29.09.2014 - UNESCO Office in Santiago

Carlos Eugenio Beca, coordinator of the technical body of the UNESCO Regional Strategy on Teachers: “We must prioritize a policy that truly improves the quality of teaching throughout the education system”

Photo: UNESCO/Andres Pascoe

The UNESCO Regional Strategy on Teachers analyses the critical points in teacher training in Latin America

Speaking at a conference on the improvement of teachers’ work lives and the challenges of teaching and teacher training in contexts of vulnerability, Carlos Eugenio Beca, an expert at the Universidad Católica de Chile Centre for Studies on Education Practices and Policies (CEPPE) and coordinator of the technical body of the UNESCO Regional Strategy on Teachers, opened the 6th Ibero-American Teaching Congress on 23 September.

The event, which received the support of UNESCO, was held at the Universidad Católica Silva Henríquez in Santiago de Chile. National and<a name="_GoBack"></a> international experts, representatives of the Chilean Ministry of Education, and other attendees participated in the three-day meeting.

At the opening conference, Beca spoke of the critical issues in pre-service teacher training and the key challenges generated by this situation in guaranteeing a high quality, relevant education for everyone - one of the principal goals of the UNESCO Regional Strategy on Teachers. This means that we must “prioritize a policy that truly improves the quality of teaching throughout the education system, which implies a systematic outlook and a decision to invest resources commensurate with the scale of the problem”, the expert said.

Critical points in teacher training in Latin America

Carlos Eugenio Beca spoke of the critical issues that emerged from the State of the Art published by the UNESCO Regional Strategy. Amongst these points, he spoke of the low levels of education in teaching studies in Latin America and the Caribbean; poor quality in teacher training programmes and processes in the region; and the need for teacher training personnel to enhance their knowledge and experience of school contexts.

The State of the Art also highlights the need to improve teachers’ training in order to achieve learning outcomes in disadvantaged social groups; given that teacher training is provided under a generally “universalist” methodology. A tension also exists between the logic of theoretical knowledge and skills in handling the practical tools used to provide good teaching. Another critical issue centres on insufficient state regulation of teacher training programmes, leading training options in the region’s countries to develop out of step with the needs of the school system, with no accreditation in most countries - so future teachers graduate without having acquired the necessary skills.

In order to face these challenges, the UNESCO Regional Strategy on Teachers recommends actions to encourage stronger candidates to opt for a career in teaching, increasing the entry requirements for professional training courses; strengthening the quality of teacher training programmes; provision of quality training that is relevant to the work of teaching amongst disadvantaged social groups; and ensuring the application of suitable systems to regulate the quality of training programmes and their graduates.

All of these guidelines are accompanied with others more closely related to continuous professional development and training, policy orientations on the teaching career and how education policies and constructed and implemented both in general and, more specifically, with regard to the teaching sectors, with medium- and long-term objectives, participation of society stakeholders in the creation of public policies to generate solid national consensus that is then implemented by a public institutional framework that is able to design, implement, monitor, and evaluate these policies.

More information:

The UNESCO Regional Strategy on Teachers

The strategy is implemented with the support of its technical body based at the Universidad Católica de Chile Centre for Studies on Education Practices and Policies (CEPPE). A State of the Art was prepared between 2011 and 2012, and guidelines were drawn up for the preparation of teaching policies in the region’s countries. These efforts have been made thanks to contributions from leading Latin American experts and discussion in inter-institutional groups in eight countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago).

During later years the Strategy moved into its second phase, going into greater depth reflecting on specific topics such as curriculum dimensions and standards in pre-service training, collaborative learning strategies for professional development, teacher assessment, and institutional and economic aspects of teaching policies. Relevant teaching policy experiences implemented in the region’s different countries have also been compiled. In order to address the issues raised, four dimensions have emerged: pre-service teacher training; continuous professional development and training; the teaching career and working conditions; and public policy creation institutions and processes for the teaching sector.  The Strategy is now into its third phase, working in collaboration with a number of countries to put the guidelines that have been developed into practice.

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