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Chapter 4: Phases


This chapter considers some of the practical issues related to the process of developing a teacher policy. It builds on Chapter 2, which discusses the framing of teacher policies in different contexts, and Chapter 3, which describes various dimensions of teacher policy. It should be read in conjunction with Chapter 5, which considers key aspects of implementing national teacher education policies.

Teacher policy is a key aspect of public policy. It serves as an instrument for the direct allocation of public resources and actions. Its goal is to enhance teacher quality, thus improving teaching and student learning. For the process of policy development to succeed, it must be well planned from the outset; there are strong linkages between policy development, planning for implementation, implementation, and resourcing. Usually planning units in MoEs play a key role in the process. For example, the MoE in Singapore has a Planning Division, whose mission is ‘to formulate and review education policies as well as manage and analyse key MoE data to support MoE management in decision-making’ ( about/ org-structure/ pld).

The MoE/Department of Education (DoE) is a key actor in organizing the teacher policy development process. At the outset of such a process, the MoE should clarify the phases and stages of the process, identify the relevant bodies to be involved in the process, the timeframe, and the costs. An important consideration in developing any teacher policy is to ensure that there is a task force or group steering the process. Often, governments appoint a task force or committee of MoE personnel, together with experts including academics and representatives of partner organizations, such as teacher unions and donor agencies, to manage and lead the process. The committee’s tasks may include convening meetings, commissioning relevant research, overseeing consultations with stakeholders and generally organizing the policy process. Such a task force or group is ultimately accountable to the MoE.

It must be recognised that preparing a teacher policy is often a long, complex, and daunting task. There is no universal ‘one size fits all’ approach to policy development, as the process is highly context-specific. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Teacher Policy (2013) notes that ‘Any policy has to be set in context’, recognising that its policy is part of ‘the multi-faceted UNRWA Education Reform of which the Teacher Policy is one key aspect’. The type of policy to be developed – whether it will take the form of a legislative act or programme, or set of regulations or regulatory guidelines (Chapter 5) – also dictates the approach to be taken in the policy development processes, as each country has its own rules and procedures to be followed.

Activity: The six phases of policy development

Policy making can be conceptualised as a six-stage process. Section 4 describes the six phases of policy development.

For each phase, note down the key activities that are involved. Reflect on your own context and consider which processes could be improved.

4.1 Key phases

This section synthesizes numerous and contested models of policy development to provide a framework for the policy development process.Footnote 28 It presents the model below as an analytical tool to help policy-makers identify the key elements in formulating policy. However, it should be recognized that policy formulation and implementation is rarely a technical-rational exercise. Rather, it is an inherently political process. Policy-making as such is characterized by social conflict and struggles, as well as trade-offs between competing priorities and goals. It involves contestation between social forces and movements at all stages of the policy processes, from agenda-setting to formulation, adoption and implementation. This means that popular struggles can shape policy-making and policy outcomes, and can modify the teacher policy as contained in official texts.

Contestation about what constitutes policy, and therefore what should be included in any teacher policy, reflects different views of what is desirable and what is feasible. Rizvi and Lingard (2010) note that values are central to policy-making. A policy in the form of a text or document reflects particular values and is the ‘authoritative allocation of values’ (Rizvi and Lingard, 2010). As a value-laden exercise, policy development is a normative process in which certain voices are privileged while others are more marginalized, reflecting power differentials in society. This section therefore begins with a discussion of stakeholder participation in general and teacher involvement in particular. Meaningful consultation and participation of all stakeholders, particularly those who are marginalized, is crucial to all aspects of the policy development process, particularly during the agenda-setting phase.

The above discussion suggests that developing a policy is not a simple and straightforward process. The policy life-cycle approach suggested below should therefore be understood as an analytical tool to assist ministries in formulating policies. This framework should be used as a flexible guide to developing a teacher policy and not as a rigid, prescriptive model to be followed in a narrow and linear fashion. It should be emphasized that the phases suggested are often iterative and overlapping, and are not sharply distinguishable as is often implied. Public policy-making as argued above is a complex, multi-layered, and iterative activity, with often multiple policy initiatives underway simultaneously (Badat, 2014).

4.1.1 Consultation — ongoing and meaningful throughout the policy process

Consultations with appropriate groups should be embedded throughout the teacher policy development process; however, consultation with various stakeholders and interest groups once the policy has been drafted is also important.

The groups that should be consulted include local government bodies (where they exist), other ministries beyond the MoE, national and international civil society organizations, international agencies, private education providers, teachers, parents and learners, and the organizations that represent them.

Ensuring wide participation and varied voices in the policy process ensures that the concerns and viewpoints of different actors are taken into consideration. It also increases the likelihood that the policy, once completed, will have the support of the public, stakeholders, the front- line staff expected to implement it and funders (UNESCO and UNICEF, 2013). The consultation process has crucial impacts on public and professional responses during the implementation phase of the policy and, consequently, impacts on its outcomes (Adams, 2001; ILO/UNESCO, 2003; Ratteree, 2004; VSO, 2002a; VSO, 2002b; VSO, 2002c).

The complex power and political contexts in which invitation to and participation in consultation take place within and among institutions should be considered when coordinating participation (Lewis and Naidoo, 2004). Coordination should ensure that everyone involved has a voice and is respected, regardless of their power or influence in or outside of the policy process (ILO/UNESCO, 2003; ILO/UNESCO, 2008; VSO, 2002a; VSO, 2002b; VSO, 2002c). As many have argued, this inclusive process should include not only teachers, but also students (Flutter and Rudduck, 2004; Morgan, 2011; Pedder and McIntyre, 2006; Ratteree, 2004; Thompson, 2009).

The selection of policy options to realize policy objectives is rarely clear-cut, as different strategies may address the same problem. The consultation process can become intense and contested, requiring negotiation among interest groups. Thus, the consultation process is crucial to making policy choices, particularly when alternative strategies and interventions have been suggested to address the identified problems and issues.

Social dialogue and consultation take different forms in different countries. In Nigeria, consultation included a survey of public opinion in selected states (Box 4.1).


The Nigerian teacher policy process involved task force cooperation among the FME,UNESCO and USAID through the ENHANSE project (Enabling HIV and AIDS, TB and Social Sector Environment). The goals of the task force were to evaluate existing teacher education policy in Nigeria, to identify, analyse and ascertain problems, and to make recommendations for the development of a comprehensive national policy to those in government and involved in education.

The process included a wide range of stakeholders actively participating in identifying problems. Policy development involved meetings and consultations in six states of the country, using questionnaires, classroom observations, interviews and discussions. The outcome of this process was the identification of several policy choices, including: requiring mandatory teacher professional development, introducing teacher re-certification and licensing, introducing a code of conduct for teachers, introducing minimum qualifications and work experience, establishing new requirements for appointment of school Inspectors, and instituting regular supervision of schools.

Source: UNESCO, 2007.

As noted in Chapter 2, the involvement of teacher unions in education reform is not only a right, but is also essential to successful implementation. Teacher involvement in education and in the development of a teacher policy is more than simple consultation; it should substantively engage teachers in identifying and enacting in practice (implementation phase) the changes necessary to enhance education quality, recognizing teachers as professionals. In this respect, teacher unions play a crucial role in influencing and taking ownership of policies. A review of the involvement of teacher unions in education in Latin America (Gindin and Finger, 2013) features several examples of how teacher unions contribute to enhancing quality and equity. The authors highlight the case of Bolivia (Plurinational State of), where the teacher union, the Confederation of Rural Education Teachers Bolivia, played a key role in advocating for instruction in indigenous languages for indigenous groups (Gindin and Finger 2013: 17–20). They note how the union has been an important advocate for indigenous education rights in Bolivia, ensuring that such rights are constitutionally enshrined.

4.1.2 Phase 1: Issue identification and agenda-setting

The starting point in any teacher policy development process is agenda-setting, which involves identifying, agreeing on and clarifying the issues or problems requiring further government attention.

The teacher policy agenda may emanate from other sources besides government, such as public opinion, international agencies and teacher unions. Whatever the source, government plays a crucial role in taking up and acting on the agenda. The processes of agenda-setting and developing a teacher policy reflect power relationships – particularly in relation to such questions as ‘who can speak, when and with what authority’ (Ball, 1990: 17). Various actors and stakeholders have different power positions in society and bring these to the policy process. It is therefore important to pay attention to the manner in which – and by whom – the policy problem is identified and framed as it develops; power dynamics impact on the entire teacher policy development process, from the manner in which the proposed agenda evolves and is acted on, to which aspects eventually become policies.

Section 4.2 reviews the roles and responsibilities of relevant bodies in designing, drafting and validating a national teacher policy.

4.1.3 Phase 2: Policy formulation – analysis, principles and options/choices

Once the problems requiring policy attention have been identified and the teacher policy agenda has been agreed, the next phase is to develop the policy options and ideas for subsequent consultation. This stage requires gathering information and research to identify feasible and implementable policy options that could address the agreed agenda.

Needs/situational analysis/diagnosis

As mentioned in Phase 1 above, policy options are developed to fit particular social, political, economic and cultural contexts. They therefore require a needs analysis to examine the situation systematically, recommend the issues for immediate attention and determine ways of addressing them. Policy options should be costed, and consideration should be given to which policy instruments – legislation, programmes, or regulations – are most appropriate.

An important activity during this phase is a comprehensive situation analysis on teachers in the particular country, including those aspects impacting on teacher effectiveness, attrition and shortage. In post-conflict and post-disaster contexts, particular attention should be paid to key aspects such as teacher supply and deployment, as well as teachers’ role as agents of peace-building, reconciliation and disaster preparedness. Research is a key component of such a situation analysis, to identify the facts and those measures that are considered successful. Chapter 3 provides a synthesis and evidence of some of the main aspects.

Policy work in this phase should enable policy-makers to make informed decisions about the policy changes required to address the identified problem. It is likely that in the course of developing policy options, previously identified problems may change and new problems will be identified.

Agreeing on principles during policy formulation

A clear set of principles and factors should guide the teacher policy development process, at the heart of which should be a commitment to quality teaching and learning (see Box 4.2 for the example of UNRWA). Such a set of principles and factors should include:

  • Equity: will the policy result in greater equity in education? Do the options and choices consider the needs of marginalized and disadvantaged groups? How do the policy options and choices address disabilities?
  • Comprehensive and holistic: is the policy comprehensive? Does it address holistically the interrelated aspects of teacher quality, status and conditions, and teacher education? Is it integrated and linked to existing social and other education policies?
  • Financial sustainability: are the policy choices and options affordable and financially sustainable?
  • Feasibility: are the policy options and choices feasible and easy to implement? Are they manageable from an administrative standpoint? Is there adequate capacity to implement?

The aim of the Teacher Policy is to professionalize the teaching force within UNRWA to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools, recognizing the key role teachers play in ensuring quality education. The Policy seeks to provide support to teachers at school level and on-going professional development, whilst ensuring diversified, motivating career opportunities. It introduces new roles to facilitate school quality assurance, monitoring and assessment, and the overall coordination of professional development. The Teacher Policy also recognizes the need for enhanced support to the Chief’s office.

The vision of the Teacher Policy builds upon UNRWA’s mandate to provide free education for all of the children of Palestinian refugees. It is intended to create a teaching force that is

“committed to delivering the highest standards of education with high levels of performance and professional conduct to prepare Palestinian refugee children and youth for the 21st century in which they can live fulfilled, productive, creative and valued lives, contributing to their own development and that of the community, society and world.”

Source: UNRWA, 2013 (reproduced with permission).

Drafting policy options and choices – paying attention to costing and implementation

The drafting of policy options and choices should be consistent with the analysis of the situation in the country and the principles agreed upon. This is often the task of a dedicated group of people, who may comprise a Task Force or Commission established by the government or may be MoE officials. In some cases, the task force or MoE may choose to contract out the work to experts involved in the policy process. This is the phase where teacher education experts are sometimes brought in. A well-crafted teacher policy should clearly outline the vision, the issue to be addressed, the possible policy options and solution to the problems. Crucially, it should also include the costs and benefits of each policy option, as well as the conditions and implementation issues to be addressed for the policy to be successful.

Following consultations, a final policy document, setting out the agreed policy choices, should be issued.

4.1.4 Phase 3: Adoption/decision

The appropriate government official or body, such as the president, congress, minister, state legislators, agency officials or court, makes a decision about the final policy. Deliberations of such parties and bodies may, at times, result in the policy being altered or modified and, in exceptional cases, rejected in its entirety. However, the previously recommended consultation phase should help to mitigate this.

The process of policy approval and adoption depends on the country context. In many countries – where the final policy is regarded as a major plank in the government’s platform – a final draft is compiled for the parliament’s endorsement and approval. In other cases, the policy becomes a document of the MoE, requiring endorsement by the Minister of Education. Any policy that is endorsed may require governmental actions, including budgetary appropriation, changes in existing rules and new regulations. Laws-making differs in each country. In South Africa, for example, all major education policies are issued initially in draft form as white papers (and in some cases as green papers), after which they follow the parliamentary process of Bills, Readings and finally Act. Box 4.3 explains the general process of making a law in South Africa, which also applies to the adoption of a teacher policy.


Parliament is the national legislature (law-making body) of South Africa. As such, one of its major functions is to pass new laws, to amend existing laws, and to repeal or abolish (cancel) old laws. This function is guided by the Constitution of South Africa, which governs and applies to all law and conduct within South Africa.

Who Makes the Laws?

Both Houses of Parliament, the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), play a role in the process of making laws. A Bill or draft law can only be introduced in Parliament by a Minister, a Deputy Minister, a Parliamentary Committee, or an individual Member of Parliament (MP). About 90% of Bills are initiated by the Executive.

What Is a Law?

Law is a system of rules, usually enforced through a set of institutions to regulate human conduct. It shapes politics, economics and society in many ways. There are different types of laws, namely contract law, property law, trust law, criminal law, constitutional law and administrative law. Constitutional law provides a framework for the creation of law, the protection of human rights and the election of political representatives. Law also raises important issues concerning equality, fairness and justice.

The Process of Making a Law

The process of making a law may start with a discussion document called a Green Paper that is drafted in the Ministry or department dealing with a particular issue. This discussion document gives an idea of the general thinking that informs a particular policy. It is then published for comment, suggestions or ideas. This leads to the development of a more refined discussion document, a White Paper, which is a broad statement of government policy. It is drafted by the relevant department or task team and the relevant parliamentary committees may propose amendments or other proposals. After this, it is sent back to the Ministry for further discussion, input and final decisions.

What is a Bill?

It is a draft version of a law. Most Bills are drawn up by a government department under direction of the relevant minister or deputy minister. This kind of Bill must be approved by the Cabinet before being submitted to Parliament. Bills introduced by individual Members are called Private Members’ Legislative Proposals. A Bill becomes an Act when the State President of South Africa gives assent – that is, signs the Bill. In the case of Provincial Bills they become acts when the Provincial Premier gives assent.

Before a new Act comes into force, it has to be ‘enacted’. This process involves the State President declaring its commencement date in the Government Gazette. For an Act to be fully enacted, the responsible Ministry/department has to indicate that it is ready and has the requisite capacity to implement the new law.

Source: Parliament of South Africa, 2014 ( live/ content.php?Item_ID=1843).

The process of making law is subject to contestation and conflict, and often involves legal challenges. In federal states, for example, provinces, regions or states may challenge central government if they are held responsible for financing the implementation of the law. Box 4.4 describes the contestation over the Right to Free Education Act in India.


The Indian government initiated legislative action in 2002 to ensure that its education policy was in keeping with global shifts in national education policies, seeking to make free and compulsory education a fundamental right for all children in India between ages 6–14.To this end, building on existing legislation in the Indian constitution, the 86th Amendment Act (2002) Article 21A (Part III) was initiated in December 2002.

By October 2003, a first draft of the legislation, the Free and Compulsory Education for Children Bill, 2003, was formulated and made available for public consultation. The public was invited to comment and suggest possible areas of change or improvement.

In 2004, after taking into account public feedback, a revised draft of the bill was issued,entitled Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2004.This was reviewed further in 2005 by the Ministry of Human Resources and Development and the Prime Minister. However,in 2006 the Finance Committee and Planning Commission rejected the bill, on the basis of insufficient funding. As a result, a model bill was sent to the states to make the required arrangements for its funding and implementation.

After much debate and many legal appeals, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008, was passed in both houses of Parliament in 2009. The law received the President’s approval in August 2009. Article21-A and the Right to Education Act came into effect on April 1, 2010.

Despite its approval, the Act was subject to legal appeals, especially because the states were asked to fund implementation of the policy. In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld Parliament’s approval, making implementation the legal responsibility of each state..

Sources: Selva 2009; Radhakrisshnan, 2012

4.1.5 Phase 4: implementation – communication and dissemination

Chapter 5  of this Guide deals more extensively with implementation of approved policy.

This section discusses the issue of communication and dissemination.

Because of its level of ‘concreteness’, the implementation process highlights the existing structural capacities, as well as stakeholders’ actual ability to yield the desired change. In some cases, this may require rethinking and adjusting aspects of the policy.

Effective implementation of the policy should be promoted through well-designed information campaigns targeted at all stakeholders, as well as other interested groups (Box 4.5 provides an example from UNRWA). Promoting the policy increases the probability of successful implementation, as it builds public support and endorsement, which are crucial to achieving the desired goals. Media exposure can help ensure that the public understands and supports the policy process.


Advocacy and communication prior to the start of the implementation of the Teacher Policy is essential. This shall include:

  • Field level advocacy and communication towards education stakeholders, including education staff, parents and communities; and
  • Headquarters to support Fields (offices outside headquarters) through:
    • i.Meetings with the unions
    • ii.Production and dissemination to the Fields of materials regarding the Educational Reform in general and the Teacher Policy in particular
    • iii.Advocacy meetings in the Field.
Source: UNRWA, 2013 (reproduced with permission).

4.1.6 Phase 5: Monitoring and evaluation

The policy development process should include a clear plan for monitoring and evaluation, to help determine whether the implemented policy is achieving the intended objectives. Timely provision of sound information can improve a policy’s relevance, efficiency and effectiveness. Efforts to improve the use of information focus on making it more usable by policy-makers, particularly in the wake of calls for more ‘country-led monitoring and evaluation systems’ (UNICEF, 2009). Monitoring and evaluation should measure the policy’s effectiveness in addressing the problems originally identified, and determine whether the policy is bringing about the desired changes. The problems identified during monitoring and evaluation may require changes in policy design. However, the monitoring and evaluation process should not simply be summative and conducted at the end of the process. It should also include formative and continuous monitoring to adjust the policy as it is being implemented (see Chapter 5  for a more detailed discussion). The main aim of robust monitoring and evaluation of a teacher policy should be to enhance and improve the policy; as such, it should be framed within a continuous improvement approach.

4.2 Roles and responsibilities

A clear delineation of the roles of the different players involved in the process is vital to an effective policy development process (UNESCO and UNICEF, 2013), and ensures that the views of different stakeholders are reflected and incorporated into a final policy text. Thus, a crucial step in any teacher policy process is to identify relevant institutions and organizations, including MoEs, ministries of finance, schools, organizations representing teachers and students, parents’ associations, and international agencies (OECD, 2005). Different stakeholders play different roles at different stages of the policy process. For example, adoption/decision-making is usually the prerogative of parliaments or equivalent legislature in contexts where a teacher policy passes through a legislative process. Table 4.1 lists some of the main stakeholders and indicates their potential roles and positive involvement in the policy cycle. As noted earlier, all relevant bodies should crucially be involved in all stages of the policy development process to ensure effective policy development.

Body/OrganizationRolesImpact of involvement on policy process
  • Teachers and their representatives (e.g. teacher unions)
  • Provide teachers’practical experiences.
  • Represent teacher concerns/needs.
  • Participate in drafting and validating a policy.
  • Teachers are essential to improving education at every level.
  • They are responsible for implementing policy. Involvement ensures that policy is effectively implemented and that teachers feel valued (OECD, 2005)
  • Teacher/Teacher regulatory bodies (e.g., teacher councils.
  • Provide forum for profession-led policy development/input.
  • Contribute to professionalising the teaching profession, achieving a balance between professional autonomy and public accountability, such as have long characterised other professions such as medicine, engineering and law.
  • Government – including MoE and ministry of finance (in federal states, regional/provincial/state governments must also be involved, particularly where they have concurrent powers over education and raise revenues)
  • Facilitate the process.
  • Responsible for ensuring policy is adopted and adequately resourced.
  • Facilitate needs assessment.
  • Lead the policy process
  • Ensure that implementation achieves the desired goals.
  • Secure political commitment.
  • Ensure professionalism, accountability, efficiency and competence, resulting in development of an effective policy (ILO, 2012).
  • The ministry of finance is crucial in ensuring that the policy is adequately financed and consistent with national development plan and budgets
  • Scholars and researchers, ‘think tanks’ (e.g. policy and research institutes)
  • Provide expertise, input and evidence to inform policy options.
  • Possible members of task force for situational analysis/drafting policy.
  • Enable informed decision and evidence-based policy formulation.
  • School leaders (head teachers and deputy head teachers)
  • Provide experiences and understanding of those involved in managing schools
  • School leaders are essential in ensuring effective teaching and learning at the school level and enhancing teacher quality
  • Parents and their representatives (e.g. PTAs)
  • Represent the needs/concerns of parents/local communities
  • Act as link to school communities
  • Local involvement and ownership are fundamental to development of a teacher policy.
  • Local involvement ensures effective buy-in and support for policy implementation.
  • Students and their representatives (e.g., student representative councils)
  • Often overlooked. Attempts to develop education policies in general, and teacher education policies in particular, should include the learners.
  • Ultimately, their understanding and involvement in policy impacts on education quality.
  • Private sector
  • Represents the needs and interests of companies and businesses in policy development.
  • In many countries, they are education providers at all levels, including in some cases providers of teacher education through private higher education institutions
  • Where there are private providers of teacher education, they have an important role to play in policy development.
  • The private sector also provides perspectives of companies and businesses about education in general and teachers and teacher education in particular.
  • International agencies
  • May fund the process.
  • Provide accountability checks and balances.
  • Support drafting of the policy.
  • Technical assistance.
  • Capacity-building.
  • Where donor funding or involvement is required or necessary, donors and other aid agencies have an important role to play.
  • Provide international agency perspectives on teacher policy.

The above table suggests some of the main stakeholders and relevant bodies that should be involved in the policy formulation process. The particular list for a given case is best determined at the country level, taking into account the specific socio-political and socio-economic context. Effective involvement of relevant bodies and stakeholders is contingent upon meaningful participation and capacity. In principle, stakeholders should have a say (as noted above) in all aspects of policy development, although not at the adoption stage (even though stakeholders may influence the process, for example by lobbying parliamentary representatives), which is mainly the prerogative of elected parliamentary representatives. Teachers, through their representative structures (such as unions) are a key constituency that should be involved in any teacher policy development process.

Participation requires creating spaces and mechanisms that facilitate social dialogue between government authorities and stakeholders, particularly as it regards teachers. In a democracy, the different stages of policy-making may be relatively public, open, and accessible to citizens, and the law may facilitate the participation of social actors in policy-making. Badat (2014) notes that such participation may take different forms, including formal and informal requests by those developing the policy for advice, consultations with statutory bodies such as teacher service commissions, and submissions and advocacy by stakeholders at public hearings and other events. As noted above, it is important to recognize that stakeholders possess very different and often unequal policy resources, including expertise and finances to engage in policy development.

Meaningful involvement and relationship-building require a culture of transparency and openness: stakeholders and relevant bodies involved in policy development should therefore be committed to the highest level of honest and open communication, and be willing to listen and to share information.

Information is crucial to participation, and governments should be committed to making information widely available. Open government and unrestricted access to information – to which many countries have committed – ensure that stakeholders and relevant bodies involved in teacher policy development are able to make informed choices and decisions.

Box 4.6 lists some questions that may help define the roles of relevant bodies and organize policy consultation.


  • Have all bodies and stake holders affected by teacher policy been identified?
  • Are learners, teachers and parents, as well as their representatives, included as key actors?
  • Are the roles of the relevant bodies involved in the policy development process clearly defined and agreed upon?
  • Have all those involved been provided with adequate information about the need for a policy and their own roles?
  • Is there a need to provide training and support for relevant bodies and stakeholders involved in this process?
  • Does this process require expert input? If so, by whom?
  • Is information relevant to the policy process available to and widely shared with all stakeholders?
Source: Elaboration by the authors

4.3 Costing

The financial aspects of a teacher policy must be examined in the early stages of its development. Failure to effectively link policy-making and national budgetary processes is one of the main contributors to ineffective policy implementation. For instance, neglecting to consider the funding aspect of a policy could result in ‘unfunded mandates’.

To strengthen linkages between policy, planning and budgeting, many countries rely on a multi-year budgeting process, which often takes the form of a medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) (Box 4.7).


  • Baseline budgets: Understand the cost of policy commitments by rigorous analysis;
  • Programme evaluation: Understand which policies work and which do not, and why;
  • Fiscal space: Forecast the amount of additional resources that can be allocated to implement new polices.
Source: Elaboration by the authors

Sector MTEFs are integrated into national multi-year fiscal frameworks, ensuring that resources are allocated for policy priorities within the national budget and within a reasonably long-term framework. This can be significant, particularly in developing countries, where most of the resources are often committed to existing programmes, and financing new policy implementation is difficult.

Financing a new policy depends on the priority given to the problem, the costs and the availability of resources to implement the policy. New policies’ priority within the long- and medium-term education sector plans must be clearly defined. Moreover, the new policy needs to be carefully and realistically budgeted.Footnote 29 MoEs may need to strengthen their technical capacity for financial policy modelling, costing and gathering of financial data (Clarke, 2010). When considering the costs of the policy process, costing of the implementation phase of the process should be included (UNESCO, 2007).

Well-considered financial planning of policies can contribute to the development of sustainable and effective teacher policies. Different countries have adopted different strategies in costing teacher policies: in Kenya, for example, costing involved an analysis of existing resources and sources of potential additional funding for the policy process (Box 4.8).


Several aspects of costing were involved in developing the 2005 Kenya Education Policy. First, potential sources of available resources were identified, such as donor agencies and institutions interested in the issue being explored. Examining existing collaborations between government and other organizations, such as local authority trust funds and World Bank-funded projects, incorporated an appreciation of ongoing projects and how any new policy development would impact them in the short- or long-term.

Analysing these relationships and coordinating new and ongoing resources was seen as crucial to developing and implementing a cost-effective policy. When drafting the policy, costs for each policy objective were thus estimated, including every one of its elements, such as retention schemes, human resources, curriculum development, etc. The costs were estimated for the proposed lifetime of the policy, taking into account how long it was expected to run.

Source: Kenya: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, 2005.

In South Africa, costing also involved considering the legal responsibilities of the institutions involved in funding education policies (Box 4.9).


The Integrated Strategic Framework for Teacher Education and Development was jointly developed by the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training. Costing the policy involved gathering information on several aspects:

  • Legal advice on funding mechanisms was solicited from the legal team of the DoE
  • Information was collected about sources, such as state budgetary allocations for teacher training
  • Documents, such as budget statements, were analysed
  • Discussions about available finances for teacher development were held with the provincial education departments, universities and national student financial aid programmes
  • There were also consultations about available resources with officials of the Ministry of Finance, who were helpful in providing accurate information about available funding opportunities.

This wide-ranging analysis provided information about available resources, where and how they could be accessed or utilised.

Source: adapted with permission for the South Africa: Department of Basic Education and Department of Higher Education and Training, 2011.

Potential barriers to taking such an approach – such as lack of transparency about available resources – must be considered. Thus, costing the policy process includes identifying all elements and the main objectives of the policy involved. All the objectives, and the actions needed to achieve them, are costed individually.

4.4 Conditions for successful teacher policy development

This section lists some important issues to be considered when formulating a teacher policy that is more likely to be effectively implemented. A successful teacher policy is clear and specific in its choices to address key challenges.

4.4.1 Consistency between new policy and existing policies and structures

Teacher policy development should not occur in isolation from other policies in general, and education policies in particular. Moreover, any teacher policy process should build on existing policy. When introducing a new teacher policy, a thorough analysis should be undertaken to investigate how the new policy may impact on existing policies and what changes, if any, need to be made to the existing policy. Coherence and collaboration should be ensured among different sections/departments of MoEs, as well as with other ministries. In some instances, this may require creating new structures and bodies, such as teacher service commissions, which oversee various aspects of teacher governance, including recruitment and deployment. Where such structures exist, their roles may be redefined in light of a teacher policy – for example, if a teacher policy advocates for decentralising teacher deployment to either the provincial/regional or school level.

4.4.2 Comprehensive strategic planning

Integrated strategic planning is crucial to effective policy development. A teacher policy needs to be an integral part both of other education policies and of governments’ overall strategic plans.

In South Africa, the 2009 Teacher Development Summit called for the development and subsequent implementation of an integrated plan for teacher education and development. The government commissioned working groups and issued an Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa, which guides numerous actions for 2011–2015, based on the comprehensive review of the sector and aligned to its twenty-five-year education plan. Even given these coordinated efforts, inconsistencies still exist between these education plans and the National Development Plan, reinforcing the need for an integrated planning process (DBE and DHET, 2011).

4.4.3 Engaging teachers

Teachers are the main stakeholders in teacher policies; their understanding, acceptance and support of a teacher policy is vital to its successful implementation. The concept is enshrined in the 1966 Recommendation, which considers the inclusion of teachers and teachers’ organisations in a wide range of educational policy development – as well as employers, workers, parents and other stakeholders – a cornerstone of education policy development (ILO/ UNESCO, 1966: Articles 9, 10k). Active teacher involvement in policy development and implementation, and teachers’ sense of ‘ownership’, underlie the success of any reform (ILO/UNESCO, 2003; OECD, 2005; Yelland and Pont, 2014: 35).

As noted above, social dialogue with teachers can take different forms at different phases of the policy formulation and implementation stages.

  • Information sharing can employ a wide array of communication channels among education authorities and teachers, from high-level policy meetings with teachers’ organizations on the whole range of a teacher policy to workplace (school and classroom) discussions on implementation, involving oral or written communications in varying degrees of formality.
  • Consultation, in which authorities actively and respectfully listen to the views of teachers without any commitment to act on these views, may be formal or informal, but should be at least meaningful. In other words, the consultation process should be genuinely open to the possibility of changing policies based on proposals from both authorities/employers and teachers/unions engaged in the consultation process. Consultation subjects may include initial teacher education and professional development programmes; curricula; teacher assessment; codes of professional conduct or ethics; school organization and innovations in learning as part of education reforms: and school infrastructure adapted to the specifics of learning needs in a country or system. Many OECD countries successfully rely on consultation forms and institutions related to these matters to develop their education and teacher policy reforms (Asia Society, 2014; ILO, 2012: 206–207; ILO/UNESCO, 1966; Yelland and Pont, 2014: 36).
  • Participation, which involves granting teachers a role in decision-making through a school- or system-based council or committee structure without necessarily implying a negotiated agreement, is a compromise between consultation and negotiation. Teaching councils in many countries, or other professional standard-setting bodies such as those that exist in the United States and South Africa, are examples of engaging teachers in participatory forms of policy development (ILO, 2012: 207-208; MacBeath, 2012; 109 – see also Chapter 3 on standards).
  • Negotiation is a social dialogue that often takes the form of collective bargaining on the terms and conditions of employment – including salaries and performance assessment, hours of work and related workplace conditions – that have implications for other teaching and learning policies, such as teacher hiring and PTRs/class sizes. Negotiation is more likely to apply to the translation of a policy into action than to its elaboration (ILO, 2012: 203, 205, 206).

To be effective, social dialogue requires some conditions (ILO, 2012: 205–206):

  • Strong, independent, representative and democratic teachers’ organisations and, where organized, education employers’organisations, whether public or private
  • Political will, trust and commitment of all parties to engage in these processes, including both educational authorities who develop a policy and teachers’ organisations that are not always accustomed to, or do not always have the capacity to engage in, policy development and application
  • Respect for the fundamental rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining as a basis for institutionalised social dialogue
  • Social dialogue institutions, since informal or ad hoc forms of social dialogue are unlikely to have a lasting impact. A statutory framework based on social conduct laws in their various forms is vital for consultative bodies with defined responsibilities and structures (for representation on issues such as teacher education programmes, professional standards and curricula for better learning outcomes) or for collective bargaining on employment terms and conditions (such as salaries and working hours, whether at the national, local or school level).

Various forms of social dialogue used to engage teachers in the policy process may feature considerable overlap between policy development and implementation (see also Chapter 5). It is therefore important to plan for these implications in the development process, for example by adopting a policy on teacher salaries that anticipates the negotiation process – which may in turn determine whether, and how, the policy will be implemented. While a true consultation may be difficult and time-consuming, token consultation and a rushed process places successful policy implementation at risk.

4.4.4 Evidence-informed policy (EIP) development

EIP has been promoted in the last few decades in the field of development studies. Policy development should consider the available evidence to design teacher policies resulting in better outcomes. EIP is particularly important in developing countries (Sutcliffe and Court, 2005). Facilitating EIP may require developing the country’s research capacity and fostering the systematic integration of research and policy. Likewise, to facilitate greater use of evidence by policy-makers, academic researchers need to strengthen their understanding of the policy research nexus and of how to communicate relevant policy evidence to policy-makers (Segone, 2008).

Evidence-informed policy development requires managing and collecting data for use in teacher policy development (and implementation – see Chapter 5). An effective TMIS may help manage the data, either as a stand-alone database or component of a larger EMIS. A TMIS may feature data relating to all aspects of the teaching force important to a teacher policy. Certain conditions determine the usefulness of a TMIS (or EMIS) for effective policy, including: reliability, consistency and timeliness of data across education levels and administrative boundaries (national and decentralized); funding, maintenance and technical support capacity over time; user and core professional engagement (notably teachers and principals/head teacher) in planning, testing, piloting, rolling out and feedback; and user friendliness, training and capacity (ILO, 2012: 13–14).

4.4.5 Country ownership

Ownership of the policy process by developing countries is among the foundational principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, which hold that:

  • Partner countries commit to exercise leadership in developing and implementing their national development strategies through broad consultative processes
  • Donors commit to respecting partner countries’ leadership, and help strengthen their capacity to exercise it (OECD, 2005/2008: 3).

Clarity about roles is therefore essential – particularly with regard to ownership, when international agencies are involved in policy development.

The Paris Declaration clearly indicates that the policy development process must be a country-led process. National governments are accountable for preparing their development-oriented policies and strategies through broad consultation. When international consultants or donors provide technical assistance for policy-making, national governments must ensure that the process is designed to develop national capacities.

The Accra Agenda for Action in 2008 notes that while recipient countries will ‘strengthen the quality of policy design’, donors should commit to ‘capacity building of the development actors – parliaments, central and local governments, CSOs, research institutes, media and the private sector’, so that they are empowered to play an active role in the policy development process (OECD, 2005/2008: 16).

4.4.6 Capacity of MoEs

A precondition for developing sound teacher policies is that the MoE/DoE must have the necessary human resources, with adequate technical expertise. An assessment of training needs should be carried out to ensure that civil servants and officials are able to effectively manage the public policy-making process. Box 4.10 indicates some sections in MoEs with important roles in policy-making; Table 4.2 features a checklist for assessing capacity.



Planning units within the MoEs are usually responsible for coordinating all education policies. They should be positioned to effectively manage and coordinate the process with other departments and external experts, such as academics or legal experts. They should possess thorough knowledge of the policy process and the skills it requires, including policy modelling, costing and research.


The finance units within MoEs or social policy units within the ministries of finance are key to effective policy development. They should be able to provide accurate costing of policy options, and have knowledge of budgetary constraints and commitments. Where MoEs have finance units, they should effectively engage and negotiate with teams in the ministry of finance.

Source: Elaboration by the authors
  • Is sufficient time officially allocated for policy work?
  • Does the ministry have sufficient numbers of staff with adequate knowledge and expertise about policy?
  • Do staff have adequate knowledge of policy-making?
  • Is training needed to equip staff with relevant policy-making skills and knowledge, including skills in the legislative law-making process?
  • Are there robust coordination mechanisms among the different sections in the MoEs and with other ministries?
Source: Elaboration by the authors

4.5 Timeframe and roadmap

As stated earlier in this chapter, the MoE/DoE is a key actor in organising the teacher policy development process. The Ministry should, at the outset of a teacher development process, clarify the phases and stages of the process, identify the relevant bodies to be involved, the timeframe and the costs.

Developing and implementing policies (Chapter 5) is a costly, time-consuming and complex enterprise, both technically and politically. Providing a suitable timeframe is thus crucial to ensuring support from teachers and other stakeholders. A roadmap can be helpful in outlining how the goals of the policy will be implemented and realised. For instance, South Africa’s Integrated Strategic Framework for Teacher Education was planned for overall implementation between 2011 and 2025. Each individual objective within this policy has its own specified schedule for implementation including timeframe, resources, and targets.

Clearly identifying priorities within the policy can help determine the timeframes and order in which activities to advance policy objectives will be initiated. Success of some policy objectives may depend on other policy objectives being achieved. Therefore, timeframes of some activities or policy objectives may act as foundations for other activities. The relationships between the different facets of the policy goal should thus be well analysed and understood (Haddad, 1995; WHO, 2001; ILO, 2012).

The checklist in Table 4.3 suggests some key questions to address in developing a timeframe for the policy roadmap.

  • Is there clarity on what needs to be done first?
  • Are all resources needed to implement the policy in place?
  • Is the timeframe realistic and feasible?
  • Is there a clear roadmap for implementing the policy?
  • Are all actors clear about what they need to do and by when?

We conclude this chapter by providing a detailed case study of the development of South Africa’s teacher policy (Box 4.11). South Africa presents an interesting example of the policy development process and progress made to date. It is similar in many ways to the policy cycle and planning framework – including its overlapping and non-sequential aspects – discussed in this chapter.

Chapter 5 focuses on plans and organizational capacity for implementing an agreed national teacher policy.


Prior to the significant democratic change in 1994, teacher education and development were fragmented along apartheid lines. In 1995, a teacher education audit was completed, which pointed out the effects of the separate provisions, the challenges which existed to improve them and options to address them. Teacher education was a provincially controlled competence, with 102 colleges of education of varying quality, generally low, in operation. The audit was followed by the adoption of the 1996 Norms and Standards for Teacher Education, which described competences for teacher qualifications and minimum competences for qualification types. In turn, this was followed in 2000 by the Norms and Standards for Educators in Schooling, through which teacher education became a nationally defined competence, incorporating the 120 colleges of education into higher education institutions. The new standards for teacher competences delineate seven roles for teachers and notions of applied and integrated competences. The document also describes the teacher education qualifications framework in line with the National Qualifications Framework. Importantly, these documents focused on competences and qualifications, without reference to the wider context of issues such as supply, demand and ongoing development in the teacher field.

The rationalisation and amalgamation of colleges occurred within the context of merging higher education institutions in the country. Although the aim of closing the colleges and moving teacher education to higher education institutions was to improve quality and standards, a number of unintended effects and difficulties occurred. One was the low subsidy allocation to education faculties, which resulted in reduced enrolments. This has led to growing concern, in recent years, regarding the decreased supply of new teachers for a system requiring more and better teachers, especially in scarce skills areas like maths, science, technology, the foundation phase and the new subjects introduced by the new curriculum.

There were also important structural developments: the Education Labour Relations Council was established to negotiate agreements between the teacher unions, which have high membership rates (88%), and the state. The Council has played a significant role in a variety of issues of teacher policy, such as salaries, working conditions and performance appraisal. In the arena of teacher professional development, however, progress has been slow.

The second important structure established is the national South African Council for Educators (SACE), which is responsible for the professional registration of educators and their professional code of ethics. SACE has also worked on instituting portfolios for professional development. It has recently been given the mandate to manage the Continuing Teacher Professional Development System, which will make teachers’ participation in professional development compulsory and recognised.

All of these developments were important and necessary, but there was a sense among key decision-makers in the field that a more comprehensive approach was needed to address the scale and pace of issues being faced. As a result, a Ministerial Committee on Teacher Education (MCTE) was set up in 2001. A comprehensive six-volume report was produced, which presented a view of the situation at the time, and laid out 42 wide- ranging recommendations for consideration. The report included extensive discussions and consultations with all key agencies and actors in the field. The MCTE report was adopted by the DoE and turned into a National Policy Framework for Teacher Education and Development (NPFTED) that was approved in April 2007. The process took twelve years from the time discussions began after 1994.

The NPFTED covers a range of areas in initial professional education of teachers (IPET) and continuing professional teacher development, and includes a section on support systems for teacher education and development. The naming of these two areas seeks to emphasise the intended professionalisation of teachers and strong continuity between initial preparation of teachers and their continuing development in practice. The process of developing the NPFTED also used a wide consultation approach, consisting of presentations to different levels of decision-makers in the MoE, national and provincial departments of education, unions and other key stakeholders.

The NPFTED covers a range of key areas that correspond to those generally identified in policy development, both in sub-Saharan Africa and internationally. These are:

  • Approval and recognition of teacher education programmes for employment
  • IPET routes to qualification
  • Recruitment campaigns
  • Quality management and assurance
  • Teacher education support systems.
For more information: Sayed and Mohamed, 2010.

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  1. 28 Rizvi and Lingard (2010) provide a helpful review of the diverse and contested meanings of the word policy and the policy-making process.Back to main text


  1. 29 Some countries have produced guides for costing new projects, e.g., the United Kingdom’s Green Book, Appraisal and Evaluation in Central Government (HM Treasury, 2011). to main text