The learning crisis is a teaching crisis

The Knowledge and Innovation Exchange discussion paper "Improving Teaching and Learning", highlights challenges and opportunities in this area. Learn what the six areas of potential investments are.

September 30, 2019 by Edward Davis, Global Partnership for Education, and Kyoko Yoshikawa Iwasaki, GPE Secretariat
5 minutes read
A Spanish teacher at Tchaourou School in Parakou, Benin. The school has 116 teachers and about 1500 students.
A Spanish teacher at Tchaourou School in Parakou, Benin. The school has 116 teachers and about 1500 students.
Credit: GPE/Chantal Rigaud

This blog is the fifth in a six-part series on the KIX discussion papers commissioned by the GPE Secretariat to inform the design and implementation of the GPE Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX). The post highlights relevant thematic outcomes in the 2019 Results Report and insights from GPE’s ongoing country-level evaluations.

Good teachers and effective teaching inspired by the best leadership are the heart of the learning process and the single most important school-based factor for improving learning and equity in education outcomes. This is why teaching and learning is a priority area for GPE and therefore the  GPE Knowledge and Innovation Exchange.  

For all children to enroll and learn effectively in schools, it is essential to recruit enough effective teachers; provide them with the right professional learning before and after starting their careers; deploy the best teachers where they are needed the most; manage their performance to build professionalism and continuous improvement; and incentivize the best to remain in the classroom teaching.

This sounds straightforward but the challenge is huge.

UNESCO estimates that nearly 70 million additional quality teachers need to be recruited to meet the Sustainable Development Goal for quality education.

How GPE supports teachers and teaching

GPE is already prioritizing investments in teachers and teaching. In 2018, all GPE implementation grants included support to teachers, totaling US$237 million.

However, the poorest countries are struggling to recruit enough quality teachers. The GPE results framework indicator 12 tracks the proportion of countries with a Pupil to Trained Teacher Ratio below 40 at the primary level. Results Report 2019 shows that 70% of GPE partner developing countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, still have more than 40 students per trained teacher at this level.

Findings from GPE’s evaluations in selected countries indicate that teacher training has been strengthened in many countries, but concerns remain with its quality and the variation in what constitutes a trained teacher.

Indicator 11 of the GPE results framework tracks the equity of teacher allocation. The Results Report 2019 shows teacher allocation is inequitable and inefficient in most of the partner countries where there is data. In addition, the best teachers are not where they are needed the most: helping marginalized students match the learning outcomes of their peers.

The neediest populations remain underserved, and many countries struggle to attract enough effective teachers to rural areas. GPE’s country-level evaluations indicate that more focused efforts are needed in this area.

KIX prioritizes teachers and teaching

The evidence on what works to improve teaching and learning and models for effective classroom practices is growing, but there is a need for more support for developing countries to extend this research, adapt it and apply it appropriately to specific contexts and at scale.

The Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX) discussion paper Improving Teaching and Learning maps challenges and existing global public goods, highlighting gaps and opportunities.  Six areas of potential investments are detailed:  

1. Improving teacher and teaching data and its use

Different types of qualitative and quantitative data on teachers are provided by a range of global and national institutions. Investments through KIX could support collating and aggregating the data provided by different organizations for each of the partner countries and explore demand for additional country-level data for understanding teacher and teaching quality issues.

2. Supporting teacher recruitment, selection and retention

There are education systems where recruitment and selection practices could be strengthened to increase accountability and transparency and improve the quality of teachers recruited. Some partner countries have designed and implemented interventions that result in merit-based selection of teachers, which could be evaluated to identify and share practices that attract and retain the teachers who teach most effectively. There is also potential to develop innovative solutions to use effective leaders and teachers differently and more effectively in contexts where there is high-teacher shortage (including in fragile and conflict-affected areas).

3. Supporting teacher accountability, incentives and rewards

Sharing of practices for expanding professionalism and motivating teachers at scale along with a review of current evidence could be supported through KIX. Additionally, there is potential to identify or pilot innovative solutions to address issues related to accountability, incentives and rewards.

4. Supporting teacher preparation and professional learning

Low levels of subject-specific knowledge and effective pedagogy are areas where teachers require support in most partner countries. The evidence for what works at scale to rapidly improve subject knowledge and how to support teachers effectively to improve classroom practice is growing. The challenge is now how to implement effective models of teacher professional learning at scale and monitor the impact they have on learning.

5. Supporting enabling school and system factors for effective teaching

School-based factors, including culture and leadership, are key elements in facilitating effective teaching. In low resource contexts some partner countries have managed to work on these factors and others could benefit from the transfer of knowledge and practices that work. With regards to teacher development, school-based solutions have been tried in different contexts, with room for more innovation. This would be an important area of study, especially for investing in sustainable models for teacher development.

6. Supporting finance, planning and deployment

Investment through KIX could learn from countries that have designed and implemented interventions to address technical and political barriers. With deployment of teachers in areas where they are needed the most remaining a persistent challenge, there is a need to explore solutions and innovations that sustainably attract, incentivize and retain the best teachers to the locations and grades where they are needed the most.

As the proposals for the KIX global call are submitted by October 1st - and the regional grant proposals in April/May 2020 – it will be exciting to see how KIX investments provide opportunities for tangible capacity development, research support, and innovative practices to help countries improve the quality of teaching and effectiveness of teachers.

Additionally, the KIX Regional Hubs will provide an opportunity for countries to learn from their peers on innovative approaches that have improved teaching standards and accelerated students’ progress in learning.

Read the other blogs in this series:

  1. What GPE does to strengthen early childhood care and education
  2. Strengthening data systems through investing in knowledge and innovation
  3. How to improve education quality? Make learning assessment systems better
  4. What we need to know and do to make education fairer and more inclusive

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Learning crisis is a teaching crisis is really one of the best blogs I've read in a while.
I really like to read this kind of amazing article.
Thank you!
Thank you

A crucial element in the training of teachers is whether, in cases in which they teach in a second language, they have been trained to do so. I am fairly familiar with teacher education in sub-Saharan Africa. In very few teacher edcuation institutions here are teachers trained to teach their subject in a second language: most initial training institutions (ITE) are entirely unfamiliar with the idea. They train their trainees as if their learners will be fluent in the language of the classroom. When these trainees are met with learners who cannot easily understand them, read their textbooks or talk or write in the second language, these teachers do not know what to do. Pedagogy in teaching subjects in a second language is a distinct pedagogy, very different from conventional pedagogy. ITE institutions need to be thoroughly familiar with it. The same thing could be said about multilingual learning: ITE institutions either do not know about it or are forbidden by local education authority policy to use their learners' first languages in the classroom (despite the fact that code-switching - normally forbidden - is necessary and common in the classroom if any serious understanding is to take place. 

The lack of expertise or even interest in either the pedagogy of teaching in a seond language or learning in more than one language leads directly to the kind of low achievement and dropout with which we are familiar in sub-Saharan Africa and any other context in which education is conducted in a language which learners cannot properly use as a medium of instruction. It is not only ITE institutions which are at fault here, but also, with respect, global stakeholders such as yourselves, who persist in not paying attention to this very powerful determinant of low school achievement in low-resource countries in which education is conducted in a language which learners do not master. 

very nice and great.thanks for this

Pour nous ,nous pensons que l'engagement et la mobilisation des parents d’élevés sur la question de qualité et performance dans les pays du sud est   très crucial.
Au sens où ils peuvent booster la qualité de l'enseignement et la performance des enseignants favorisant ainsi l'apprentissage.

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