Teacher Development in Crisis
Unless teachers in fragile and poor countries receive quality professional development, the Millenium Development Goal of universal primary education may be unattainable.
March 14, 2013 by James Lawrie, Save the Children, and Mary Burns, Escola Superior de Educação de Paula Frassinetti
6 minutes read
Credit: GPE/Deepa Srikantaiah, 2012

How Can We Give Teachers in Fragile Countries the Learning They Want and Need?

Teacher professional development is in crisis – particularly in the world’s poorest and most fragile countries. Research shows that teachers across the globe receive professional development that they do not value and that they believe has little impact. Yet, research also shows that sustained and intensive professional development improves a teacher’s knowledge and skills and does have a positive impact on students’ learning outcomes. Without a “good” teacher, the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education for all may remain unattained.

Teachers don’t receive quality training

Despite a global need for quality teachers, the majority of the world’s teachers receive professional development that does little to promote quality teaching. For many teachers from around the globe, the frequency of professional development is episodic, the quality varies, its duration is limited, and support or follow-up are almost non-existent.

In the world’s poorest and most fragile countries teachers who need the highest-quality professional development and support often receive the least. Ineffective professional development systems that exist in many countries fail teachers and in turn fail students.

How do we begin to address this crisis? How can we begin to support teachers with effective training and development – particularly those in the most challenging working conditions? What ideas and practices from around the globe have proven worth in dealing with professional development in fragile environments? How can technology play a role in this?

These are the topics we are discussing in the online forum Teacher Professional Development in Crisis. We invite you to share your thoughts. Click here to join this online forum on teacher development and participate using twitter #TPDinCrisis.

About the Teacher Professional Development in Crisis Forum

To begin to address this crisis, the International Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) has launched a three-month online special forum. The online forum brings together international experts, practitioners, and teachers from the North and South to address what we see as the overall poor quality of professional development provided to so many teachers around the world.

The forum will help build an online community and movement around research, ideas, and strategies so that teachers everywhere get high-quality professional development – and not just training that’s either cheap or convenient. From February to April 2013, 18 online articles and discussions from internationally recognized specialists in professional teacher development will discuss:

  • Problems and solutions in teacher professional development
  • Best practices, case studies and models of effective professional development supported by research
  • Ways forward to bring high-quality professional development to teachers across the globe, with an emphasis on developing countries and low-income environments

During February, discussions have focused on the role and value of school leadership, ICT in education the use of broadcast media, and professional development in Lebanon.

In March and April participants will engage in discussions on the use of open educational resources, South Sudanese teachers’ experiences, participatory and creative approaches, the case of DR Congo, and implementing professional learning.

The final blog of the 18-article series will discuss next steps for the international community as we move forward to address this crisis in Teacher Professional Development.


  • Burns, M. (2007, October). Assessing teachers’ professional development needs: Data from four Indian states. Bangalore, India: Education Development Center, Inc.
  • Guskey, T. (2002) Professional Development and Teacher Change. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 8. Available: http://tinyurl.com/b85dyzj
  • OECD, (2008). Creating effective teaching and learning environments: First result s from TALIS. Paris, FR: OECD. Available: http://tinyurl.com/arcbnrt
  • Showers, B. & Joyce, (1996, March). The evolution of peer coaching. Educational Leadership, 53 (6) 12-18. Available: http://bit.ly/12cyCl2
  • Timperley, H. (2008) Teacher professional learning and development. International Bureau of Education / UNESCO. Available: http://tinyurl.com/2bzzjgc
  • Wei, R. C., Darling-Hammond, L., and Adamson, F. (2010). Professional development in the United States: Trends and challenges. Dallas, TX: Learning Forward.

We hope you’ll get involved in helping children learn and grow, and join our conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Related blogs


This is a test comment to check if Mary receives an email to alert her that it's posted.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • Global and entity tokens are replaced with their values. Browse available tokens.
  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.