9.1 INITIAL EDUCATION FOR TEACHERS WORKING IN EARLY CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL EDUCATION
•1 Institutions, level and models of training
The Law on higher educational institutions for teaching staff in preschool, primary and secondary education regulates the higher education institutions that qualify for study programs for teachers in pre-school education, primary and secondary education on the territory of Republic of North Macedonia. Higher education for teachers in preschool, primary and secondary education lasts at least four years and upon its completion graduates acquire at least 240 ECTS. The qualifications acquired by completing a study program for teacher in preschool, primary and secondary education belong to VI A level from the National Framework of Higher Education Qualifications and correspond to level VI of the European Framework of Higher Education Qualifications.
The initial education of primary school teachers in the Republic of Macedonia has a different institutional, conceptual, organizational and program structure. This can be seen in several aspects:
- It is realized at faculties that prepare exclusively teachers for preschool and elementary teaching (first to fifth grade) in primary education (pedagogical faculties), but also at faculties that, in addition to teaching, also train highly qualified staff in certain areas with non-teaching competencies;
- the subject teachers acquire their education at faculties that have teaching programs starting from the first or third semester or at faculties that do not have a choice of curricula, but offer a unique study program that leads to a teaching title;
- The subject teachers have two paths for entering the teaching profession: direct training to perform the teaching activity through study programs for teachers (240 ECTS) and additional acquisition of teacher qualification after graduation from a faculty that does not lead to a teaching title (240 + 30 ECTS).
The Law regulates that the study program for education of teachers in preschool, primary and secondary education is envisaged "... to provide students with the acquisition of necessary knowledge, abilities and skills with which they will be enabled to perform educational activity ... "and they should be aimed at the adoption and development of teaching competencies". Furthermore, the study program should be prepared in accordance with the Law on Higher Education and contain at least:
- organized academic training, which contains basic, advanced and professional courses in the scientific field of pedagogy, psychology and teaching methodology and in the scientific field of education,
- lectures and other communication activities,
- practical classes lasting at least 40 days per year in the first two years and of at least 60 days per year in the last two years which are performed appropriately in public institutions for preschool education and schools ".
The preparation of teachers for pre-school and primary education in the Republic of North Macedonia is realized at faculties within four state universities: “St. Cyril and Methodius ”in Skopje,“ St. Kliment Ohridski ”in Bitola, the State University in Tetovo and“ Goce Delchev ”in Stip. Five of them prepare teachers to work with students in preschool and from first to fifth grade in primary schools in the Republic of Macedonia (Faculty of Pedagogy in Skopje, Bitola and Tetovo, Faculty of Education in Stip and Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje), and others train subject teachers (UKIM -Skopje: Philosophical, Philological, Natural-Mathematical, Faculty of Fine Arts, Faculty of Music, Faculty of Physical Education, Sports and Health; Bitola: Faculty of Pedagogy; Stip: Faculty of Educational Sciences, Faculty of Philology, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Faculty of Technology sciences, Faculty of Informatics, Academy of Music, Academy of Fine Arts; Tetovo: Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Faculty of Philology, Faculty of Philosophy, Faculty of Physical Education, Faculty of Arts).
At the faculties that prepare elementary teaching teachers, methodological and didactical contents and the practical teaching are taught / take place from the very beginning of the studies, along with the study of the general education and other subjects. Unlike this integrated model, the faculties that prepare subject teachers apply more the consecutive model, according to which the pedagogical-professional component follows the professional-scientific one and is present in the later years of study (usually from the fifth, and in some faculties only in the seventh and eighth semesters). It consists of a small number of compulsory subjects, mainly one to three, which refer to the methodologies of individual teaching with hospitalizations, as well as approximately the number of elective subjects that usually include pedagogy, psychology, didactics and assessment in teaching. However, a smaller number of study programs (for example, teaching chemistry at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics-Skopje) have accepted the integrated model of preparation of class teachers in which the pedagogical component is intertwined with the professional-scientific.
•2 Admission requirements
Decision on the number of students who can enroll the public higher education institutions’ study programs for teacher in preschool, primary and secondary education in the Republic of North Macedonia is adopted by the Government at the proposal of the ministry responsible for higher education. Public competition for enrollment is announced by the University of which the higher education institution is a member, at least five months before the beginning of the semester. The competition for enrollment contains: name of the higher education institution and its address, name of the study program, place of performance of study program, duration of studies, conditions for enrollment, number of vacancies for registration, procedures and deadlines for application and execution of enrollment.
All persons who have passed the state matura exam, or final exam in completed vocational secondary education lasting four years (in certain cases are determined by the public competitions for enrollment), have the right to enroll studies for teaching profession, as in other higher education institutions. The adequacy of the secondary education of the candidate is decided by each institution separately, which is defined by the procedure and criteria for selection of candidates by the universities. The teaching-scientific council of the teaching faculties, when determining the conditions for enrollment provided in the competition, determines: all conditions, criteria, number of vacancies for enrollment, types of study programs, ways of study, duration, procedures and deadlines for application and enrollment, continuation of studies, transfer to another study program and the like. The competition is announced by the universities (upon the proposal of the units, adopted by the Rector's Office), with the consent of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia.
The ranking of the candidates for admission is based on the success from secondary education and the examination of knowledge and skills (for art faculties with teaching direction and study programs which are realized in a foreign language). In addition to the criterion for ranking according to the success of secondary education, pre-selections are provided in the form of non-scoring interviews at some faculties.
Applicants are enrolled as full-time students funded by the state or by co-financing their studies. Part-time students can also be enrolled in the first cycle of studies at the faculties, depending on the character of the study program. Candidates who have completed higher education at related faculties and higher schools (outside the quota, up to 10% of the total number of full-time students at the respective faculty) can also enroll in the first cycle of academic studies at the faculties. There is also a category of students who do not pay co-payments (students without parents; disabled students of the first and second group; war invalids; people raised in homes for abandoned children), and the funds for co-payments of these people are covered by the State Budget.
•3 Curriculum, level of specialisation and learning outcomes
The scope and organization of the first cycle studies are legally regulated and the studies of the teaching faculties are included in that framework: the total workload of the students is from 1500 to 1800 hours per year during a maximum of 40 weeks per year; the weekly number of classes is 20-30 hours of lectures, exercises and seminars, and the total workload of the student must not exceed 40 hours per week.
The description of all study and subject programs of all teaching faculties states that "the programs are structured on the principles of the Bologna Process and ECTS standards, and especially in the area of credit transfer and horizontal and vertical student mobility, it is stated that they are characterized with full application of European standards for student workload during one year ".
The analysis of the concept of subject programs indicates differences on the surface level, but also similarities on a deeper, structural level. The study programs record differences in terms of classes and credits that the same subjects have at different faculties, as well as in terms of their status (compulsory or elective). The concept of the subject programs of the teaching faculties is broad, academically based and emphasizes the accumulation of points, and not the effective application of what has been learned in practice. The courses can be grouped into three basic groups: (1) general (2) narrow-handed (3) practicums, hospitalizations and internships, but the approach to organization and implementation of the course programs is academic.
According to the Law and the Rulebook on the basic professional competencies of teachers in primary and secondary schools by areas, the basic professional competencies of teachers include professional values, professional knowledge and understanding and professional abilities and skills in six areas: 1. Knowledge of the subject and the educational system; 2. Teaching and learning (planning and preparation of teaching, realization of teaching, assessment of students, knowledge of students and meeting their needs); 3. Creating a stimulating learning environment (creating a safe learning environment and school climate); 4. Social and educational inclusion; 5. Communication and cooperation with family and community and 6. Professional development and professional cooperation.
The analysis shows that most of the contents in the study programs that train subject teachers refer to the acquisition of knowledge about the subject / scientific discipline (concepts, principles, laws, areas) while the study of the educational system is represented as an elective subject, and is absent within the individual subject contents.
Teaching and learning is the second most represented component of the study programs that prepare subject teachers, where the compulsory subjects refer mainly to the didactical-methodological issues, which covers only the part for planning, preparation and implementation of teaching. The other two compulsory components, student assessment and knowing your students and meeting their needs are absent from the study programs or are partially represented by pedagogical-psychological and docimological contents offered as electives with fewer hours and credits than the compulsory ones. Unlike the subject teachers, in the study programs of the faculties that prepare class teachers, compulsory and elective contents cover all four sub-areas of teaching and learning.
Development of professional competencies of teachers in the area creating a stimulative learning environment is limited to two components related to the application of ICT in teaching (compulsory or elective subject) and pedagogical communication (elective subject). All other aspects of this area are uncovered.
The training of the subject teachers does not include contents related to the area of Social and Educational Inclusion. In the study programs, on the faculties that prepare class teachers, this area is represented with only one compulsory or elective subject (inclusive pedagogy, multicultural education, civic and multicultural education with methodology), or the contents of this area are given cross-curricularly.
Cooperation with families and the local community and professional development and cooperation of teachers as mandatory components in building the competencies of future subject teachers in the study programs are not covered with content that would directly address this issue. Eventually and partially, the electoral pedagogical contents that are present in some programs reach it. The situation is similar with the class teachers: only in two study programs at the same faculty there is one elective subject for the respective area (Educational organization and the environment and Permanent education).
The practical training of students in the study programs for initial education of preschool and primary school teachers is realized through: pedagogical practice, hospitalizations (methodological-didactical) or clinical (methodological) practice and practical teaching or pedagogical experience. Among the mentioned types of practice there are differences in terms of the manner of realization, compulsory, placement in study programs, courses, number of credits, number of credits, as well as in terms of determining the place of realization, type, character, assessment and treatment of practical training.
Practical training of students through the studies is realized through pedagogical practice, methodological-didactical practice and pedagogical experience at the faculties for preschool and primary school teachers. The pedagogical practice is realized from the first to the third semester of the pedagogical faculties, with 15 to 30 days for each semester, with one, two and four ECTS credits.
The methodological-didactical practice (hospitalizations) in the study programs for grade teachers is usually realized as an integral part of the compulsory didactical-methodological subjects, but in certain cases also as additional elective subjects. Between the faculties there are variations in the number of credits for each of the courses and the total number of credits for this type of practice, the number of semesters with which those courses are represented, the weekly number of classes and the like.
Regarding the methodological-didactical practice (hospitalizations), there are also differences between the study programs that prepare subject teachers for primary education: in some of them the practice is realized within a study subject of methodological-didactic nature and in some of them there are up to five such study subjects with compulsory character. The weekly fund of classes within the mentioned subjects ranges from two to fifteen hours, the number of credits per subject is from two to twelve, and representation is in the range of one to four semesters.
The pedagogical internship, as a completion and independent practical performance of the educational activity of the future teacher, is not foreseen in a number of study programs at the faculties of the state universities that prepare subject teachers in the primary education, with some exeptions.
•4 Teacher educators
Teaching in higher education institution for education of teacher in preschool, primary and secondary education can be performed only by a person selected in accordance with the Law on Higher Education in teaching-scientific and teaching title for the time selected. In addition to the criteria for election to a title in accordance with the Law on Higher Education teacher educators should also meet the following criteria: proven and fruitful scientific research activity in the scientific field for which they are elected, published at least four papers in international scientific journals in the last three years and papers in a journal with an impact factor in the last three years that carry a total of at least five points, ie papers in a journal with an impact factor in the last five years that carry a total of at least ten points on the Web of Science.
•5 Qualifications, evaluation and certificates
There are different titles that students acquire after graduating from the respective faculty, and which, in fact, qualify them for the same job: teacher in pre-school or from first to fifth grade (ie first grade) in primary school. Thus, their diploma may state: a graduate professor of primary education, a teacher of primary education, a graduate pedagogue, a graduate professor of preschool education, a graduate educator, a graduate educator of preschool children. According to law the term teacher is used, but in university diplomas this title is found either in a modified form, as a teacher of class teaching, or as a professor of class teaching.
Subject teachers also aquire different titles in their diplomas, either teacher or professor of respective subject. At the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics there are also two-subject studies (mathematics-physics, mathematics-informatics, biology-chemistry, chemistry-physics) that train teachers to work only in primary schools. The mentioned one-subject and two-subject study programs lead to the title of graduate professor in the respective subject, and in the diploma received by the completed students of some of the two-subject studies there is also primary education (B.Sc. professor of biology-chemistry for primary education, B.Sc. professor of mathematics - informatics for primary education. This means that there is no terminological harmonization between the individual teaching faculties, as well as between the teachers' diplomas. However, it is expected that accreditation of study programs for teaching guarantee acquiring competences to graduates to apply for passing state exam after which there are granted the rigt to works as teachers in primary schools, or apply for licence to work in preschool institution.
Assessment of student achievement in subject programs is planned through tests, seminar work / project (presentation: written and oral), activity and participation during classes and final exam.
•6 Alternative training pathways
Based on the Laws on Primary, Secondary and Higher Education as well as the statutes of the state universities and the rulebooks for internal relations and operation of the university units, the basic provisions, enrollment and organization of pedagogical retraining of persons who have completed the first cycle of studies at non-teaching faculties, and are preparing for educational work in primary and secondary education is regulated. This pedagogical-psychological and methodological preparation arises from the legal right of the faculties that prepare class teachers, in addition to the studies of the first, second and third cycle of studies, to be able to organize professional development within the concept of lifelong learning.
The study program for further pedagogical qualification is organized for a period of one semester at the Pedagogical Faculties in Skopje and Bitola and Tetovo, the Faculty of Educational Sciences in Stip and the Institute of Pedagogy at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje for candidates that completed higher education in non-teaching field. This program grants 30 ECTS credits, after which the person obtains a certificate. Within the state universities, the additional pedagogical qualification, in addition to the Macedonian language of instruction, is performed in Albanian and Turkish language at the Pedagogical Faculties in Skopje and Tetovo.
The study program for acquiring pedagogical-psychological and methodological preparation consists of:
- three compulsory courses (pedagogy, psychology and methodology);
- two elective courses (from the offered courses: school docimology, school organization, ethics in education, methodology of educational work, pedagogical communication and intercultural and multicultural education) and
- 45 days compulsory practical classes (with a total of 45 teaching hours) which the candidate conducts in the basic , ie high schools.
The compulsory courses from the study program account for a total of 15 ECTS credits (each course separately for 5 ECTS credits), while the elective courses have a total of 8 ECTS credits (or 4 ECTS credits per subject). The realization of the practical teaching is 7 ECTS credits. The passing of the compulsory and elective courses is performed continuously, through the established forms in higher education.
The obligatory practical teaching in the study program for additional pedagogical qualification is realized under the guidance of a teacher-mentor from the school and a professor-mentor from the faculty, where the candidate attends classes in the respective subjects, gets acquainted with the organization and work in the school and participates in the realization of numerous activities that take place in the school. The candidate is obliged to keep a diary for the realized activities, and in the first two weeks after the completion of the practical work he/she is obliged to realize 6 hours, of which 3 hours - critical review of the observed classes and 3 hours of independently realized classes under the supervision of a professor -mentor and teacher-mentor.