobs and ensure that every child in BF has an equal opportunity and access to their education.