25.11.2013 - Education Sector

Good management of teacher education keeps children in school

UNESCO

The central role of teacher education management will be the focus of an international forum that will take place in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, from 25-29 November.

Titled “The Management of Teacher Education – Trends in Policies and Practice: what works, why and for whom?” the forum will involve 200 participants from policy makers to researchers and teachers.

Worldwide, 1.58 million new teachers are required to meet Universal Primary Education by 2015. The shortage of well trained and motivated teachers is of particular concern in Africa, notably in Sub-Saharan Africa where 902 000 additional teachers are needed to reach the target (source: UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, 2013). “The challenge goes beyond numbers – more teachers must mean better quality learning, through appropriate training and support,” recalls the joint, UNESCO, ILO, UNDP, UNICEF and EI, message this World Teachers’ Day, 5 October 2013.

“Given the fact that the quality of an education system cannot exceed that of its teachers, it is imperative for governments and education stakeholders to take concerted efforts to improve the status of teachers and teaching,” says Dennis Sinyolo, co-ordinator, Education International's Education and Employment Unit, in charge of early childhood education, primary and secondary education programmes.

Every child has the right to good quality education; the shortage of qualified and motivated teachers is a major impediment to this right. For too many children, more schooling has not resulted in more knowledge and skills. “Evidence from Voluntary Service Overseas International’s ‘Valuing Teachers’ research in 14 low-income countries indicates that… existing programmes of teacher education and training have failed to provide new teachers with the necessary skills and knowledge to work effectively,” says Purna Shrestha, Education Policy and Advocacy Adviser, VSO International. Based on the Global Campaign for Education’s 2012 teacher report, Monique Fouilhoux explains “far too often, quality and equity are sacrificed in order to deliver some form of schooling. But there is no short-cut to quality education and learning”.

The forum will look at the continuous process of learning through initial teacher education, professional development and self-study. “The learning and training materials for teachers can be greatly improved by using the feedback of pre-service students' on their training needs and by following up on graduate teachers in their classrooms and undertaking an impact assessment of their initial training and determine what kinds of improvements need to be made to the training Programmes and curricula,” says Professor Muhammad Ibn Junaid, Executive Secretary,National Commission for Colleges of Education, Nigeria.

Supportive learning environments for student teachers, including measures such as, scholarships, day care for female student teachers and exchange programs will be studied. “It is fundamental to consider, the context in which education takes place. Developing a critical mass of teachers who will make a difference requires a multitude of efforts, strategies, resources and support,” says Paul R. Carr, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Lakehead University, Orillia.

The forum will also look at good working conditions for practicing teachers including decent salaries, paid study leave, promotional opportunities and recognition. “Working and employment conditions for teachers matter. As the Joint ILO/UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations concerning Teaching Personnel noted at its Session in 2012, attracting, recruiting and retaining good quality teachers requires decent salaries and working conditions,” recalls Oliver Liang, Education sector specialist, Sectoral Activities Department, International Labour Office.

57 million children of primary school age are currently out of school. A significant proportion of these out-of-school children live in countries affected by war and natural disasters. It is increasingly recognized that education must be a principal part of any humanitarian response. The forum will also make recommendations on the management of teacher education in Post Conflict and Post Disaster contexts where teacher education management should not be limited to short-term responses but lay the foundations for sustainable recovery and long-term development.

The International Task Force on Teachers for Education for All has built its work on a principle of promoting better coordination of global and regional efforts aiming to develop and reinforce national teacher policies that will enhance the performance and progress of education systems in addressing acute shortage of qualified teachers.




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