4.c By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States
Target 4.c focuses on the supply of qualified teachers. But what it means to be a trained teacher varies per country and the relevant standards are not documented. This means that data are not really comparable, making the job of monitoring the target hard.
A distinct target relating to the teaching profession is considered a welcome addition, as it had been missing from the Education for All and Millennium Development Goals agendas. However, there is also dissatisfaction with the narrow focus on the ‘supply of qualified teachers’.
The 2016 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report goes beyond these relatively narrow confines and discusses the monitoring implications of the more general commitment, expressed in the Education 2030 Framework for Action, to ‘ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported’ – the theme of this week’s World Teachers’ Day.
Even an established indicator may not be adequate and informative
The global indicator is the proportion of teachers who “have received at least the minimum organized teacher training (e.g. pedagogical) pre-service or in-service required for teaching” at each education level. This seems well-established and suitable to monitor the target. However, there are two important caveats.
- There is a limited number of countries with data on trained teachers. In 2014, the percentage of countries with data varied from 22% in upper secondary education to 46% in primary. Coverage has increased little over time: it was 34% for primary education in 1999. No data is reported for Brazil, China, India, the Russian Federation and South Africa, for example.
Countries where there are large numbers of teachers in private schools or on short-term contracts find it more difficult to report on their qualifications.
- Entry requirements for teachers to join the profession differ, making comparisons on teacher qualifications between countries difficult. The indicator is defined ‘according to the relevant national policy or law’. However, no information is available on the different types of training required by countries – or even within countries.
For example, according to UIS, the percentage of trained primary school teachers is 17% in Madagascar and 90% in Mozambique but it is not clear how this large gap should be interpreted.
Initial teacher education programmes differ in terms of duration, length of induction period and modality – whether they are provided alongside general education or after the completion of subject-based study. In the case of subject teachers, courses also differ with respect to the degree of specialization.
Programmes also differ in their mix of pedagogical knowledge (approaches, methods and techniques of teaching), content knowledge (curriculum, subject matter and use of relevant materials) and professional knowledge.
Countries may apply more or less strict criteria for admission to teacher education programmes. Botswana requires candidates for primary and lower secondary mathematics teacher training to prove proficiency in mathematics before enrolling.
Quality assurance of teacher education programmes also differs between countries. In Thailand, the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment is an external evaluation body with the power to rescind programmes’ accreditation. Chile encourages alternative teacher education provision, which inflates the supply of trainee posts and lowers admission criteria, but the system is not regulated.
Some countries add a layer of quality assurance by not allowing all graduates of teacher education programmes into the profession. In Oman and the Philippines, those with a teaching qualification must also take a test set by external agencies.
Finally, some categories of educators require specialized training which is not covered by this general measure. For example, the qualifications of school principals are not monitored under this indicator.
Not all of these characteristics can be captured in one indicator, clearly. There is one essential recommendation we have for the TCG meeting in two weeks however: Just as the international community has standardized definitions of what it means to be in primary, secondary or tertiary education, it is necessary to develop a typology of standards for trained teachers [Tweet] if we are to understand progress towards this target.
This is the first in a series of ten blogs on monitoring SDG4, which we hope will serve as a reminder of some of the challenges remaining, and as a call to join hands to address them. Join us over the next two weeks by direct tweeting some of our key recommendations from this blog series to members of the two groups finalising education indicators on our behalf.