|Global Co-ordination > Working Group on Education for All >|
|First meeting / Document 11|
Teachers and the Quality of Education
what we understand by quality raises all the fundamental questions
concerning the purpose of education. It is not surprising
that the answers given to this question vary greatly.
International focusing on quality in education must start
with the learner. Quality must focus on the child's experiences
of schooling and what that experience enables the child to
achieve. There can be no quality without access.
on quality also has the potential to bring back the teacher
into the centre of the debate. If education is important this
also means that teachers are important.
are many difficulties in measuring and evaluating quality
in ways that will allow must complex and sensitive use of
the concept. Some attempts to quantify quality may risk undermining
the very thing they claim to support
good can come out of focusing on quality?
on quality in education may have several positive outcomes for
teachers. First of all the fact that quality in education is
discussed is indirectly a way of recognising that education
is important. Now it is recognised that education is one of
the most important factors, which will affect the development
of a country.
on quality has to relate to teachers. Education is to a large
extent a matter of a learning process, which takes place through
the interaction between teacher and student. When this process
works well, real learning will take place. A very natural conclusion
is that quality education requires quality teachers. This highlights
the significance of acknowledging teaching as a profession,
rather than as something anyone can do. These links the discussion
on quality in education to how the recruitment of teachers can
be improved which links the discussion to teachers working conditions
and pay. If society would like to provide high quality education
there is a need to attract the best students to teacher education
and to maintain qualified teachers in the education system.
are the risks?
there are no developments, which do not contain both opportunities
and risks, and that is certainly true for the discussion on
quality in education. Demands on improved quality in education
are often combined with demands on quality control. As mentioned
above there is no generally accepted definition on quality,
which makes the quality control rather difficult. The tendencies
we can observe in many school systems is an increased emphasise
on tests and school inspections. None of these in itself is
a bad thing, but when performed in excess and combined with
other measures the results could be damaging.
would like to have quality education for their children and
for some parents the way to get it is to have the right to pick
and choose schools. If this right is combined with making test
results public and publishing of ranking lists of schools there
is an obvious risk that social segregation in schools increases
is recognised that the teacher plays a crucial role in improving
the quality one question which might occupy politicians is how
to reward those they regard as the really good teachers. For
some the answer to this question is performance pay. Performance
pay has been discussed in the education sector for a long time
and the problem has always been how to measure good performance
without rewarding or punishing teachers only because they have
been teaching a certain group of students. Most teacher unions
have clearly opposed any move in direction of performance pay,
but in some countries unions have accepted elements of performance
pay in the pay structure under certain conditions.
role of teacher unions
Teachers unions have been involved in both professional and
industrial issues with greater emphasis on one or other at difficult
teacher organisations must focus on quality education in order
to protect and to improve the situation of their members. The
question is how quality education can become an integral part
of teacher unions' strategy.
element in a union strategy is to clearly establish the link
between the investment made in education and the quality you
get. Quality can not be achieved through decreasing resources
allocated to education. In many countries investment in school
equipment and buildings has been neglected during recent decades.
If governments like to have quality they must also be prepared
to regard the amount of resources invested in education as a
part of the measures needed. But it is not enough just to invest
in education, it is also crucial to make the right investments.
freedom of teachers is of crucial importance in developing quality
in education. Professional freedom does not mean that the teacher
can do whatever he or she likes, but that the teacher, who knows
the students, is the person best equipped to decide which methods
to use in order to create an optimal learning situation.
working conditions are also closely related to their students'
learning conditions. A school environment allowing teachers
to do a good job will automatically improve the learning conditions
for the students.
of the factors affecting the academic achievement of school
children conclude that the influence of issues such as the education
of the teacher is of great importance. The significance of improving
teacher education and the importance of seeing that all teachers
have an appropriate qualification and training cannot be overemphasised.
is a lifelong commitment. Human knowledge continually expands
and environments are constantly evolving. Quality in-service
training is a fundamental right. Continuous professional development
is of crucial importance in maintaining the level of teachers'
education and retaining them in the profession. To improve
the quality of education, teachers must be supported in their
efforts to develop themselves professionally.
research must be strengthened as an instrument to improve the
quality of education, and the results of such research should
be communicated to teachers in a more effective manner. There
must also be opportunities for teachers to broaden their skills
and knowledge in order to be qualified in other subjects, at
other levels in the education system and to participate in research
are to provide quality education, then they must be paid fairly
and regularly and be able to feed, clothe and house themselves
and their family without doing another job
and fundamental prerequisite for students to learn is that they
are properly fed and benefit from a general good level of health
and well-being. In many countries around the world this is a
real problem. Even if the students come to school, they cannot
concentrate on their studies if they are hungry. Introducing
school meals could in some countries be a step towards reducing
dropout due to malnutrition and ill-health.
the last decade or so, we have witnessed explosive technological
progress in the World. Used properly, new technologies are a
powerful aid in developing students' skills and knowledge. Information
and communication technologies can and should be used as educational
tools in all subjects. There is a risk that the introduction
of new technologies will further increase the gap between the
North and the South. A serious effort to avoid this development
must be made and is the joint responsibility of governments
quality education is one that produces high levels of literacy
and numeracy. But it must also be one that increases knowledge
about the needs and demands of our societies that quote Universal
Declaration on Human Rights.
shall be directed to the full development of the human personality
and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship
among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further
the activities of the United nations for the maintenance of
issues such as environmental problems, AIDS/HIV, violence, the
growing threats against democracy through increasing racism
and xenophobia must be reflected in today's education.
above, is the question how to measure quality a central question.
This question is related to the discussions on evaluation, assessment
and appraisal, which have been raised in many countries. In
these discussions there is a risk, as mentioned above, that
teachers are turned in to objects which are evaluated by others.
The growing interest for school self-evaluation, which has been
manifested in many teacher union initiatives in recent years,
must be seen from this perspective. School-based evaluation
is a process through which teachers discuss the functioning
of their own school as a group of professionals in such a way
as to bring about improvement. In this way, teachers will be
able to plan different kinds of activities to improve quality
and methods of reallocating existing resources so that quality
objectives will be more readily achieved. Teachers need to be
given the training, the time and opportunity to plan and implement
evaluation activities. By offering self-evaluation as a complement
to tests and school inspections the teacher can be active contributor
within education policy instead of objects.
(Draft for the discussion)