31.01.2013 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Teacher diagnostic studies in Africa: challenges identified to improve the process

Participants at the workshop on teacher diagnostic studies © UNESCO

A UNESCO meeting on 21-23 January 2013 in Saly, Senegal analyzed the complex challenges inherent in devising sound teacher policies.

Ten countries -- Benin, Burundi, Congo, Guinea, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger and Uganda -- have engaged in teacher diagnostic studies but so far, Benin, Lesotho and Burundi have completed their studies and valides their reports. And only Benin is currently working on study conclusions and recommendations to come up with a teacher policy document.

Three recommendations were identified during the meeting:

  • The necessity to implement national coordination structures that carry on the exercise at the highest political level,
  • Transparent and sustainable funding, including countries’ efforts to mobilize the resources needed to produce the studies, and
  • Technical assistance to enhance national expertise. 

“These recommendations will help us moving forward, as we know where to focus our support,” says Jean Adotevi, responsible for the teacher issue at UNESCO Dakar.

Teachers: the key to quality education

Adotevi highlights that the diagnostic studies and consequently formulated teacher policies will contribute to solve, in a sustainable way, the tricky issue of quality teaching and learning.

"It enables countries to find appropriate strategies to better cope with the teaching workforce in a pacified climate – as long as social dialogue mechanisms are reinforced and reliable," he adds.

In addition to representatives from the ten countries, participants also included UNESCO experts on teacher issues from its headquarters in Paris, the Bamako, Maputo and Windhoek Offices, as well as the International Task Force on Teachers for EFA.

Need one million new teachers

According to UIS data, sub-Saharan Africa needs one million new teachers. It also shows that 50% of teachers in duty are not or under qualified.

UNESCO Dakar provides technical support to teacher policy reform or formulation as an attempt to improve this situation. A methodological guide is available to help countries conducting teacher diagnosis studies.

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