The « networking » process associated to a change of paradigm in the education sector can trigger a deep change in national educative processes and modalities

Author: François Bernede

networking

The trainer-learner relationships have been historically formalized by the « educative institution », embodied by schools and universities, and have been strongly marked by hierarchical relationships (“top-down”) between these two categories, based on power relations (“I have the knowledge and you have to listen to me”). These relationships remained  linear within the Euclidian and Cartesian meaning and even unilateral, until the emergence of a new paradigm in the educative world: the “network thinking” and its operational counterpart, the networking. Any act of education and training is indeed the result of two modalities of interactive intervention: a set of acts, generally individuals but sometimes collective, of awareness of education and training expectations, resulting, from the trainer, of an observation of the learners’ expressed or latent needs and, from their side, of a comprehension and appropriation of the reasons and causes for which they accept and/or want to engage in a learning act. It is often an informal process, resulting from several interactions – sometimes organized but also incidentals – between trainer and learner (potential or in a teaching-learning situation):

Firstly, a set of actions closely interlinked, of educative and training responses to the elements observed by the trainer and understood by the future learner, with the delineation of one (or several) way(s) of learning and the availability for the learner(s) of a pedagogical tool kit together with its instructions for use: this is the educational engineering.

Secondly, the learner’s “road map” on one of these learning ways, relying on available tools and guided in its approach by the trainer: it is the role-play situation for education, training and learning.  

This synthetic panorama of the reflections’, act’s and interactions’ system implemented by individuals and institutions a priori disconnected from each others, raises the picture of Network, which replaces the vertical paradigm by a diffusion and fair distribution of the “power” among the actors of the education/training act and in all the social fields.  

The networking, training tool for teaching and supervisory staffs in Haiti [1]

The case of the education sector in Haiti is remarkable to illustrate the concepts described here above, since the country is confronted to a double challenge: the first one, related to the quality, very insufficient especially at the critical stages of studying reading/writing in Creole and in French; then the second one regarding the governance, since the public sector only represents 15% of the services offered and the private sector is far too much left alone. The concept of “networking” or connection of educative resources allows facing these challenges with a double target: on one hand, the search of an increasing access to education, thanks to an effort of rationalization of the school map, giving way to a better balance between demand and offer of school enrolment; and on the other hand the search of a better quality of teaching/learning processes imparted; thus, through a sharing of pedagogic resources and a synergy of teaching capacities available in all the schools of the network [2]. This concept, which has been experimented successfully in other countries, is present in Haiti and has led to a structural and operational application in the form of the EFACAP (see box hereunder).

The training of large numbers of teachers requires reference pilot schools called “Fundamental Schools of Application” (EFA in French) combined with “Pedagogic Support Centres” (CAP in French). The mission of these EFACAP is to constitute the essential link in the initial and continuous training mechanism, providing a strong anchor at the field level. These reference schools are at the centre of a network of schools called “associated” with which they sign a support agreement in terms of training and pedagogic support for initial training of the future teachers and continuous training of trainers, first within the network and then beyond.

 

If the goals and strategy of such « networking » have been adopted, not only within the training policy of teaching and non-teaching staffs, but also in a more “systemic” way, in the future Ten-years plan of Education and Training, under preparation (with the support of the SBC project), the Ministry of Education and Professional Training (MENFP) must define the roles that actors from the educative system will have to play at all levels in this new context.

Hence, in this new perspective, the professions and functions of educative agents, especially at the level of the institution will be deeply modified with the inclusion of different modalities of networking, such as educative institution projects taking into account the role of the school as a networking facilitator of its surrounding community, both social (populations) and educative (schools from the network); the continuous learning between colleagues (“peer teaching” within the network); the use of ITC as a tool of networking, and finally the permanent search of pedagogic innovations through the network exchanges. This new state of mind, that will be taken into account in the new training policy for teachers and supervisory agents, will obviously require a change of culture where the Provincial Directors of Education (DDE in French), the inspectors of area and the schools’ principals will have a key role to play. On this aspect of the reform, the “networking” approach, instead of being the traditional hierarchical approach, should provide an essential way to change the educative processes and modalities, as well as the behavior of their actors.

To conclude, the examples presented here above show the power of this new paradigm embodied by the “networking” (and the “networkthinking) for planning, organization, and implementation of an education aimed to innovate in the exposition and adoption to the world of tomorrow it wishes to offer to the learner. However, this new paradigm will be able lead to exemplar and long-term practices, only if the necessary underlying cultural change is pursued through a continuing education of all the partners involved. It is the current challenge of the training systems and their actors in numerous countries.

[1] Country where the company Eptisa is conducting a technical assistance project in the framework of the SBC  programme (State Building Contract) funded by the European Union

[2] And through the search of Public Private Partnership (PPP) still incipient in Haiti

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