Handbook for Teachers of Multi-grade Classes

February 1, 2001

Every child has a right to an education. Multi-grade classes and single teacher schools have made it possible for many children in remote rural areas and communities to exercise this right. These classes exist in both developing and developed countries. In countries such as Norway and France, they have worked reasonably well.
However, in many developing countries, these classes and schools often lack educational materials, appropriately trained teachers and effective supervision. The teachers rarely receive training in how
to deal with them, and are ill-prepared for managing large numbers of pupils, of different ages and levels of learning, that they confront in the classes.

If progress is to be made towards Education for All, the challenges of multi-grade classes and single teacher schools must be urgently met. Children in small communities must have access to good quality education.

To this end, in cooperation with various institutions, UNESCO conducted a series of case studies in fourteen countries namely: Australia, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, China, Korea, France, Greece, Lesotho, Mali, the Philippines, Portugal, Tanzania, Russia and Zaire. Following this experience, UNESCO, jointly with the Royal Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs in Norway, initiated a programme to enhance the effectiveness of multi-grade classes and single-teacher schools. On the basis of information gained through the case studies, an interregional workshop on “Single-Teacher Schools and Multi-grade classes” was held in Lilleham-mer, .N orway 2 to 6 September 1996.

The participants were drawn from the countries in which the studies were undertaken. Norway was considered an apt partner because of its long history of offering education in small effective schools. The participants discussed the issues of multi-grade classes and single teacher schools and decided that it was necessary to prepare a handbook based on the experiences of the countries. The two volumes of this handbook reflect the shared experiences of the workshop. They are not intended to replace existing materials in use in formal teacher education courses, but for use in the in-service training of teachers working in multi-grade schools, and as a handy daily reference book for them.

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