Aligning teacher policy with education policy continued
BOX 2.1: GHANA EDUCATION STRATEGIC PLAN 2010–2020 – TEACHER POLICY DIMENSIONS
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.
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.
BOX 2.2: EDUCATION OBJECTIVES AND TEACHER POLICY IN EAST AFRICA
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.
BOX 2.3: EDUCATION OBJECTIVES AND DE FACTO TEACHER POLICY IN FINLAND
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
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 policy||Teacher policy|
|Achieve quality education for every child/learner goals established at the national level:||Sufficient numbers of well-qualified teachers for every level of education:|
|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||Initial teacher preparation, certification and ongoing professional development programmes to meet expected learning outcomes:|
|Financing of the education system:||Financing of teacher preparation and employment:|
|Organization and governance of education:||Teacher management and support:|
|Learning environment and conditions:||Effective teaching and learning conditions:|
|Assessing the education system’s performance:||Teacher accountability: appraisal, roles and responsibilities|