Investing in teachers

Type Book
Title Investing in teachers
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Australia’s investments in teacher development have reflected global priorities and an evolving
understanding of what is required to deliver quality education in developing countries. From the
1990s to 2010, the global education priority was access, aligned with the second Millennium
Development Goal (MDG). As a result of global efforts, two-thirds more children were enrolled
in primary school in 2012 than in 1999.1 There was a consequent increase in the demand for
teachers, with an additional 1.6 million required globally by 2015 to achieve ‘education for all’.2
Since 2010, concern for education quality has gained prominence. The United Nations
Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has estimated that 250 million
children worldwide are not attaining basic literacy and numeracy skills from schooling.3
Strategies such as the World Bank’s Learning for All4 have highlighted the link between quality
schooling, a skilled workforce, employability and economic growth.
World Bank and other research indicate that ‘teacher effectiveness is the most important
school-based predictor of student learning’5, yet investing in teachers is not well-evidenced,
especially in developing countries.6 There are no roadmaps for how best to invest in teachers
to deal with the substantial challenges the education sector faces in developing countries in
Asia and the Pacific. Some of these challenges are that:
> education may not be a priority in national budgets and it can be difficult to argue the case
for teacher development, especially when the benefits may take years to become evident
> teacher salaries may already consume a large proportion of the education budget (for
example, 90 per cent in Bangladesh, 87 per cent in Laos and 72 per cent in Vanuatu)
> allocation of funding, teachers and principals to schools may be driven by political and
opportunistic considerations rather than need (in particular, urban schools are easier to
resource than remote rural schools, and they are more visible to large constituencies)
> education policies, including curriculum requirements and expectations of teachers, may be
evolving and have internal contradictions
> governments may have little control or oversight of teacher education and training
> large numbers of untrained teachers may already be working in schools
> education supervisors and principals may have no incentive to support teachers in obtaining
formal qualifications, especially if this would remove them from classrooms while they are
studying or receiving training
> teacher absenteeism may be high due to inadequate incentives, poor management or lack of
> teaching may be difficult (especially if classes are over-sized), underpaid, undervalued and
perceived as a low-status profession
Executive summary
2 | Investing in Teachers
› teaching undergraduates may use their qualification as a pathway to other professions,
especially if teachers’ college is one of the few tertiary education options in a country
(for example, Vanuatu).7
Investing in Teachers evaluates DFAT’s experience responding to challenges such as these,
with partner governments, other donors and implementing organisations who share Australia’s
interest in improving education quality through teacher development.

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