Target 4c – What is at stake for monitoring progress on teachers?




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


4-cTarget 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

iso-instagramNot 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.

View our growing list of SDG 4 Workshop presentations.

This entry was posted in monitoring, pedagogy, Post-2015 development framework, sdg, sdgs, Teachers, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Target 4c – What is at stake for monitoring progress on teachers?

  1. H. Abadzi says:

    Like everyone else, teachers must become fluent performers in whatever they need to do, so that the multiple tasks to undertake must fit into working memory. What training events are needed to accomplish that, in which sequence, frequency, repetition? Cognitive scientists are needed to shed some light.


  2. apinjani says:

    Similar is the case for Pakistan. There is no standardization and/or regulation for intake of teachers as well as training for incumbent teachers. In government schools, teachers are hired with a minimum of Bachelors in Education and a test set by govt. Although this sounds standardized, the quality of this degree and test is highly sub-standard.

    In low income and high income private schools, there is no specific pre-requisite for hiring teachers; the criterion as well as salary vary according to the socio- econ context in which the school exists and the demand and supply. Many choose teaching profession as a bridge in their career hence both schools and teachers are limited in their investment in in-service trainings.

    Some private institutions do provide training like Aga Khan University Exam board, Teacher Dev Centre, Teacher Resource Centre, ERDC, however their scope of work is highly reatricted and amongst these inst there is no standardization.

    Another factor imp while setting indicators for quality training is assessment. Since exam boards imfluence teaching from grade 9 onwards as well as in the secondary years, limiting assessment to content recall and comprehension, limits teaching process to the same.


  3. Dr Darol Cavanagh says:

    Having written extensively on teacher training and co developed a model of teacher training based on student teacher professional readiness rather than administrative convenience the definitional aspects of even adequate or minimal training as an indicator regardless of even 2 caveats leaves much to be desired


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  7. It is very much appreciated that monitoring of TE is looked into in the SDG programs since teachers are the ones who guide the students for the coming decades. However, the lacunae that prevails in TE does not assist the responsibility to do justice to meets its logical ends. Hence the need to transform TE to meet the tasks set for changes in education and development. Thus the need for owning learning (OL) of the teacher becomes sine quo non. What is OL? Simply it is owning what you learn than become slavish to knowledge that that is given to you. IOW avoiding the dangers of the ‘banking concept’ of learning forced on the learners from primary to Uni levels in the developing countries highlighted by Paulo Freire. OL is a creative way of learning where you search for answers than look for what is given to you by others.SDG could be achieved through followingOL

    Basic Education Adviser for UNESCO/UNHCR
    Central asia
    Currently CEO Association for Educational Research and Development Sri Lanka


  8. Teri M. Peasley says:

    In my opinion, teacher education has to be a factor for all countries because student outcomes are heavily reliant on teacher quality. Arguably, even developed countries do not have all the answers in terms of training their teachers. However, there are some lessons to be learned from each other and from history. There has to be a standard by which teacher education is developed and it must take into consideration the cultures, languages, and histories of all people within each nation. Teacher education programs should ensure that their students gain the appropriate knowledge and that it is well situated within the traditions of the country while also looking at global knowledge.

    Ideally, as nations with very limited standards work to meet SD4, they are focused on moving their citizens forward and providing opportunities for all to have a voice. These are lofty goals but, with diligence, respect, and commitment, they can be accomplished.


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