Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA)

Project Representative
Ms Freda Wolfenden
Creation Date: 2005
Headquarters: The Open University , UK
Geographical Reach: Sub-Saharan Africa
Nature and number of beneficiaries: 500,000 teachers and student teachers

Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA)

About the Project

TESSA has been successfully creating and disseminating Open Educational Resources (OER) to support teacher education across Sub-Saharan Africa since 2005. It is a network of institutions and organizations collaborating to improve the quality of teacher education.

The importance of high-quality teaching in shaping pupils’ educational experiences is increasingly being recognized and TESSA was conceptualized in response to this need to pay attention to teacher education.

The TESSA community(African and International organisations)  has harnessed the affordances of the web and OER and teacher educators’ intellectual capital to collaboratively develop teacher education materials which are conceptually strong but sufficiently flexible to be used successfully at scale across numerous cultural and linguistic contexts whilst retaining their purpose and integrity.  TESSA OER have been adapted for different country contexts in four languages - English, French, Arabic and Kiswahili. All are available in multiple formats from the TESSA online environment.

TESSA OER are structured around professional classroom activities which aim to improve the effectiveness of teacher–pupil interactions. They provide building blocks for new courses or enhance existing programs. Most education systems in Africa are attempting to embrace more active approaches to teaching and learning and TESSA provides an exemplification of this.

Context and Issue

TESSA addresses the issue of quality of teaching and learning with the focus on curriculum design and delivery of teacher education.

Sub-Saharan Africa is in urgent need of new and better qualified teachers. There are millions of children without a teacher and many existing primary teachers are in urgent need of professional learning opportunities to raise levels of pupil achievement - large numbers of children leave school without learning the basics of literacy and numeracy. Teacher education is thus a major cause for concern and there is an urgent need to re-model existing programs to improve their focus on classroom practice and to develop new modes of teacher training to increase the supply of trained teachers, particularly in rural areas.

Solution and Impact

The TESSA OER are organised to match the school curriculum whilst providing activities which support teachers in moving towards a more participatory pedagogy with their pupils. The OER also offer case studies showing how other teachers have enaged with these activities in their classrooms and prompt reflection and teacher learning.

TESSA OER have been incorporated into over twenty teacher education programmes in ten countries in Sub Saharan Africa. These include pre-service and in-service programmes, accredited and non-accredited courses. Use of the TESSA OER has supported more reflective and active teaching involving more use of local resources and leading to greater pupil involvement in learning.

Future Developments

The next steps and developments for TESSA include:

- Understanding more fully the embedding of TESSA OER and how this use can be extended
- Embedding new OER to support secondary teachers and the teaching of early reading
- Exploring the use of TESSA OER on mobile devices (tablet pcs)
This will be achieved through a number of funded project grants. For example, funding from the  William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is enabling TESSA to pilot the use of tablet computers containing TESSA OER and the TESSA Teaching Practice toolkit in three states in Nigeria. In Ghana a successful model of use of TESSA OER at one college of education is being extended to further colleges.

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