An Almost Invisible ‘Difficult Circumstance’: The Large Class

  • Hywel Coleman
Part of the International Perspectives on English Language Teaching book series (INPELT)


In many contexts, ‘large classes’ are associated with emotional stress, physical exhaustion and professional frustration, yet teachers are often left to fend for themselves in addressing class size issues. Education policymakers and managers, because of the widespread use of the teacher:pupil ratio (TPR), do not appreciate the class size reality that many teachers and learners experience. Case studies in two Asian and six African countries show that official TPRs are often very different from the actual class sizes which teachers experience. It is not an exaggeration to say that official statistics obscure—or make invisible—the true class size conditions that teachers have to face.



I am grateful to the editors of this book and to Dr. Dwi Winanto Hadi of the Centre for Education Data and Statistics in the Ministry of Education and Culture, Indonesia, for their comments on an earlier draft of this chapter. I am also grateful to Godefroy Gaméné and Arnauld Aguidissou for permission to use the photographs from Burkina Faso and Benin, respectively.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hywel Coleman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LeedsLeedsUK

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