Skip to main content
Printable page generated Sunday, 3 December 2023, 1:53 AM
Use 'Print preview' to check the number of pages and printer settings.
Print functionality varies between browsers.
Unless otherwise stated, copyright © 2023 The Open University, all rights reserved.
Printable page generated Sunday, 3 December 2023, 1:53 AM

Chapter 2: Contextualisation


This chapter covers key aspects of framing a teacher policy. It begins by outlining the need for a coherent and integrated approach to developing a teacher policy, notably with regard to other education policies and national development plans and priorities. It follows with a discussion of guiding principles for developing a teacher policy. It concludes with a summary and review of key resources that may assist national governments in framing and developing a teacher policy.

2.1 Aligning teacher policy with education and other national policies

Activity: National Teacher polices

As you read section 2.1 note down and be prepared to explain:

  • Why having a ‘national teacher policy’ is important.
  • Which other national policies a ‘national teacher policy’ should align to.

2.1.1 Why a national teacher policy? Planning and coordination

There are several important reasons for policy- and decision-makers to formulate and implement a national teacher policy: the importance of education, teachers and teaching; ensuring equitable learning success for all learners; maximizing a country’s investments in education; and guaranteeing sufficient numbers of competent and motivated teachers, particularly in locations where they are most needed (Chapter 1).

These multiple objectives require careful planning and coordination among many different actors. This entails establishing or strengthening coordination mechanisms to address the complex and interrelated factors that affect education and teaching, including: a country or community’s political, economic, social and cultural framework; family considerations; the education and school system; and school-level factors (OECD, 2005: 30). The process of developing and implementing a teacher policy will need to identify and address these interlocking factors that impact on teachers and teaching.

Due in part to their complexity, teacher policies may not rank high on the list of country priorities, given their political and financial costs – particularly if, as the Guide suggests, they are comprehensive. For maximum effectiveness, a teacher policy needs to be applicable to all teachers, in all regions and at all school levels within the scope of this Guide. Too often, policy- and decision-makers eschew or postpone such comprehensive policy changes because of the implementation costs and timeframes (Chapter 5). However, if addressed only partially or not at all, the policies are likely to have limited impact on the challenges (OREALC, 2013: 90). Political will, reflecting the maximum national consensus on the way forward, is therefore a key determinant of the policy process, including its initial framework.

2.1.2 Aligning teacher policy with education policy

Coordinating a teacher policy with a country’s education policy or plan is particularly crucial to its success. A teacher policy that is well integrated within a wider education sector plan will be guided by the same overall vision, in addition to sharing its other essential characteristics: strategic, holistic, feasible, sustainable, and context-sensitive (Global Partnership for Education/GPE, 2014; International Institute for Educational Planning – IIEP and GPE, 2012: 7). The GPE has produced a guide for education sector analysis (GPE, 2014) that provides a useful framework and tool to link teacher policy development to overall education planning. In particular, the GPE guide outlines an approach for linking teacher quantity and quality issues to improving education quality. A comprehensive teacher policy should address the overall objectives and major challenges as set out in the education policy/plan, the funding required to achieve these objectives, the demographic parameters of the learner population and the human resources required to achieve universally accessible quality education.

This Guide is based on the concept that a single, holistic policy is preferable to a less comprehensive policy, or to several documents that address only one or a few of the major dimensions defining good teacher and learning conditions, thereby suffering from a lack of coherence. If developed and implemented in harmony with the overall education sector policy, a teacher policy should not result in greater policy fragmentation. It does not, however, need to be a completely new policy document, and it may unify more piecemeal approaches to important dimensions. The country-specific existing and future education sector and related policies presented below – relative to HIV and AIDS, gender, etc. – will also guide the choice of a single policy document or of another approach at the national level.

As things now stand, most education sector plans create more fragmentation and less coherence; they address teacher policy dimensions only partially and do not systematically include all the major determinants of learning success linked to teachers, i.e. recruitment; initial education; balanced deployment; continual professional development; decent salaries; career prospects; and working (teaching/ learning) conditions (see Hunt, 2013, for a review of 40 national education plans related to teaching and learning; UNESCO, 2014a: 22). Ghana provides an example of a sector plan featuring some broadly defined strategies covering many teacher policy dimensions (Box 2.1). However, certain important elements of a comprehensive policy (see Chapter 3)  are missing that would encourage greater teacher motivation and professionalism (as described in Section 2.2).

Aligning teacher policy with education policy continued


The Fifth Education Sector Plan (ESP) prepared by the MoE builds on previous plans and analysis of their implementation through national assessments, ESP reviews, sector analysis and national statistical sources. The plan acknowledges linkages to other national and international education and development policies, including a 2008 ‘pre-tertiary teacher development and management policy’, in which very general strategies to address the following teacher policy dimensions are formulated:

  • Enhanced status of teachers through a career path linking incentives with professional growth
  • Improved teacher quality through a continuous school/cluster-based professional development scheme, including distance learning for all teachers
  • Rationalized teacher supply and demand based on district level projections of teacher needs, in line with teacher management decentralization
  • A teacher qualification and licensing framework based on standards and requirements set by the National Teaching Council
  • Mandatory induction for all beginning teachers and regular school-based in-service training for early career teachers, to secure long-term commitment to teaching excellence
  • Improved teacher management through provision of resources and incentives for local school management.

The guiding principles of the plan refer to improving the quality of learning and teaching and developing an effective, efficient and properly rewarded teaching service, while policy objectives for teachers in basic and secondary education include: improving the preparation, upgrading and deployment of teachers and head teachers (for basic education, especially in disadvantaged areas, with an emphasis on female teachers); and ensuring that the teaching service “provides value for money in terms of pupil contact time”. The objectives refer to teacher presence in classrooms and hours of work, and teacher and head teacher performance appraisal are included. Further objectives target cost savings by replacing government stipends for initial teacher education by loans, increasing multi-grade teaching, phasing out professional development study leave in favour of distance training and ‘rationalizing’ staffing costs by weeding out ‘ghost’ and ‘unutilized/ underutilized’ staff. Pupil–teacher ratios are expected to rise at all levels.

Although evidently designed to address specific problems within the education system in Ghana, the plan does not appear to pay sufficient attention to issues such as recruitment and deployment incentives, comprehensive professional development for all teachers, improvements in balanced hours of work and other factors affecting teacher motivation and professionalisation.

For more information: Government of Ghana, 2012; Teacher Task Force, 2011a.

A teacher policy is an important component of an overall education policy to promote education quality and achieve a country’s vision: where a teacher policy is aligned with education policy, it reinforces education objectives; where the two are disjointed, both teaching status and learning quality suffer. Boxes 2.2 and 2.3. summarize two very different approaches.


The adoption of the 2000 Dakar Framework for Action’s commitments to EFA goals helped spur policy changes to boost universal primary education (UPE) in Kenya and Tanzania in 2002–2003. School fees were abolished or severely curtailed, vastly increasing primary school enrolments. National education plans addressed teacher recruitment and training, new infrastructure and financing changes in the first few years. However, no comprehensive teacher policies existed to address many other specific recruitment, training, deployment and teaching condition challenges that eithers already existed or were likely to emerge with the new education policy.

The dramatic enrolment increases reportedly impacted on teacher job satisfaction and motivation as class sizes and workloads increased, especially in urban areas, at the same time as resources became more constrained, despite international donor support. Additional resources were largely used to increase enrolment capacity, without directly addressing teachers’ material and professional needs.

In Tanzania, increased teacher recruitment was planned, but the targets for new recruits were proportionately lower than the very large enrolment targets, falling short of the goals over time (50% increase in teacher numbers compared to a 100% increase in enrolment). Government employment freezes led to some trained teachers leaving for other employment. Double-shift classes and multi-grade teaching, which increased to offset the teacher and classroom gap, led to a decline in teacher performance. Planned increases in teacher housing were partially met, but were not sufficient to overcome the shortages of teacher deployments to rural areas. HIV further affected teaching staffing. Initial teacher preparation was shortened, and the planned improvements to in-service professional development failed to fill the gaps due to financial and logistical pressures. This had a negative impact on preparing teachers in more effective teaching/ learning techniques, especially for the larger classrooms.

The overall effect was to further lower the overall standing of teaching in relation to other professions. As such, recruitment of better-qualified teacher candidates continues to be a problem. At the same time, while overall basic learning indicators have improved, this has not been the case for poor and disadvantaged learners, with further stagnation at the lower secondary level. The absence of a more detailed teacher policy as part of the ambitious (and successful) access goals has hindered achieving the quality objectives.

For more information: Bennell, 2011; Bennell and Akyeampong, 2007; Mbelle, 2008; Nordstrum, 2013; URT, 2006; UNESCO, 2014a: 203-6.


Education and teacher policy in Finland receives consistently high ratings in international learning assessments, pointing to the importance of integrating teacher policy with the overall education objectives of individualized learning and success for all learners.

Strictly speaking, there is no formal teacher policy: teacher ‘policy’ has been established by default over many years through the promotion of very high initial education standards (Masters Degree) for employment as a teacher in Finnish schools, and requirements for all teachers to regularly undergo professional development. Initial education and continuous professional development (CPD) are fully funded by the government. A university-acquired degree is a licence to teach – there are no alternative paths to a teacher’s job. The teacher preparation and professional development programmes emphasize research-based teacher learning and thorough knowledge of content and pedagogical strategies for the desired education level.

As a result, individually and through their union, teachers have a large degree of classroom autonomy over teaching methods, materials and student assessment, together with a high degree of participation in decisions on local curricula and national education reforms. A high degree of professionalism exists, reinforced by trust in teacher competences and skills. There is no external evaluation: teacher evaluation and improvements are dealt with through annual consultations between principal and teacher. Teacher salaries and conditions are set by national collective bargaining. Salaries are not significantly higher than the national average wage and are comparable to other professions. Teaching hours are low compared to other OECD countries to permit more teacher preparation and student assessment time.

The result is a de facto policy, which accords high professional status to teaching and encourages top secondary school graduates to seek teacher positions: only one of every ten applicants to primary teacher training programmes is accepted

For more information: Finnish National Board of Education, 2014; Sahlberg, 2010.

Table 2.1 sets out examples of the alignment of some dimensions of a teacher policy with an education plan, drawing on the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, the UNESCO General Education Quality Analysis Framework (GEQAF) and the ILO Handbook of good human resource practices in the teaching profession.Footnote 4

Education policyTeacher policy
Achieve quality education for every child/learner goals established at the national level:
  • Maximum ECE enrolment
  • 100% primary (basic) gross enrolment and graduation
  • Maximum secondary enrolment and graduation
  • 100% literacy rate country-wide
  • Demographic projections to guide enrolment forecasts
Sufficient numbers of well-qualified teachers for every level of education:
  • Current future recruitment needs/future projections
  • Standards for admission to teaching by level of education
  • Recruitment projections/teacher profile (urban, rural and disadvantaged areas, minority populations, male and female)
  • Attrition: projections for retirement, illness, death, professional and personal reasons
National curricula and/or guidelines for decentralised education authorities on curricula choices to achieve desired student competence levels on graduation from each level of education
  • Recommended pedagogical methods to meet learning goals
  • Revisions in current/previous curricula to meet education reform objectives
Initial teacher preparation, certification and ongoing professional development programmes to meet expected learning outcomes:
  • Teacher competence and skill profiles
  • Qualification levels and allowed exceptions
  • Certification/licensing criteria and procedures
  • Professional development requirements and programmes for all teachers
  • Teacher educator profiles, knowledge and qualifications
  • Monitoring, evaluation and revision of teacher education
  • Access to CPD for all teachers
Financing of the education system:
  • Goals for national, regional, local resource investment – percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), public sector contributions and government expenditure by education level
  • Private sector investment/contributions, including family and individual
Financing of teacher preparation and employment:
  • Investments for initial teacher preparation and recruitment
  • Funding for career-long continuing professional development (CPD) for all teachers
  • Salaries and incentives to attract, deploy and retain teachers, including social security
  • State provision and/or standards for private sector teachers
Organization and governance of education:
  • Mix of public and private provision – standards and regulation
  • Centralised or decentralised organisation coordination for coherence among education levels
  • Education management structures to ensure efficiency and goal- setting
  • School leadership for learning outcomes
  • Participation of stakeholders in policy and governance
Teacher management and support:
  • Standards, procedures, authorities/agencies responsible for dimensions of teaching
  • Coordination between national, regional and local levels on teacher dimensions
  • School leadership development and support programmes
  • Mechanisms for social dialogue on teaching conditions
  • Dialogue mechanisms on teacher dimensions
Learning environment and conditions:
  • Required days and hours of instruction
  • Standards for pupil-teacher ratios (PTRs)
  • Safe and healthy school rules and provisions
  • Construction/renovation of schools/classrooms
  • Provision of learning support aids and equipment
Effective teaching and learning conditions:
  • Required hours of instruction, teacher presence in schools, planning, preparation, collaborative work, professional development, parent consultations
  • Class size standards
  • Teacher auxiliary support/para-professionals
  • Teaching materials and equipment provided
Assessing the education system’s performance:
  • National, regional or local inspectorate services to assess performance and recommend changes
  • Roles of professional associations/councils/bodies in standard- setting and review
Teacher accountability: appraisal, roles and responsibilities
  • Rights, roles and responsibilities of teachers established and procedures for application, including disciplinary mechanisms
  • Teacher evaluation standards and procedures
  • Professional development requirements or opportunities to improve performance

2.1.3 Teacher policy across education levels and priorities

Aligning teacher policy within a country’s different education levels – early childhood, primary, general and vocational secondary – and according to evolving priorities can enhance adaptability to ensure more cohesion in meeting changing education needs. Governments tend to compartmentalize teacher recruitment and preparation by education level. When deciding to enter the teaching profession, individuals usually seek a career at a certain education level. However, personal, professional and material conditions change and influence mobility among levels.

International standards encourage such possibilities. Government policy and planning should take into account that teachers choose to leave one level of education for another, or leave classroom teaching for other educational responsibilities in management, research or teacher preparation (ILO/UNESCO, 1966). By accommodating forward-looking planning to meet changing education needs, teacher policy can help avoid unnecessary shocks that lead to quantitative or qualitative shortages. Examples include:

  • Assuring parity or comparability in salary and other employment conditions at different levels of education, according to skill requirements and education need – the growing importance of ECE and the need to recruit, educate and retain increasingly qualified teachers at this level in relation to primary schools is one example (ILO, 2014: 10–20 – see also Section 2.1.4)
  • Reflecting the importance of primary or basic education (inclusive of lower secondary education) in terms of salaries, school resources and teaching conditions, compared to more subject-specialized higher secondary teachers. While the latter tend to be educated differently and remunerated at higher levels, there is an equal need for highly qualified, motivated and resourced primary or lower secondary school teachers (OECD, 2014a: 46–48)
  • Putting policies in place to address teacher shortages at different levels originating from a generalized lack of qualified teachers or gaps in specific skill profiles (in terms of subject areas, languages, or pedagogical competences to meet specialized needs, such as those of young children and marginalized populations) (UNESCO, 2014a: 239–240)
  • Planning for changing demographics in staffing needs and preparing for new education priorities, which requires:
    • Recruiting more males to ECE or female teachers for primary and secondary schools in countries and areas where they are underrepresented, to facilitate girls’educational access
    • Achieving a greater balance in rural/urban teacher deployment, including hard-to-staff disadvantaged schools in urban or remote areas (one of the thorniest problems facing policy- and decision-makers in a wide range of countries)
    • Rejuvenating the profession when the teaching corps ages, adjusting for factors that drive attrition rates among young teachers or discourage new entrants
    • Achieving inclusive education for disadvantaged populations, such as learners from ethnic minorities, nomadic or minority language communities, or learners with special education needs (OECD, 2005: 54–60; OECD, 2014a: 32–33, 40–43; UNESCO, 2014a: 22, 25, 28).

A forward-looking teacher policy, capable of anticipating and addressing potential difficulties and offering solutions to ensure effective teaching and learning despite resource constraints, is particularly important in exceptional crisis situations, where significant numbers of both teachers and learners may be internally displaced or refugees (Education International – EI, 2014a; Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies – INEE, 2009; Teacher Task Force, 2011a; UNESCO, 2014a; see also Section 3.1). These situations include:

  • Civil strife or armed conflict zones, internally or externally generated
  • Emergencies created by natural or human-made disasters
  • Exceptional public health challenges, such as the 2014 West African Ebola crisis or the continued fall-out from HIV in a number of countries.

2.1.4 Aligning teacher policy with other national policies

A teacher policy should be consistent with education sector policies or plans and recognize diverse policy contexts, such as children’s rights and related human rights policies; HIV and AIDS policies where these exist, or where this is a particularly important national concern (such as in high-prevalence countries); and national gender policies or equivalent plans for reducing gender disparities.

Children’s rights policies

Children’s rights to education are related to other basic rights, such as general welfare, health and safety, including protection from various forms of abuse. These are codified in one of the most ratified international conventions, the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN, 1989 – EN/ ProfessionalInterest/ Pages/ CRC.aspx). Since most countries have ratified the Convention, legislation and policies have been created to implement these standards. These instruments frequently recommend or impose requirements on teachers to respect children’s rights or monitor the welfare of children in their charge in such areas as domestic violence, sexual abuse, trafficking or child labour. A teacher policy needs to be aligned with such requirements, to ensure proper teacher recruitment, training, reporting and disciplinary measures for noncompliance. It should also ensure that teachers’ rights and responsibilities are aligned with children’s rights and protection. International organizations engaged in child welfare and protection have a number of resources to help guide policy on these questions (see, for example: EI, 2004; EI, 2014b; ILO, 2012: 20; Poisson, 2009).

HIV and AIDS policies

Similarly, countries around the world – particularly in regions of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe most affected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic since the 1980s – have national policies in place to address the causes and effects of the disease. Teacher policy should be aligned with a national effort to address HIV and AIDS, given the devastating human consequences of the pandemic and the disruptions it provokes in teaching and learning (illness, absenteeism and death of teachers and learners, creation of orphans, additional human and financial costs for the education system) (ILO, 2012: 67–70).

Aligning teacher policy with the measures adopted under a national HIV and AIDS policy helps mitigate the adverse effects on quality education and human resources, as well as reduce the financial costs resulting from the lack of cohesion between the two policies. A 2011–2012 international survey of progress in this domain found that two-thirds of nearly 40 surveyed countries with significant prevalence levels had adopted an education sector policy linked to the national HIV and AIDS policy/plan; close to one half of the countries had developed an education sector workplace policy applicable to employment and training issues relevant to teachers and other education workers (UNESCO and UNAIDS-IATT, 2013: 16, 20–27).

Guidelines on the content and processes of developing such a policy specific to countries in two high prevalence regions – the Caribbean and Southern Africa – have been developed by the ILO and UNESCO (ILO/UNESCO, 2006a and 2006b). The Teachers Service Commission of Kenya (TSC) adopted such a policy in 2007 (TSC, 2007).

Civic and human rights policies

Teacher policy should also be linked to national civic and human rights legislation and policies. Teachers are called upon to instruct future citizens. They are also expected to serve as role models for a nation’s commitment to basic civic and human rights, including non-discrimination in education and the larger society. Teacher policy needs to establish a framework for initial education, professional development and ethical codes that enshrines professional rights and responsibilities, and gives teachers the tools to teach and behave according to the highest professional standards, as model citizens (Tomasevski, 2004; UNESCO, 2014b).

Early childhood education

Investing in ECE as a foundation for all other education is important for improving quality and achieving equity (UNESCO, 2006). The quality of care and teaching is critical to assuring the provision of high-quality ECE. Based on evidence from a wide range of countries, the ILO (2014) guidelines on decent work for ECE staff note that ‘High-quality ECE provision is dependent on adequate investments in initial ECE personnel education and training that ensure preparation for all ECE personnel comparable to that of primary school teachers with equivalent professional status and responsibilities.’ The guidelines further emphasize a high professional, social and material status for ECE personnel, built around a comprehensive recruitment, development and retention policy or strategy developed at national level, to ensure ECE excellence (ILO, 2014: 10, 13). Given the importance of this education foundation, a teacher policy should in the first place be aligned with and enhance policies related to ECE.

Gender Equality

A teacher policy should also be linked to national efforts to reduce gender disparities in education, training, employment, income and access to social services. Whether or not a national gender policy exists, many national education plans address gender imbalances as part of efforts to achieve Goal 5 of the Dakar Framework for Action on EFA (UNESCO, 2000). These policies mostly target girls’ access to quality education and training, although countries in some regions – such as the Caribbean – must address boys’ engagement at secondary and higher education levels. Box 2.4. cites examples.

Gender equality continued


Many countries include measures linking teacher policy to important gender imbalances that they wish to reduce or eliminate, most often to improve girls’ universal access to quality education. For example:

  • Afghanistan, Interim Education Plan, 2011–2013: Improvements in girls’ enrolment and retention rates in school, reduction in gender and rural disparities and improvements in students’ learning achievements are to be monitored by the Education Management Information Systems (EMIS). An annual report also focuses on pupil–teacher ratios, student–classroom ratios, exam results and other data on learning achievements
  • Kenya, Education Sector Support Programme 2005– 2010: Envisages teacher training for gender responsive, child centred and interactive teaching.
  • Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Education Sector Development Framework 2009–2015, Teacher Education Strategy 2006–2015 and the National Education Sector Reform Strategy: Foresee that the majority of new teacher education graduates are to be posted to underserved and remote areas to achieve gender and ethnic population parity. Related policies prioritize filling remote school vacancies with teachers with an ethnic language, notably through a quota system for recruiting and retaining good teachers in poor districts.
  • Nigeria, Roadmap for the Nigerian Education Sector 2009: targets gender parity in teacher recruitment.
For more information: Hunt, 2013, Annex Two.

2.1.5 Defining and coordinating policy in different education systems and contexts

In federal states and decentralized education systems, subnational education authorities are likely to be the principal policy and decision-makers or to share responsibilities with national authorities. Hence, a national teacher policy must address shared responsibilities for policy development and implementation through coordination across sub national boundaries. Countries such as Brazil, Canada, Nigeria, and the United States (USA) have developed different approaches to harmonizing policies promoting equal access and quality standards while also taking into account the subnational contexts (Boxes 2.5 and 2.6).

Where they appear in federal systems, good teacher policies are frequently defined very generally, recognizing the subnational-level control over teacher and teaching practices. Federal governments’ main tool to harmonize policy nationwide is financial; it is usually tied to defined standards for improving learning or education, with direct or indirect impacts on teacher dimensions.


In Brazil, the National Education Plan (PNE) adopted in 2010 and the Plan for the Development of Education (PDE) cover many education and teacher policy questions. The PDE specifically seeks to strengthen a systemic, nationwide approach to greater equality of access and education quality across Brazil’s many regions and states. Both draw on two previously adopted laws creating national funding mechanisms to achieve greater equality of access and education quality for poorer regions, states and municipalities: the Fund for Primary Education Administration and Development for the Enhancement of Teacher Status (FUNDEF); and the Fund for the Development of Basic Education and Appreciation of the Teaching Profession (FUNDEB), supplemented by the ‘Bolsa Familia’ programme providing cash transfers to families in return for children attending school.

FUNDEF greatly increased federal government investments in education, earmarking 60% of funds for teacher salaries and 40% for school operations. The establishment of a national minimum teacher salary allowed teachers in poor northern states to upgrade their qualifications so that by 2002, almost all teachers had acquired the minimum required training. It also encouraged an influx of fully qualified teachers in those areas, resulting in an increase of 20% in the teacher workforce between 1997 and 2002. The special funds have led to large increases in school enrolments in the poorer northern regions, to a rise in average school attendance among children from the poorest 20% of families and to increases in mathematics scores for students. The PNE and PDE have also led to greater cooperation in initial teacher education and professional development between higher and open education institutions and state and municipal employers of teachers. New education system tools have also been developed to further nationwide coordination in key areas such as teacher education, professional development and teaching resources.

Nigeria’s education sector plan for the period 2011–2015 is subsumed in a “roadmap” published in 2009. Education is a shared responsibility between federal, state and local levels. The Federal Ministry of Education (FME) is responsible for national policy, data collection, uniform standards including quality assurance, curricula development and harmonizing state policies and procedures.

Teacher recruitment, quality, development, motivation and retention along with inadequate infrastructure and instructional resources are identified as challenges in the roadmap, along with general strategies, indicators and timelines grouped in a teacher education and development cluster, and touching upon a range of teacher policy dimensions:

  • Teacher recruitment (including gender parity) and appropriate school staffing
  • Incentives for teacher deployment and school presence in rural areas
  • Implementation of national teacher education policy, frameworks for professional development and teacher induction and mentoring
  • Harmonisation of national and state salary structures
  • Teacher career development
  • Conducive working environments for teachers, including good pupil–teacher ratios
  • Enhanced school head leadership and training.

Although the education sector plan is broad in its coverage, most strategies and indicators are general, with very short timeframes for implementation. A 2012 implementation report highlighted challenges and implementation shortfalls, often attributed to funding issues.

For more information: Brazil: Ministry of Education, Brazil, 2007; Bruns et al., 2012; UNESCO, 2014a; Nigeria: FME, 2009 and 2012; Teacher Task Force, 2011a.


In Canada, teacher policy and programmes are the domain of local school boards and the provinces. Nevertheless, the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) provides a forum in which the provincial/territorial ministers of education share information, consult on matters of mutual interest, undertake cooperative initiatives and represent the interests of the provinces/ territories with the federal government and internationally, at all educational levels. CMEC work on teacher policy to date has essentially been limited to harmonizing pan-Canadian standards for teacher certification and assessing credentials of educators trained and recruited from outside Canada.

In the United States, as in Canada, education and therefore teacher policy dimensions are the prerogative of state and local authorities. In recent years, the federal government has tried to influence state and local policies through successive reform initiatives to meet federal criteria (or federally supported core standards elaborated by national professional bodies), using federal block grants. Known as the ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ and the ‘Race to the Top’ initiative of the Obama presidential administration, these aim to improve learners’ outcomes, with a focus on disadvantaged populations, through improved teacher effectiveness and systemic accountability mechanisms. Dimensions of teacher policy directly or indirectly influenced by the criteria and grants at state and local levels include teacher recruitment, professional development, support and assessment; effectiveness and performance based pay; incentives and sanctions affecting employment, remuneration and careers; up to dismissal of teachers and principals if targets are not achieved. Critics of the policy, including many classroom teachers required or pressured to apply teaching methodologies based on testing, decry the overly heavy reliance on standardized test results and emerging ‘value added models’ to measure success, to the detriment of other school and learning factors.

For more information: Canada: CMEC ( 2008 and 2014); Hargreaves and Braun (2013); US Department of Education (2009).

Other policy questions arise in very large and small (especially island) states, often in relation to the sheer size and geographic extent of education in the former (see Box 2.7 for an example from the People’s Republic of China) and the human and financial capacity constraints of the latter.

Defining and coordinating policy continued


As in almost all countries, China embeds elements of teacher policy within its ten-year education sector plan, rather than constructing a dedicated teacher policy. The plan has a chapter on teachers, which focuses on key elements to improve teacher/teaching quality in the continued political and economic transition of the world’s most populous country and second largest economy. These include:

  • Promoting professional ethics in relation to teacher appointment, employment, evaluation and misconduct
  • Raising professional efficiency through training to strengthen both knowledge and pedagogical proficiency, with a focus on teacher leaders, mentors and principals; all teachers are expected in the future to undergo professional development every five years; the plan calls for bilingual training to strengthen minority areas
  • Concentrating policy tools on rural teacher recruitment, deployment and quality, through career and salary incentives
  • Raising teachers’ working and living conditions to increase the talent pool and commitment to lifelong careers, through such measures as legislation to guarantee salaries comparable to or higher than other civil servants, performance-based salaries, incentives for remote and border areas, preferential housing and improved social security measures (a policy objective that rarely figures in other plans or policies)
  • Strengthening teacher management, especially at local (county) level, through credentialing and a permit system to determine appointment decisions; career progression is to be more subject to service in rural and remote areas.
For more information: Government of China (2010); UNESCO (2014a).

Specific teacher policy considerations also apply to conflict and post-conflict or post-disaster contexts. The INEE Guiding Principles on Integrating Conflict Sensitivity in Education Policy and Programming in Conflict-Affected and Fragile Contexts (INEE, 2013) identify several important policy aspects relating to teachers, including:

  • Strengthening the process of supplying and training teachers (and teacher trainers)
  • Strengthening the Teacher Management Information System (TMIS), the EMIS and teacher salary systems
  • Ensuring adequate numbers of trained teachers who reflect the diversity of their societies (different ethnic and religious groups, and gender).

2.2 Foundations and guiding principles for a teacher policy

Activity: Setting teacher policy – principles and implementation

As you read Section 2.2, note down:

  • The key principles and elements that should be included in the policy.
  • The elements that are necessary for implementing a teacher policy.
  • How to capture teacher effectiveness, teacher motivation and teacher professionalism in a vision statement.

Guidelines for education sector plans or policies emphasize ownership, coordination, participation and sustainability through capacity development. Key principles or elements may include: a vision or mission statement setting direction; identifying strategies, capacities and priorities; a holistic approach; a feasibility analysis of trends, constraints and stakeholder commitment affecting implementation and often closely associated with political, economic and natural ‘vulnerabilities’ that form the national context within which a plan is developed and implemented (IIEP and GPE, 2012).

As with a national education policy or plan, a good teacher policy should build a foundation around a number of key principles and elements essential to implementing and achieving this plan, notably:

  • A vision or mission statement and objectives
  • Targets, benchmarks and timelines
  • Comprehensive coverage of key dimensions
  • Assessing the environment: difficulties/challenges/ gaps
  • Relevant data and management
  • Coordination mechanisms.
  • Funding needs and sources
  • Participation and stakeholder commitment
  • Evaluation and revision.

2.2.1 Vision or mission statement and objectives

A teacher policy needs at least a brief statement of what it is about and why it is important, setting some overarching objectives that map out directions and defining where the country or system wants its teaching profession to be at some point in the future. Three key concepts should prevail in objective-setting:

  • Teacher effectiveness
  • Teacher motivation
  • Teacher professionalism.

The ultimate objectives are universal access to education of the highest quality possible by all citizens of society, even the most marginalized. Based on evidence from many countries, teachers are the single most important factor determining whether those objectives will be achieved (at least in terms of factors that can be influenced by education policy-makers). Teacher effectiveness is therefore a crucial part of the mission statement.

Effectiveness can be defined in terms of achieving certain learning targets, both statistical (100% literacy) and less tangible (thoughtful and engaged citizens), ‘adding value’ to the work of previous educators (including families and communities), or outlining the key teacher dimensions that reportedly affect effectiveness (see Chapter 3). Whatever the values assigned to these indicators, it is important to define the policy’s mission in a way that ties teachers’ work to the basic and universal educational objectives (Moon, 2013: 22–25; OECD, 2005: 30–33; World Bank, 2013).

Teachers’ motivation to do the best job they can with the training and tools at hand is a crucial building block of effectiveness. No amount of teacher education or material incentives to perform well will compensate for unmotivated, disinterested individuals in a teaching and learning situation (although both are critical dimensions of the question – see Chapter 3). Thus, a teacher policy should define a general objective to achieve maximum motivation (and its other dimensions, i.e. dedication to tasks and to learners) for all who enter teaching (Bennell, 2011).

A third guiding principle in the policy’s mission statement/ objectives should be maximum levels of teacher professionalism. ‘Professionalism’ has many dimensions, the most important of which are arguably high standards of education/training, job skills, fulfilment of duties and responsibilities, and a maximum amount of autonomous decision-making. Even – or especially – in education systems that are missing one or all of these factors (for example, due to high numbers of poorly qualified teachers or strict control of teachers’ work through top-down supervision and standardized testing), a good teacher policy will set its own objectives at the highest professional level (ILO/ UNESCO, 1966: Arts. 6, 61–63, 66, 71–73).

2.2.2 Targets, benchmarks and timelines

To know if a policy is working (achieving objectives) it is helpful to establish targets, benchmarks and timelines to measure progress. In addition to general objectives (such as improving teacher quality, reducing teacher attrition or absenteeism, and increasing access to instructional materials), it is generally advisable to set indicative targets and benchmarks (such as the percentage of qualified teachers recruited, the number of teachers undergoing professional development, teacher salaries at comparator levels with other professionals, and the number of teachers with basic learning aids). More specific targets or benchmarks allow progress to be monitored more easily and efficiently. Targets are formulated over a given timeline that includes both intermediate and final targets. The timeline is most useful if it is aligned with the national education plan and accounts for both short-term priorities (teacher recruitment to fill all identified shortages) and the long-term nature of educational planning and outcomes (years to educate and properly form a good teacher) (IIEP and GPE, 2012: 12–13; UNESCO, 2012a: 23–25; UNESCO, 2010: 26–27).

2.2.3 Comprehensive coverage of key dimensions

A teacher policy will be most effective if it is comprehensive, encompassing at least the most important dimensions of teacher preparation and work (OECD, 2005; ILO, 2012; see Chapter 3 for more details):

  • Non-discriminatory, comprehensive, professional teacher recruitment
  • Effective and relevant initial teacher preparation
  • Universally accessible, career-long CPD (for all teachers)
  • Monitoring and support, including effective teacher induction and mentoring
  • Teacher remuneration and incentives to attract, deploy and retain effective teachers
  • Career progression, including transfers and promotions
  • Support to decent teaching and learning conditions – defined hours of work, class sizes, aids and organization to meet learning needs, access to adequate teaching and learning materials
  • Professional standards, accountability, rights and responsibilities, including a degree of autonomy, codes of ethics and conduct, and disciplinary procedures
  • Formative teacher assessment linked to learning objectives
  • Social dialogue – information sharing, consultation and negotiation to give teachers a voice in decision making
  • Effective school governance and leadership, including managing and supporting teachers.

Most reviews of education and teacher policies note that policies and strategies are usually fragmented or incomplete with regard to covering these dimensions, focusing instead on those policies that seem most relevant at a given time (Teacher Task Force, 2011a and 2011b; UNESCO, 2014a: 22). A good teacher policy should foresee all of the dimensions and take a long-term view, since teachers’preparation and learning impact are measured in years, if not decades.

2.2.4 Assessing the environment: difficulties, challenges, and gaps

A teacher policy should not hide the challenges, uncertainties and potential roadblocks a system faces to reach its objectives, including the political dimensions of policy formulation and implementation (see Chapters 4 and 5). These are equivalent to threats, vulnerabilities or risks in other planning terminology, whether political, economic, social, cultural or natural. A policy should clearly identify the known existing teacher gaps, both quantitative and qualitative, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of previous policies and strategies that have attempted to address them. These elements bring a sense of reality in terms of capacity and constraints (demographic, human resource, financial or other); they further define pragmatic benchmarks and timelines, and help increase the chance that the policy will be effective (IIEP and GPE, 2012: 9, 16, 19, 21, 24; UNESCO, 2012a: 36–38).

2.2.5 Relevant data and management

An effective policy requires solid and relevant data to underpin its development, allow assessment of the progress made and objectives achieved, and enable its possible revision. Bearing in mind the resource constraints and difficulties of obtaining reliable and good-quality data (not just numbers), especially in resource-poor systems, the data set should cover inasmuch as possible the major dimensions of teaching (as set out in Chapter 3) for all geographic areas, population groups and education levels within the scope of this Guide. Capturing information on attitudes, beliefs and perceptions (as an experts’ review described it, what is in the ‘black box’) through qualitative teacher surveys can be vital to understanding motivation (or frustration) – and consequently, effectiveness. Analysis of teacher indicators should be read closely with indicators of learning outcomes to meet the basic objectives (Teacher Task Force, 2011a: 18, 25; UNESCO,2012b: 11–16). Several international organizations offer cross-national indicators and databases that can inform country policy (see Section 2.3).

2.2.6 Funding needs and sources

A teacher policy needs to be budgeted in all its dimensions (Chapter 3), including the policy development process (Chapter 4) and implementation (Chapter 5). Teacher preparation, recurring costs (mostly staff salary and benefits) and capital costs related to teaching, and linked to the national, local or school budget projections as appropriate, should figure in the policy. As with other education objectives – increasingly present in international indicator work – the policy may establish public budgetary allocation targets for specific policy line items, supplemented by national private (enterprise, community, family)Footnote 5 and international donor contributions. Among others, the percentage of national resources necessary for major dimensions of a healthy teaching profession merit attention: the numbers of newly qualified teachers to meet attrition projections; initial teacher education; CPD for all teachers; salaries to attract and retain effective teachers; incentives for balanced deployment; social security; and the various components of teaching/learning conditions related to education objectives. Where necessary, the policy may delineate alternative funding sources (Chapter 3) to ensure adequate financing of these dimensions, if not already set out in the national education plan (IIEP and GPE, 2012: 10–11, 14–15, 22; ILO, 2012; UNESCO, 2012a: 46–49).

2.2.7 Participation and commitment

Like the policy development and implementation processes (Chapters 4 and 5), the process of framing a teacher policy should build on the widest possible participation of all major stakeholders to ensure ownership and commitment to achieving the policy’s goals. The most important (tier 1) partners and stakeholders are the teachers Footnote 6themselves and their collective representatives, i.e. teacher unions and professional organizations (teacher professional associations and colleges), followed closely (tier 2) by key system actors, notably teacher education institutions and professional certification, regulatory or standard- setting bodies. A third tier of stakeholders comprising students, parents and community representatives should also have a voice in defining the policy, hopefully committing to its achievement.

Consulting those individuals that are most knowledgeable about the subject because they are engaged in teaching and learning situations on a daily basis is a crucial foundation of good policy development. However, international reviews have consistently pointed to a noticeable lack of teacher voice in determining education (including teacher) policy. Not only does this demoralize teachers, it can have negative consequences on proper policy development and the commitment to seeing them through (ILO and UNESCO, 2010: 7–18; Ratteree, 2004; UNESCO, 2014a: 220–222). Framing an inclusive and holistic teacher policy should be occur through social dialogue (between education authorities/ administrations and teachers, teacher unions and professional organizations) and policy dialogue with other stakeholders close to the classroom teaching and learning dynamic (ILO/UNESCO, 1966: Arts. 9, 10(k), 75; ILO, 2012: 202–204; OECD, 2005: 214–218; World Bank, 2013: 21). Chapters 4 and 5 address in more detail the role of teachers, teacher unions and professional organizations in policy development and implementation.

2.2.8 Evaluation and revision

Like any other policy that establishes a roadmap to guide operations, a teacher policy should build in an evaluation tool or process to help determine whether and why objectives and benchmarks have been met (or not) and timelines respected, and what needs to change in future policy definition and implementation (see Chapters 4 and 5 for a more extensive discussion). Assessment of the policy’s effectiveness should pose key questions about measurement criteria (quantitative and qualitative indicators), the individuals responsible for performing the assessment (education planners, evaluation specialists, teaching staff, or other stakeholders), the timing of the reviews (ongoing, mid-term, or end of plan) and how the assessment results can best be utilized in policy and practice (IIEP and GPE, 2012: 17–18; UNESCO, 2012a: 24,37–38).

2.3 Using existing tools: Analytical works and available policy documents on teachers and education

Activity: Information available to guide teacher policy making

As you read section 2.3, note down:

  • The key international and regional organisations who collect data relevant to teacher policy making.
  • The data that each organisation makes available.

A number of international and regional organizationsFootnote 7 produce data, indicators and analytical tools and publications that can assist policy and decision-makers in defining, implementing, assessing and revising a national teacher policy. Many have been developed, validated or piloted at the country level, in close consultation with education authorities, as well as teacher representatives (unions, professional associations and individual teachers) and representatives of learners and other education stakeholders. This section briefly summarises some of the more important sources, and how they may assist in teacher policy work, and provides links to digital and print sources.

In terms of national sources, the Guide refers selectively to education legislation or acts relevant to various teacher policy issues. Access to a fuller list of national legislation by country – and in some cases in the relevant language – is also available through certain organizational websites mentioned below.

2.3.1 ILO and UNESCO

The global standard on teacher policy, the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation on the Status of Teachers ( sector/ Resources/ sectoral-standards/ WCMS_162034/ lang--en/ index.htm), was adopted by a special intergovernmental conference convened by the two organizations in 1966, after years of joint preparatory work. The Recommendation remains the sole international standard dedicated to the major parameters defining a professional teaching service. It can be used as a reference work by policy and decision-makers to construct or revise teacher/teaching policy. The standard is structured around twelve chapters, covering the following subjects:

  • Guiding principles and educational objectives and policies
  • Initial preparation and further education for the teaching profession
  • Employment and careers in teaching
  • Rights and responsibilities of teachers, professional autonomy, ethics/codes of conduct
  • Conditions for effective teaching and learning.
  • Teachers’salaries
  • Social security
  • Teacher shortage policies.

The Joint ILO/UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations concerning Teaching Personnel (CEART) produces an international monitoring report every three years on gaps and progress in applying the 1966 Recommendation ( global/ industries-and-sectors/ education/ WCMS_162256/ lang--en/ index.htm). These reports can help policy-makers improve teacher policy and practices. In the past, the governments and teacher unions of Japan (among others) engaged in a dialogue with the CEART on issues of teacher appraisal linked to careers, while those of Senegal discussed contractual teacher policy.

2.3.2 UNESCO

UNESCO has prepared a GEQAF designed to strengthen the capacity of education ministries to analyse, diagnose and monitor the quality of their general education systems through a systemic approach and strengthened national leadership and ownership. The GEQAF contains sections on teachers and teaching set within the overall framework of development goals, desired outcomes, core processes, core resources and supporting mechanisms.

The sections on teachers and teaching cover:

  • Teacher attraction, selection, recruitment, deployment and retention
  • Teacher training
  • Teachers’working conditions, salaries and incentives
  • Management and utilisation of teachers
  • Teaching processes, equity and effectiveness
  • Teacher monitoring and support
  • Conditions for teaching.

Together with technical support from UNESCO the GEQAF can be used to help establish teaching policy priorities as part of a diagnosis of the general education system.

UNESCO and the Senegal-based Pôle de Dakar (now part of the IIEP) have developed, published and applied a Methodological Guide for the Analysis of Teacher Issues (http://unesdoc. 190129e.pdf). The Methodological Guide is designed and used in joint country missions as a diagnostic tool for teacher policy development and reviews of policy application in sub-Saharan African countries. The diagnostic missions involve national education ministries, agencies and stakeholders, supported by regional and international specialists. In addition to the general education context, the Methodological Guide contains chapters on teacher needs, education, management, recruitment, deployment, absenteeism, professional status, remuneration and careers, and the professional and social context of teaching.

As part of a regional project on teachers and in association with its member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the UNESCO Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago) has prepared a series of publications on teacher policy and practice, including a report, Background and Criteria for Teacher-Policy Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, in Spanish and English (OREALC, 2013 – wp-content/ blogs.dir/ 1/ files_mf/ politicasdocentesingles27082013.pdf). The report is broken down into two parts: the first is a ’state of the art’ overview of teachers and teachers’ organizations in the region, initial teacher training, continual training/ professional development, the teaching career and teaching policy institutions and processes. The second part proposes guidelines and criteria for policy development on initial and continual training, teaching careers, and teaching policy institutions and processes in the region. More recent publications (OREALC, 2014a and 2014b) produced through the project respectively include a review of country experiences and successful practices in these areas, as well as provide a series of diagnostic working documents with systematized regional information and comparative evidence in the main subject areas.

In the Arab Region, a Regional Teacher Policy Framework and Resource Pack was discussed at a regional workshop in December 2014 in Beirut, Lebanon, with a view to its finalization. The document is proposed as a framework for teacher policies in the region. It looks into the main assumptions, values and principles that underpin forward-thinking teacher policies and points to different policy levers that can help translate such policies into practice.

2.3.3 UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)

  • UNESCO-UIS collects global teacher data and maintains an online database ( Education/ Pages/ teachers-statistics.aspx) for approximately mostly low-income 150 countries. Such indicators allow users of this Guide to compare indicators in their country with those of similar countries in their region or globally. The data and indicators cover:
  • Teacher headcounts, by level of education (early childhood, primary, secondary), public or private, programme orientation (general education, TVET), gender and training status (trained or untrained)
  • Trained or qualified teachers, including the percentage of trained teachers, of qualified teachers ,and of trained and qualified teachers
  • Teacher and gender
  • PTRs.

Annual data collection and indicators for 64 high-andmiddle-income countries include:

  • Teacher age profiles: by gender and level of education (all programmes); proportions of teachers in different age categories; proportions of females and males by age categories; percentage of teachers less than five years away from retirement
  • Teacher qualifications: highest level of education completed, compared to level of education taught; distribution of teachers by qualification level; minimum International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) level required to teach; minimum number of years of training required to teach
  • Teacher salaries: by level of education (general programmes, relative to GDP/purchasing power parity); length of service (starting salary, salary after fifteen years and salary at end of career); training status (trained vs. untrained); educational level taught (ISCED 1-3); total remuneration (including salary and additional bonuses); percentage of additional bonuses as compared to total income
  • Teacher workload: working and teaching hours by level of education; proportion of working time used to teach; proportion of working hours allocated to professional development; teacher unit cost; and total annual working/teaching weeks, days or hours.

Regional modules covering the majority of African countries, some Arab states and South and East Asia variously provide indicators from the data collected, such as teacher headcounts and characteristics, including age, sex, training and qualification, subject taught, teaching experience and professional status and type of institution. Special factsheets on teacher needs to meet UPE goals are also available. The UIS is developing a global module on teachers, to be launched in 2015, that will consolidate much of the data and indicators at global and regional level.

2.3.4 International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP)

The IIEP provides published resources on teacher management, notably teacher codes of conduct, teachers in emergency and reconstructive contexts, HIV and AIDS, and teacher preparation and recruitment. It prepares training manuals and runs courses on education sector planning, including components on teachers. The IIEP also maintains a database on national education sector plans, programmes and legislation which can be linked to from the organization website ( en).

2.3.5 International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030

The International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030, hosted by UNESCO, maintains a library of resources on teacher policy and practice with links from its website ( resources include:

  • Reports of international and regional policy dialogue forums and experts’ meetings
  • Task Force publications on teacher country policies and themes such as teacher attrition, inclusion in teacher education and gender equality in teaching
  • Country diagnostic reports (African countries)
  • Links to publications by Task Force members and partners.

The policy dialogue forums summarize the viewpoints, research and experiences of decision-makers, practitioners, researchers and teachers on salient teacher issues and promising practices from country, regional and international perspectives. Reports of expert meetings, bringing together high-profile specialists on teacher policies and practices, provide a deeper understanding of teacher-specific themes as a basis for policy development and improvement of practice. The country, member and partner publications offer insights into issues for policy formulation, application, review and revision.

2.3.6 International Labour Organisation (ILO)

The ILO developed and published a Handbook of good human resource practices in the teaching profession ( sector/ Resources/ publications/ WCMS_187793/ lang--en/ index.htm). The Handbook contains eight modules dealing with the major issues education authorities need to address to establish and maintain a high-quality teaching profession. The contents are based on international standards specific to teachers, international labour standards applicable to professional workers (such as teachers), and good practice and principles derived from contemporary human resource management and development from a wide range of countries and organizations.

The Handbook covers:

  • Recruitment and employment of teachers, including professional competences
  • Conditions of employment, including staff leave conditions and career development
  • Professional roles, responsibilities and accountability of teachers
  • Teaching/learning and work environment, including hours of work and workload, class size and PTRs, and health and safety issues
  • Policies related to and management of teacher rewards, salaries and incentives
  • Teachers’ social security
  • Social dialogue and labour relations within the teaching profession
  • Initial and further teacher education and training as part of lifelong professional development.

An index contains an alphabetical listing of hundreds of key words and phrases that allows users to access the module(s) for that subject.

The ILO has also produced the ILO Policy Guidelines on the promotion of decent work for early childhood education personnel ( sector/ Resources/ codes-of-practice-and-guidelines/ WCMS_236528/ lang--en/ index.htm), which provide policy guidance for early childhood education teachers and other staff related to: general roles and responsibilities, including for public and private education providers, trade unions and other stakeholders; objectives and policies, including curricula, teaching methodology and financing; teacher education and training; recruitment, deployment and retention; professional and career development; employment terms and conditions; learning and teaching conditions; social security and social protection; ECE personnel evaluation; and governance and social dialogue.

2.3.7 World Bank

The World Bank’s online Systems Approach for Better Results in Education (SABER) contains a teacher component, SABER-Teachers ( index.cfm?indx=8&pd=1&sub=0), which documents and analyses teacher policies in public schools of education systems in fifty middle and low-income countries and territories. SABER-Teachers collects, organizes and analyses information to classify levels (latent to advanced) at which education systems reach policy goals and publishes a framework paper on teacher policies, country and regional analytical reports on eight policy goals:

  • Setting clear expectations for teachers
  • Attracting the best people into teaching
  • Preparing teachers with useful training and experience
  • Matching teachers’ skills with students’ needs
  • Leading teachers – with strong principals
  • Monitoring teaching and learning
  • Supporting teachers to improve instruction
  • Motivating teachers to perform.

The information and analytical reports can be used by policy and decision-makers to determine how their systems and comparable national systems meet policy objectives as a means to develop or revise teacher policies. Supporting laws from selected countries in the national languages are also available for consultation through the SABER website links.

2.3.8 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

The OECD annually publishes a report on education indicators in member countries and a number of middle-income partner countries. The most recent edition, Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators ( edu/ eag.htm), contains teacher indicators and analysis on:

  • Teacher salaries
  • PTRs and class size
  • Teaching time
  • Initial teacher education and professional entry requirements
  • Professional development.

The indicators provide very detailed cross-country comparisons, which can help policy-makers assess their country’s performance and progress over time in reaching certain policy goals as measured by the indicators.

Roughly every five years, the OECD also publishes the results of a survey of teachers and school leaders from more than thirty member and partner countries. The most recent publication, Talis 2013 Results: An International Perspective on Teaching and Learning ( 10.1787/ 9789264196261-en) emphasizes the experiences of teachers and school leaders in areas that research suggests can influence effective teaching, including: teachers’ initial training and professional development; feedback from teacher evaluations; the classroom and school environment; teacher job satisfaction; and teachers’ perceptions of their professional abilities. The report examines more closely than most international reports the intangible factors that influence individuals to choose teaching as a career, remain in the profession throughout the length of their career, stay motivated and perform effectively. It looks beyond statistics and indicators to understand the personal desires and frustrations affecting millions of teachers in their daily work, thereby helping to influence policy measures to create the best teaching and learning environment.

2.3.9 Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

The GPE maintains a focus area on teachers in its website and has published the Education Sector Analysis Methodological Guidelines ( content/ methodological-guidelines-education-sector-analysis-volume-1). Volume 1 of the guidelines focuses on primary and secondary education, providing guidance on integrating teacher policies in education sector policies and plans.

You can now take the Chapter 2 quiz to try to earn your badge for this chapter

Now go to Chapter 3 Dimensions.


International standards
ILO/UNESCO. 1966. Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers. Geneva, International Labour Organization and Paris, UNESCO
United Nations. 1989. Convention on the Rights of the Child. New York, United Nations. EN/ ProfessionalInterest/ Pages/ CRC.aspx(Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Policies and plans
Ministry of Education, Brazil. 2007. The Plan for the Development of Education – Reasons, Principles and Programs. Brasilia, Ministry of Education. upload/ Brazil/ Brazil_PDE_Eng.pdf (Accessed 26 March 2018.)
Council of Ministers of Education Canada. 2008. Learn Canada 2020. Toronto, Council of Ministers of Education Canada. Publications/ Lists/ Publications/ Attachments/ 187/ CMEC-2020-DECLARATION.en.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Government of China. 2010. Outline of China’s National Plan for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development (2010–2020). Beijing, Government of China. upload/ China/ China_National_Long_Term_Educational_Reform_Development_2010-2020_eng.pdf (Accessed 26 March 2018.)
Government of Ghana. 2012. Education Strategic Plan 2010–2020 – Vol. 1: Policies, Strategies, Delivery, Finance and Vol. 2: Strategies and Work Programme. Accra, Ministry of Education, Government of Ghana. upload/ Ghana/ Ghana_ESP_2010_2020_Vol1.pdf and upload/ Ghana/ Ghana_ESP_2010_2020_Vol2.pdf (Accessed 26 March 2018.)
Teacher Service Commission. 2007. Sub-Sector Workplace Policy on HIV and AIDS. Nairobi, Teacher Service Commission. library/ documents/ teachers-service-commission-sub-sector-workplace-policy-hiv-and-aids (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Federal Ministry of Education, Nigeria. 2009. Roadmap for the Nigerian education sector. Consultative draft, April 2009. Lagos, Federal Ministry of Education. upload/ Nigeria/ Nigeria_Roadmap.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
US Department of Education. 2009. Race to the Top Program – Executive Summary. Washington, DC, US Department of Education. programs/ racetothetop/ executive-summary.pdf (Accessed 26 March 2018.)
Policy guidelines, manuals, handbooks, databases
Education International. 2004. Declaration on Professional Ethics. Brussels, Education International. docs/ IRISDocuments/ EI%20Publications/ Declaration%20of%20Professional%20Ethics/ 2008-00165-01-E.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Education International. 2014a. Ebola’s Ongoing Impact on African Teachers. Education International News, 17 September 2014. Brussels, Education International. en/ news/ news_details/ 3216(Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Education International. 2014b. Teachers and Education Unions: Ending Child Labour – A Resource Manual for Teachers and Education Unions. Brussels, EI. SiteDirectory/ ChildLabourEditorialGroup/ Doc/ 2014_EI_Manual_EndingChildLabour_E.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
GPE. 2014. Education Sector Analysis Methodological Guides, Vol. 1. Washington, DC, Global Partnership for Education. (
INEE. 2009. INEE Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensation in Fragile States, Situations of Displacement and Post-Crisis Recovery. New York, Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies. en/ teacher-compensation-initiative (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
INEE. 2013. Guiding Principles on Integrating Conflict Sensitivity in Education Policy and Programming in Conflict-Affected and Fragile Contexts. New York, Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies. toolkit/ INEEcms/ uploads/ 1150/ INEE_Guiding_principles_A3_English%5B1%5D.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
IIEP and GPE. 2012. Guidelines for Education Sector Plan Preparation and Appraisal. Paris, UNESCO. fileadmin/ user_upload/ Cap_Dev_Technical_Assistance/ pdf/ 121106-Guidelines-for-Education-Sector-Plan-Preparation-and-Appraisal-EN.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
ILO. 2012. Handbook of Good Human Resource Practices in the Teaching Profession. Geneva, International Labour Organization. (Accessed 21 March 21.)
ILO. 2014. ILO Policy Guidelines on the Promotion of Decent Work for Early Childhood Education Personnel. Geneva, International Labour Organization. sector/ Resources/ codes-of-practice-and-guidelines/ WCMS_236528/ lang--en/ index.htm (Accessed 21 March 21.)
ILO and UNESCO. 2006a. An HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy for the Education Sector in the Caribbean. Geneva, International Labour Organization. sector/ activities/ topics/ hiv-aids/ WCMS_159530/ lang--en/ index.htm. (Accessed 21 March 21.)
ILO. 2006b. An HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy for the Education Sector in Southern Africa. Geneva, International Labour Organization. sector/ activities/ topics/ hiv-aids/ WCMS_160799/ lang--en/ index.htm. (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Poisson, M. 2009. Guidelines: For the Effective Design and Use of Teacher Codes of Conduct. Paris, International Institute for Educational Planning and UNESCO. teachercodes/ guidelines/ Guidelines.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Tomasevski, K. 2004. Manual on Rights-based Education: Global Human Rights Requirements Made Simple. Bangkok, UNESCO. images/ 0013/ 001351/ 135168e.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)UNESCO. 2000. Dakar Framework for Action – Education For All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments. Paris, UNESCO. images/ 0012/ 001211/ 121147e.pdf. (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
UNESCO. 2010. Methodological Guide for the Analysis of Teacher Issues: Teacher Training Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA) Teacher Policy Development Guide. Paris, UNESCO. images/ 0019/ 001901/ 190129e.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
UNESCO. 2012a. General Education Quality Analysis/Diagnostic Framework. Paris, UNESCO. new/ en/ education/ themes/ strengthening-education-systems/ quality-framework/. (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
UNESCO. 2014b. Teaching Respect for All. Paris. Paris, UNESCO. images/ 0022/ 002279/ 227983E.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
OREALC. 2013. Background and Criteria for Teacher Policy Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Santiago, UNESCO Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean. wp-content/ blogs.dir/ 1/ files_mf/ politicasdocentesingles27082013.pdf (Accessed 21 March 21.)
World Bank. 2013. What Matters Most for Teacher Policies: A Framework Paper. Washington, DC, World Bank. documents/ hdn/ ed/ saber/ supporting_doc/ Background/ TCH/ Framework_SABER-Teachers.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
World Bank. 2014. Systems Approach for Better Results in Education (SABER)–Teachers. Washington, DC, World Bank. index.cfm?indx=8andtb=1 (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Research, reports, studies
Bennell, P. 2011. A UPE15 Emergency Programme for Primary School Teachers, Background paper for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report. Paris, UNESCO. images/ 0021/ 002186/ 218659e.pdf (Accessed 26 March 2018.)
Bennell, P. and Akyeampong, K. 2007. Teacher Motivation in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Department for International Development: Educational Papers. pdf/ outputs/ policystrategy/ researchingtheissuesno71.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Bruns, B; Evans, D.; Luque, J. 2012. Achieving World-Class Education in Brazil: The Next Agenda. Washington, DC, World Bank. bitstream/ (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. 2014. ‘Education in Canada: An Overview’, ‘Student and Teacher Mobility’ and ‘Establishing a Pan-Canadian Credential Assessment Centre for Internationally Educated Teachers’. Toronto, Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. en/ (Accessed 15 November 2019.)
Federal Ministry of Education, Nigeria. 2012. The Four-Year Strategic Plan for the Development of the Education Sector: 2011–2015
– 2012 Implementation Report. Lagos, Federal Ministry of Education. documents/ 2012-ImplementationReport.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Finnish National Board of Education. 2014. Education in Finland: Teachers in Finland–Trusted Professionals. Helsinki., Finnish National Board of Education. download/ 148960_Teachers_in_Finland.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Hargreaves, A. and Braun, H. 2013. Data-driven Improvement and Accountability. Boulder, CO, National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado. files/ pb-lb-ddia-policy.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Hunt, F. 2013. Review of National Policies on Learning and Teaching. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2013/14. Paris, UNESCO. ulis/ cgi-bin/ (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
ILO and UNESCO. 2010. Report, Joint ILO/UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations concerning Teaching Personnel. (Tenth session. Paris, 28 September – 2 October 2009.) Paris, UNESCO.
International Task Force on Teachers for EFA. 2011a. Addressing the Teacher Gap through Efficient and Effective Policies and Practices: Country Reports of Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Uganda. Paris, UNESCO. v2/ phocadownload/ consoldidatedcasestudies_anglophone.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
UNESCO. 2011b. Addressing the EFA Teacher Gap: What Makes Effective Policies and Practices in Asian Countries? Case Studies on: Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Report of the Hanoi Workshop, November 28–29, 2011. Paris, UNESCO. v2/ phocadownload/ hanoi_workshop.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Mbelle, A. 2008.The Impact of Reforms on the Quality of Primary Education in Tanzania. Research Report 08.1. Dar es Salaam, Research on Poverty Alleviation. documents_storage/ 08.1%20Amon%20V.Y.%20Mbelle.pdf (Accessed 26 March 2018.)
Moon, B. 2013. The Management of Teacher Education – Trends in Policies and Practice: What Works, Why and for Whom? 6th Policy Dialogue Forum of the International Task Force on Teachers for EFA. Kinshasa, DRC. 27–28 November 2013. Paris. UNESCO (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Nordstrum, L. 2013. Teacher Supply, Training and Cost in the Context of Rapidly Expanding Enrolment: Ethiopia, Pakistan and Tanzania. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2013/14. Paris, UNESCO. ulis/ cgi-bin/ (Accessed 26 March 2018.)
OECD. 2005. Teachers Matter: Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers. Paris, OECD Publishing. edu/ school/ attractingdevel opingandretainingeffectiveteachers-homepage.htm (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
OECD. 2014a.Talis 2013 Results: An International Perspective on Teaching and Learning. Paris, TALIS, OECD Publishing. 10.1787/ 9789264196261-en (Accessed 24 October 2019)
OECD. 2014b. Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators. Paris, OECD Publishing. edu/ Education-at-a-Glance-2014.pdf (Accessed 24 October 2019)
Ratteree, B. 2004. Teachers, their Unions and the Education for All Campaign. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2005 – The Quality Imperative. images/ 0014/ 001466/ 146693e.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
Sahlberg, P. 2010. The Secret to Finland’s Success: Educating Teachers. Research Brief. Stanford, CA, Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE sites/ default/ files/ publications/ secret-finland%E2%80%99s-success-educatingteachers.pdf) (Accessed 26 March 2018.)
UNESCO. 2006. Strong foundations: Early childhood care and education-EFA Global Monitoring Report, 2007. Paris, UNESCO. gem-report/ report/ 2007/ strong-foundations-early-childhood-care-education#sthash.LePVIkNg.dpbs (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
UNESCO. 2012b. Report – Indicators for Teachers and Teaching Expert Group Meeting. Paris, 3–4 October 2012. Paris, UNESCO, UIS, Teacher Task Force. v2/ phocadownload/ indicators_report.pdf (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
UNESCO. 2014a. Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All – EFA Global Monitoring Report, 2013/14. Paris. new/ en/ education/ themes/ leading-the-international-agenda/ efareport/ reports (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
OREALC. 2014a. Catastro de experiencias relevantes de políticas docentes en América Latina y el Caribe. Santiago, UNESCO Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean. (In Spanish.) new/ en/ santiago/ resources/ single/ publication/ news/ catastro_de_experiencias_relevantes_de_politicas_docentes_ en_america_latina_y_el_caribe-1/ #.VJrZXv_C3A (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
OREALC. 2014b. Temas críticos para formular nuevas políticas docentes en América Latina y el Caribe: el debate actual. Santiago, UNESCO Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean. (In Spanish.) new/ en/ santiago/ resources/ single-publication/ news/ temas_criticos_para_formular_nuevas_politicas_docentes_en_america_latina_y_el_caribe_el_debate_actual/ #.VJrZZf_C3A (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
UNESCO and UNAIDS-IATT. 2013. 2011–2012 Education Sector HIV and AIDS Global Progress Survey: Progression, Regression or Stagnation? Paris, UNESCO. library/ documents/ 2011-2012-education-sector-hiv-and-aids-global-progress-survey-progression (Accessed 21 March 2015.)
United Republic of Tanzania. 2006. Status of Implementation of Primary Education Development Plan, Presented to Workshop for Directors and Assistant Directors PMO–RALG held in Morogoro, April 2006. Dodoma, Tanzania, Republic of Tanzania.


  1. 4 The Checklist does not claim to be exhaustive. It lists major topics or issues that should be considered at a minimum in defining a coherent national teacher policy in relationship to education objectives/ goals set out in national education policies or plans. For more details, please consult the Checklist references.Back to main text


  1. 5 Care should be taken with the family element to avoid erecting barriers to schooling for poor families through open or disguised school fees.Back to main text


  1. 6 Care should be taken with the family element to avoid erecting barriers to schooling for poor families through open or disguised school fees.Back to main text


  1. 7 The list of organisations is not exhaustive, and does not include many regional intergovernmental and international organisations or regional non-governmental organisations engaged in education and/or teacher policy work of some kind. Links to many of these organisations may be obtained from the websites of the organisations listed in this section.Back to main text