You can use the course glossary to help with any unfamiliar terminology.

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Frequent or habitual absence from work, without a good reason; absenteeism does not include occasional absence due to reasons beyond one’s control, such as sickness.

Appraisal (or performance appraisal or review)

A method by which a teacher’s  job  performance  is evaluated, as part of assessing teaching effectiveness and guiding and managing career progression and professional development.


The reduction of the workforce due to voluntary and involuntary terminations of employment, deaths and employee retirements.



Financial or non-financial compensation related to employment in addition to base salary, such as allowances for housing, transport, health care, insurance, retirement, day care, sick leave or other forms of social protection, funding of CPD, etc

Blended learning

A formal education programme in which a part of the content and instruction is delivered through face-to-face training methods and a part through computer-mediated activities and online media.



Joint ILO/UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the 1966 Recommendations concerning the Status of Teachers and the 1997 Recommendation Concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel, charged with monitoring and promoting the implementation of the recommendations.

Certification (teacher certification or licensing)

The process of earning qualifications or credentials and the recognition by the relevant education authority of such achievements that allows a teacher to teach in certain subject areas at a specific educational level.


See School cluster

Collective agreement

A written agreement regarding working conditions  and terms of employment concluded between  one  or  more employers or employers’ organizations, on the one hand, and one or more representative organizations of teachers or other education workers or their duly elected representatives, on the other.

Collective bargaining

All negotiations which take place between one or more employers or employers’organizations, on the one hand, and one or more organizations of teachers or other education workers or their duly elected representatives, on the other, for determining working conditions and terms of employment or for regulating relations between employers and teachers or other education workers.

Contract teachers (also known as “para” or paraprofes- sional, auxiliary, contractual or community teachers)

Teachers recruited  on a temporary,  contractual  basis,  often as a response to difficulties in recruiting sufficient numbers of qualified teachers, or to meet budgetary restraints. They are almost always less well-trained and paid, and have less job security, than permanent or civil service teachers.

CPD: Continuing/continual professional development

The ongoing professional learning process, by which teachers reflect upon, maintain and develop their professional knowledge, skills and practices.  CPD  is both  a right  and  an obligation  of all professions, including teaching, and may include formal, structured and informal, self-directed learning.



The placement or allocation of teachers to positions within an education system and across a region or nation.


The process by which highly skilled, well-trained teachers are replaced by less- or un-skilled teachers with less, minimal or no professional training, resulting in the lowering of educational standards and the status of the profession.

Direct discrimination

Less favourable treatment explicitly or implicitly based on one or more prohibited grounds, including ethnicity, race, religion, political opinion, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, national extraction, social origin (including caste), circumstances of birth or on the grounds of membership in a group or organization.


Early Childhood Education (ECE)

Education prior to compulsory education, regarded as an education in its own right and an essential part of lifelong learning, not as merely preparation for primary school. Early childhood education is referred to as level 0 on the International Standard Classification of Education.

Education for All (EFA)

The Education for All movement is a global commitment to provide quality basic education for all children, youth and adults. Governments, development agencies, civil society and the private sector are working together to reach six EFA goals by 2015.

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

An approach to education based on the principle that education is a key to promoting the values, behavior and lifestyles necessary for a sustainable future.

Education Management Information System (EMIS)

A system designed to collect, manage, process and report data about  an  education  system,   including   information  relating to schools, learners, teachers and staff; this information is an important basis for the formulation, management and evaluation of education policies.


The use of electronic educational technology or information communication technologies in learning and teaching.

Evidence-informed practice (EIP)

An approach to policy development which aims to use research, information and knowledge about practices to guide policy design and implementation, with the objective of achieving better outcomes for people and communities.


Fast Track Initiative (FTI)

See Global Partnership for Education.

Financial incentives

Additional  financial  compensation  to   base   salary  intended to encourage acceptance of work assignments in certain geographic areas or subjects, or to motivate and reward teachers or other staff for their performance.

Flexible working hours

Schedules that allow education employees to structure their work hours around their professional development or personal responsibilities, often through part-time work, job sharing or a compressed workweek.

Freedom of association

The right of workers and employers to freely establish and join organizations of their own choosing, including trade unions, without any distinction, previous authorization or interference, and subject only to the rules of the organization concerned.


General Education System Quality Analysis/Diagnosis Framework (GEQAF)

Framework to strengthen national capacity in assessing education systems, based on local knowledge and expertise, developed by UNESCO in collaboration with its Member States. The GEQAF, which contains 15 analytical tools covering key interconnected aspects of an education system, is designed to guide diagnostics/ analysis, in order to strengthen the knowledge base required to design and implement improvement interventions.

Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

A multilateral partnership, established in 2002 as the Education for  All  Fast  Track   Initiative  (EFA-FTI)   and  comprising    around

60 developing countries, donor governments, international organizations, the private sector, teachers, and civil society/NGO groups, which is devoted to getting all children in school for a good quality education .

Gross domestic product (GDP)

The primary indicator of a nation’s economic activity, and therefore wealth, GDP is the market value  of  all  final  goods and services from a nation  in a given  year.  It is calculated  as the population times market value of the goods and services produced per person in the country.


Hardship allowances

Allowances paid to teachers who work in remote, inaccessible or difficult-to-staff schools, in areas of extreme poverty or in difficult or dangerous conditions, such as conflict, post-conflict or post- disaster zones.


ICT (information and communication technologies)

Information and communication technologies, services, systems and networks which create, access, store, organise, protect, communicate and transmit information in a variety of electronic or digital forms. In education, ICT offers many tools and methods to support teaching and learning.


Financial or non-financial rewards designed to motivate individuals to accept a particular job or responsibility or to achieve certain objectives.

Indirect discrimination

Less favorable treatment which occurs when the same condition or criterion is applied to everyone, but results in a disproportionately harsh impact on some persons on the basis of characteristics such as race, language, ethnicity, colour, sex or religion.


The process of supporting a teacher to reflect on and develop their professional skills during the first few years of teaching or the first year in a particular school, through a combination of mentoring, informal support and ongoing formal training.

Initial teacher education/ training (pre-service training)

Teacher education before entering a classroom or other educational site as a fully responsible teacher.

In-service education and training (INSET, see also CPD)

The process by which teachers engage in further education or training to refresh or upgrade their professional knowledge, skills and practices in the course of their employment.

International Task Force on Teachers for Education for All

A dedicated international alliance of stakeholders, including national governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, CSOs, international development agencies and private sector organizations working together to address the teacher gap to meet the Education 2030 Agenda goals.



A type of flexible work where two people share the same employment position.


Labour unions

See Teacher unions.


See Certification.


Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)

A strategic policy and expenditure framework which balances what is affordable against policy priorities of the government, in the context of annual budget processes.


A one-to-one process between an experienced and a newly qualified teacher, whereby the former provides support, advice and informal training to the latter.

M-learning (mobile-learning)

A form of e-learning through social and content interactions using personal electronic or ‘mobile’ devices (handheld computing devices), such as smart phones, tablet computers or personal digital assistants (PDAs).

Monitoring and Evaluation

The processes of continuous, methodical collection of information to track the progress of an intervention (monitoring) and measuring, assessing and analysing change (evaluation) to assess implementation and fine-tune implementation processes, look for results and evidence of impact and demonstrate accountability.

Multi-grade teaching

A system where a single teacher is responsible for learners in two or more curriculum grades (sometimes for a whole school) at the same time.

Multi-shift teaching

Where the supply of schools  (and/or  teachers)  is inadequate to provide single shift schooling for all learners, teachers teach learners in two or more shifts; this often has a negative impact on education quality, the morale of teachers and the status of teaching in general.



A process in which two or more parties with common and conflicting interests come together and talk with a view to reaching an agreement.

Non-financial incentives

Incentives in the form of benefits. See incentives.


OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS)

A survey about the working conditions and learning environments of a representative sample of teachers and schools in each country, with the objective of providing information to help countries review and define policies for developing a high- quality teaching profession.


Paraprofessional or ‘para’ teachers

See contract teachers.

Performance review or appraisal

See appraisal.


Classroom teaching practice  during  initial  teacher  education to allow student teachers to acquire beginning teaching competencies, apply theory to practice and prepare them for the realities of teaching.

Pre-service training

See initial teacher education/training.


A fixed-duration trial period to evaluate the progress and  skills of a new employee before they enter full-time permanent employment.

Professional licensing

See certification.

Pupil-teacher ratio (PTR)

The number of pupils enrolled in school divided by the number of school teachers; the number of pupils per teacher (or average class size). PTRs are calculated by level of education (PTR primary or PTR secondary).


Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

Status awarded by the teacher certifying body of a given country, authorizing the holder to teach in state schools. Similar statuses exist in certain countries under other names.



The ability of an education  system  or  organization  to  retain its teachers or other education  staff.  The  term  may  refer  to the strategies employers adopt to retain employees in their workforce, as well as the outcome.

Returning teachers

Experienced teachers who come back to teaching after a break in their career (often to undertake family responsibilities such as bringing up children).


School clusters

Groups of schools, usually in isolated areas, which work together to share resources and to allow teachers to share experiences and professional practices, with the aim of improving their teaching materials and skills. Clusters are often served by shared teacher resource centres.

Social dialogue

All forms of information sharing, consultation and negotiation between educational authorities, public and private, and teachers and their unions/associations.

Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ)

An  international  non-profit  developmental   organization   of 15 Ministries of Education in Southern and Eastern Africa, who apply scientific methods to monitor and evaluate the conditions of schooling and the quality of education.


A person, group or organization that has an interest or concern in, or can be affected by the results of, a particular action, objective, system or policy. It is good practice to consult and involve all stakeholders in decisions which affect them.


Expectations about teachers’ knowledge, competences, attributes and performance, which describe what good teaching is in a given context and what teachers need to know and be able to do in order to implement good teaching.

Systems Approach for Better Results in Education (SABER)

World Bank’s initiative to produce comparative data and knowledge on education policies and institutions, with the aim of helping countries systematically strengthen their education systems. Teacher is one of the policy domains focused by SABER. SABER-Teachers documents and analyses the teacher policies that govern public schools in education systems around the world, in both developing and developed countries.


Teacher certification

See certification.

Teacher gap

The difference between the number of teachers currently employed and the number needed to ensure education for all learners within defined learner/teacher ratios and other variables.

Teacher Management Information System (TMIS)

As part of an EMIS, or as a stand-alone database, a system designed to collect, manage, process and report individual teacher-level data about a teaching force.

Teacher unions

Organizations of teachers established for protecting or improving, through collective action, the economic and social  status  of their members. In some countries, teachers are members of associations, which act as unions, or are members of education worker unions, which collectively represent different categories of education personnel.

Technical and vocational education and training (TVET)

The acquisition of knowledge and skills for the world of work, often delivered through private public partnerships between industry and education providers.

Turnover rates

The proportion of employees who leave an organization expressed as a percentage of total workforce over a set period (often annually).



Failure to perform the duties of a role to agreed or required standards. Under-performance may have many causes, including lack of clarity about standards and expectations, insufficient training, excessive workload, ineffective communication, the “wrong person for the job” or outside personal factors. Under- performance should not be confused with misconduct or poor conduct

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