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

2.1.2 Aligning teacher policy with education policy

2.1.3 Teacher policy across education levels and priorities