The UNESCO Teachers Task Force is a voluntary global alliance that includes national governments, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, international development agencies, civil society organizations, private sector organizations and UN agencies.
They work together to address the teacher gap, as well as implement and monitor Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 4.c to “substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries”.
Policy Dialogue Forum 2018 in Jamaica
In November 2018, GPE supported the UNESCO Teachers Task Force to organize the 11th Policy Dialogue Forum of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Focused on strengthening teacher education, this annual forum brought together almost 300 national and international stakeholders, including government focal points on teachers from nearly 30 partner developing countries. Among others, participants included representatives from UNESCO, UNICEF, ILO, DFID, NORAD, EI and officials from Ghana, Bangladesh, Togo, Benin, Eritrea, Lesotho, Lao PDR, and other countries.
With the aim of sharing knowledge on policy solutions to provide a quality education, the forum provided a stimulating environment to stocktake current teacher education programs and exchange good practices on teacher‐related gaps.
The forum was organized around four sub-themes:
- Knowledge, skills and competencies for teacher development
- Teacher training: skills and competencies for work
- Promoting equal learning opportunities for all through teacher education
- Teacher education: Digital learning and continuing professional development.
GPE supports knowledge sharing on what works for teachers
GPE participated in the forum in the following ways:
- In collaboration with NORRAG, led the sub-theme 3, ‘Promoting equal learning opportunities for all through teacher education’. This session provided a unique platform for officials from education ministries, researchers and donors to come together and discuss issues related to teacher education from different vantage points. Key findings from this session are discussed below in the conference take-aways section.
- Along with the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS), GPE co-hosted the session “Developing a taxonomy of teacher education and training programs” that shared findings and from the ongoing stocktake of GPE’s investments in initial teacher education and professional development. The session sought feedback from attendees on the relevance and usefulness of developing a comparative framework on teacher training. The participants echoed the importance of this initiative and gave feedback on how to strengthen the framework.
- Introduced the Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX) mechanism, and shared challenges and gaps in global goods in the area of teaching and learning. The participants were consulted on potential global good investments in teaching and learning. Attendees showed interest in measuring teacher and teaching quality, teacher absenteeism and teacher supply and suggested tools for social dialogue between teachers and the government as a potential area for investment.
- GPE participated in meetings organized by the Teachers Task Force, provided strategic and technical guidance.
Teacher education and teachers continuous professional development have a profound impact on students’ outcomes. If teachers don’t have access to sustained learning opportunities throughout their career, they won’t be able to meet the needs of all learners.
To improve teacher education, a clear teacher policy framework should be established and there should be an adequate allocation of resources and a strong policy dialogue between policy makers and practitioners.
The panelists at the conference provided recommendations for teacher education programs based on good practices from countries with better learning outcomes. For instance, it was shared that teachers in Vietnam have the requisite subject knowledge and track student work and progress on a day-to-day basis.
Other panelists recommended providing diversity training to teachers as part of teacher education programs and recruit more diverse and representative groups of individuals into teaching. It was also suggested that qualified teachers need to be allocated to early grades and not just to secondary grades, which is the current norm.
To improve teacher quality, it was also recommended that teacher education programs should focus on providing training to teach foundational skills in early grades and assess children’s learning level. On promoting gender equity, it was recommended to observe teacher practices in classrooms and provide feedback on how teacher could ensure gender equity.
The attendees at the conference noted the importance on improving the value and status of the teaching profession to support teacher quality and equipping teachers with content, training and tools to deal with diverse classrooms and address socio-emotional needs of students.
The importance of availability of disaggregated data was also highlighted for teachers to address learning needs of students and early identification of students at risk.
The conference culminated in an outcome statement which urged governments to “ensure adequate financing for all public goods, including the teacher workforce, and this should be achieved primarily through domestic resource mobilization…”
In the statement participants also agreed to “intensify efforts to develop robust definitions and classifications of qualified teachers and strengthen cooperation and reporting mechanisms to ensure full monitoring of SDG target 4.c”.
Following the conference, the UIS in cooperation with GPE, Education International and the Teachers Task Force, will launch a new initiative to develop a classification framework to develop robust definitions and classifications of qualified and trained teachers, comparable at the global level.
At the national level, this framework will strengthen collection and use of data on teacher training and qualification to facilitate teacher mobility.