Fostering Teachers’ Capacity for Effective Learning in a Digital Age

The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers. A successful education reform is therefore mainly about enabling and encouraging teachers to perform optimally in the classroom, be more conscientious and motivated and eager to seek professional development on a regular basis. It becomes necessary in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, for teachers to equip themselves well to handle the emerging challenges of diversity, first generation learners and multilingual contexts in the classroom, juxtaposed with new curricular demands.

Teachers have a pre-eminent role in the provision of quality education and this is recognised by both the Dakar Framework for Action (World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal in 2000) and the Kigali Statement (Regional Ministerial Conference in Kigali, Rwanda 2015). In line with ensuring teacher quality and quantity, the nine countries covered by UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA), have made substantive progress in recruiting more teachers into the profession since the year 2000.  

Specifically in Namibia, through the UNESCO/China Funds-in-Trust project “Capacity Development for Quality in Pre- and Lower Primary Teacher Education in Namibia” significant strides have been made regarding the professional development of pre- and lower primary in-service teachers as well as the teacher education faculty who are training the next generation of teachers. This was achieved through a two year country-wide inter-institutional action research initiative.

To fully understand the range of teacher-related challenges that Southern African countries face, a regional conference on Improving Quality of Teachers was organized in cooperation with the Government of Mozambique in August 2015.

Among the priority recommendations to strengthen the teaching profession are:

  • Teacher policies development and/or review, with dissemination and sharing in teacher policy-related issues (sub regionally, regionally and South-South)
  • Research on teaching and learning practices
  • Capacity building of education personnel, education managers and decision-makers based on research evidence
  • Review of teacher education curricula and development of relevant materials
  • Support to Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programs for teacher education
  • Advocacy

To follow up on the policy-related recommendation, a follow-up workshop was held in Zambia in November 2015. The objectives of the workshop were:

  1. To have a clear understanding on how to develop a national Teacher Policy that addresses a range of issues including recruitment, pre- and in-service training, equitable deployment, working conditions and motivation, inter alia;
  2. To discuss ways and means to consolidate SADC member country policies into a regional Teachers’ Policy and plan of action; and,
  3. To form a Regional Task Team to develop regional standards for Teacher Education. 

A concrete recommendation of the workshop is the formation of two expert groups that will focus on 1) developing standards/competencies framework and 2) developing a SADC Regional Teacher Policy Framework, respectively.

UNESCO's work in the region will therefore focus on following up the recommendations coming from these two meetings. 

 

Resources

Ensuring Quality Education through Quality Teachers - Report of the Southern Africa Regional Conference on Teachers (English version)

Ensuring Quality Education through Quality Teachers - Report of the Southern Africa Regional Conference on Teachers (Portuguese Version)

Capacity Development for Quality in Pre- and Lower Primary Teacher Education in Namibia - 2014 Research Report 

Capacity Development for Quality in Pre- and Lower Primary Teacher Education in Namibia - 2015 Research Report 

National ECD Advocacy Workshop in Namibia 

 

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