GMR 2013: Teaching and Learning for Development

Teaching and Learning for Development: Share your views on the 2013 EFA Global Monitoring Report [If you are not comfortable writing in English, you can post in any other UN language (русский, 中文, français, العربية, Español) and we’ll translate it for you]

The 2013 Education for All Global Monitoring Report will show why education is pivotal for development in a rapidly changing world. It will explain how investing wisely in teachers, and other reforms aimed at strengthening equitable learning, transform the long-term prospects of people and societies.

We are keen to hear your views on the topic, and so are running an on-line consultation for four weeks beginning on November 26. The GMR team is particularly keen to hear your thoughts on the focus and potential messages of the Report in the three areas noted below, and possible data analysis and case studies that could provide good examples on issues to be addressed. The views of researchers, teachers, governments, non-governmental organizations, aid donors, and anyone with an interest in education and development are extremely welcome. The team would also appreciate advice on data and research which can help inform the Report.

Please post your contributions as comments to this blog, providing web links to research reports, policy papers, evaluations, and other documents or datasets which you think would be useful for the GMR team.

If you would rather email your comments, or have attachments of documents or data that you would like to share with the GMR team, please send them directly to with #teachandlearn as a subject heading.

As this note (also available in French and Spanish) outlines, through a review of existing research and innovative data analysis, the 2013 Report will provide evidence-based policy recommendations in three inter-connected parts:

  • Part 1 will provide the annual stocktake on progress towards the six Education for All goals. With just two years until the goals expire, it will review the relevance of the goals for a post-2015 education framework. In particular, it will assess the potential for equity-based targets post-2015.
  • Part 2 will present data in new and innovative ways to show how more education and better learning for all children and young people, regardless of their background, whether their gender, wealth or where they live, contributes to a broad range of development outcomes. It will identify in particular the relationship between education and development outcomes that are anticipated to be part of the international agenda after 2015.
  • Part 3 will explain how investing wisely in teachers, and other reforms aimed at strengthening equitable learning, can transform the long-term prospects of people and societies.

Thank you for your time and interest in our Report – we look forward to hearing from you!

Also join us on twitter via @efareport and #teachandlearn


40 Responses

  1. Experts share views on Teaching and Learning for Development at the Global Education for All Meeting in Paris

    The consultation of the 2013 EFA Global Monitoring Report: Teaching and Learning for Development kicked off at a side-event during the UNESCO Global Education Meeting in Paris on 21 November. The session was attended by around 50 experts from national governments, aid donors, UNESCO, and other organisations such as the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) and the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA).

    Participants raised a number of pertinent issues for the GMR team to consider as we continue to prepare the Report.

    On the linkages between education and broader development outcomes, issues raised included:
    • Agreement that the Report needs to have a coherent vision of how the education agenda relates to the emerging post-2015 framework.
    • Welcoming that the scope of the report would attract a broad audience beyond education practitioners alone.
    • Agreement of the focus on inequalities, noting that it will be important to address inequalities in all its guises. The importance of a sustained emphasis on reducing gender inequality was emphasised, particularly given its linkage to other development outcomes.
    • Importance of taking account of inequality both within and between countries, noting that education can act as a force for reinforcing inequality as well as a means to reduce it.

    On policy options for investing in teachers, and other reforms aimed at strengthening equitable learning, to transform the long-term prospects of people and societies, participants noted that the Report team should consider the following points:
    • The role of education in improving the life chances of children for the future where pressures of climate change, environmental degradation, and dwindling resources related to increased population size will be heightened. This will also bring new challenges for teacher training and curriculum design.
    • The need to adopt a life-long learning approach to achieving development goals, and to avoid the risk of focusing on narrow definitions of learning outcomes and teachers role in this, ensuring that attention is also placed on students’ enjoyment of learning.
    • Teachers and teacher associations should be consulted as a source of knowledge for policy making and curriculum reform, rather than seeing them only as implementers of policy.
    • Teacher quality is important, but so are the conditions that enable them to demonstrate effectiveness. The report should, therefore, shed light on those working conditions that support good teaching.
    • The perception that teacher training has no impact on teacher performance needs to be confronted, and the view of some that untrained contract teachers is an appropriate policy response to the teacher crisis should be addressed.

    What are your thoughts on these or other issues outlined in our concept note?

    • I’d like to respond to Barbara Brun’s article ‘A Bad Apple in the Classroom’ (…

      It is absolutely true that the teacher makes all the difference to a student’s learning; no matter how much they say that the learning a student does is independent of the teacher (good or bad), they are absolutely totally connected. She is right in saying that what we need are brilliant teachers and we need them in abundant supply.

      I agree too that there are a lot of bad teachers around and that in many instances school senior management are rather oblivious to it…I know for a fact that many schools prefer to have ‘someone’ than ‘someone good’! Beggars can’t be chosers it seems!

      Trouble is that promoting teaching through rewards (in my opinion) is not the way to go. I became a teacher not for the pay, not for the additional rewards it would give me, but purely for the reason of wanting to inspire and enthuse future generations and hope to instil a passion for living and learning in them. So the reward of teaching is students learning and enriching themselves…and to achieve this, you have to be a great teacher and you have to do a great job!

      Trying to measure teacher performance is fraught with problems and trying to devise some generic measures of teacher performance is absolutely impossible…so at best you are going to have to devise your measures or rubrics for each individual case; possibly even each class in each school. Teacher performance is going to vary as much as student individuality varies, or a student’s ability to learn varies. Let’s take an example: say we have a highly creative and innovative teacher that is putting tremendous effort into designing highly engaging and enriching kinaesthetic resources for her Year 8 class; do we instantly reward the teacher and give her full marks for teacher performance? What if the class of Year 8s are not kinaesthetic learners and in fact auditory learners and in fact respond far better to more didactic methods of teaching?

      Another aspect of learning is that it does not necessarily happen instantly; it is a journey. How then and when can you assess teacher performance? Do you wait months to properly assess the results? and how do you ‘reward’ the teacher in the meantime? What on the surface might seem like excellent teaching/teacher performance might turn out to be whistles and bells but with no substance.

      The idea of videoing teachers and then assessing this against a “clear rubric” seems highly naive. Besides surely if it was so easy to design these “clear rubrics” it would have been done in the past.

      So I’m highlighting problems….but what is the solution?

      I think that far, far more ongoing training of teachers around the world needs to be happening and teachers need to be given adequate time off their teaching to achieve this; I think teachers need to work reduced timetables so that they have time to be creative and innovative, to be a great teacher; I think that students AND parents too need to attend workshops and sessions so that they too are on common ground with their teachers, that they too are ready for their ’21st century learning’. There are a lot of outdated ideas and models about teaching banging around; it is only part of the solution to bring teachers up to date – you have to bring the students and the parents up to date, you have to strengthen relationships between the three groups and ensure that they are working as a synergy…its not just down to the teacher. We need worldwide campaigns about what learning really is and more than anything we need to embrace today and the future in our education systems; stop comparing ourselves to other countries and work with what we have; stop continually assessing students and let them learn for what today is and for what tomorrow will bring. Education should be an extension of life; not remote from it. We need to listen far more to the likes of Sir Ken Robinson and to integrate concepts like empathy into our teaching….all of this will in turn produce brilliant teachers and will help to retain the teachers of the world!

  2. Lack of proficiency in the medium of instruction (MoI) on the part of both learners and teachers is a crucial factor which depresses school achievement. Learning in a language in which learners have limited proficiency slows down learning radically and makes it very inefficient. There is widespread evidence that this happens, especially in Africa and in particular with European MoIs, often after a switch of medium at say grade 3/4. Very few countries and NGOs in Africa – with some notable exceptions, e.g. SIL International, Save the Children – are willing to tackle this issue beyond the early years.

    It is exacerbated by two futher crucial related matters. Firstly teaching a subject to learners with limited proficiency in the MoI requires teachers to use a distinct pedagogy which amplifies comprehension and compensates for the ineffectiveness of this form of learning. In officially recognised forms of bilingual education which exist in different parts of the world, teachers need to be trained to use this pedagogy. In Africa, hardly any initial teacher education (ITE) institutions train their teachers to teach the subject in this way. Subject teacher trainers do not have this expertise. Instead teachers are trained AS IF their learners were fluent in the MoI. The effect of this is that teachers struggle very hard to teach in European MoIs and learners under-achieve.

    Secondly, subject textbooks to be used by learners with limited proficiency in the MoI are specially designed using a set of specific design criteria aimed at maximising comprehension. Most subject textbooks (as opposed to language books) in Africa are not designed in this way. They are designed by publishers to be read by learners fluent in the language of the textbook. They rarely contain any of these features of high-accessibility textbooks. Studies of readability of textbooks used in Africa show that they are normally readable only by NATIVE SPEAKER READERS in grades higher than the African school grade for which they are intended. I have measured readability in a social studies textbook for grade 4 (year 1 of English-medium education) in one African country, which was only readable by native speaker readers in grade 11. Most of these textbooks are thus unreadable by the learners for whom they are intended. This should be seen in conjunction with studies which show that opportunities for classroom reading in some/many African schools may be extremely infrequent. Effective reading of subject textbooks is probably rare.

    It is difficult to understand why both ITE and textbook publishing function in Africa as if learners were fluent in the MoI, rather than recognising that currently European MoIs place a low ceiling on what they can achieve.

    Thus two crucial developments are necessary. Firstly, train subject teacher educators to use and teach to their trainees the specalist pedagogy that they need in order to teach learner with limited second language proficiency. Second, require textbook publishers to publish high-accessibility textbooks designed with the actual MoI ability of their learners in mind. Both these measures would have a huge impact on school achievement in Africa.

    Finally, establish an initially small number of schools which take educational bilingualism in Africa seriously and are run on modern formal bilingual lines. Experiment with what happens there and gradually increase the number of these schools. Educational research in Africa points in this direction. Governments and NGOs should act on it.

    • very interesting insight and mostly true about the African situation and the worst case scenario is with the marginalised ethnic minorities whose languages and cultures gravitate far from the mainstream. i am interested in your suggested solutions and maybe you can get in touch with me at for more dialogging

  3. ASER can contribute to the GMR 2013 in the following ways.

    Option 1
    Graphic representation can be included for each statement below.
    A box on the current status of learning inequalities prevalent in Pakistan may be displayed. The following types of inequalities may be displayed through the ASER data (the statements below are according to the ASER Pakistan 2011 data)
    • Inequality of opportunity manifested through difference in gender
    o More girls than boys are out of school in rural areas
    o More boys than girls go to fee paying private schools.
    o Learning results are slightly better for boys as compared to girls
    • Through difference in type of school the children attend (public, private, public-private-partnership schools and religious/Madrassah schools)
    o Better learning outcomes in private schools as compared to public schools
    o Madrassah schools’ children have poorer results as compared to public schools.
    o Foundation assisted schools or PPP schools’ children perform better as compared to public schools but not better than private schools’ children.
    • Inequality of wealth
    o Showing the gap in learning achievement according to the socio economic background of the children and households. Showing the learning outcomes for the poorest 25% and richest 25% of the population.
    • Inequality in terms of location (urban versus rural)
    o Ratio of boys as compared to girls that are out of school is higher in urban areas as compared to rural.
    o Learning achievements are better in urban areas as compared to rural areas.
    • Effect of teacher qualification on learning

    Option 2
    Another option is that we use the collaboration from UWEZO and ASER India along with ASER Pakistan to represent ASER as an innovative approach to engage citizens to strengthen accountability. ’
    Further we can analysis the difference between each ASER country’s results. For example; ASER India shows minute out of school ratio, as compared to ASER Pakistan which still shows 20% out of school ratio.

    Option 3
    Case Studies of
    o The ASER citizen led movement – initiative for change
    o Stories like narrated in the ASER 2011 documentary which call for attention.

    ASER Pakistan team

    • There are a number of really interesting possibilities here. One question: is it possible to look at overlapping disadvantage in learning outcomes with the data – for example, for poverty, rural/urban and gender combined.

      The possibility of looking at teacher qualification on learning – especially for learners from disadvantaged backgrounds, or of low achievers – would also be of relevance if this is possible with the data.

      Human interest stories would also be great to explore too.

      We look forward to following up with the ASER team

      • Over lapping analysis can be definitely done, but using rural versus urban analysis will only be possible for a few districts in Pakistan and not the whole country. ASER Pakistan urban chapter comprises of a few districts which may not be compared to the total rural sample.
        District-wise analysis is still possible.

        Other than this, over lapping analysis of learning outcomes for poverty, gender is very much possible.

        Teacher qualifications and disadvantaged children’s corelations can also be made from the data.

        It will be our team’s pleasure to share this rich data with you people.

        ASER Pakistan team

    • Dear ASER Pakistan Team,

      While the data you will provide the GMR team will certainly be helpful in assessing inequalities in educational access in Pakistan (based on a sample of districts), I find it problematic that you will also be providing ‘evidence’ on how private schools (whether low-fee or PPP) perform better as compared to public schools. Such claims overlook the wide variations in private schooling (in terms of differences in curricula, infrastructure, and adequately qualified, trained and remunerated teachers, among other factors).

      Moreover, while some private schools may be able to offer children a quality education, the challenge is that private schooling is fundamentally inequitable; even at a low-cost, the most disadvantaged families are unable to access low-fee private schooling (as shown by research conducted by Joana Härmä, Prachi Srivastava,etc.).

      The creation of a private education sector parallel to the public one may also further exacerbate inequalities in the quality of education provided in different parts of a country, not only a rural/urban division, but also between regions and villages.

      I would recommend that the GMR does not focus its assessment on comparing the relative performance of private schools versus public schools (generally measured very narrowly in the first place), but rather emphasises the responsibility of governments in ensuring that the public education system delivers quality education that is equitable and ‘free’. This can be achieved if governments invest in adequate school infrastructure, teaching and learning materials, and well-qualified, trained and professionally supported teachers.

      • Dear Koning,
        We agree with you on private schools exacerbation the inequality further, however the main point of comparing the private and public quality is for giving a positive push to the public sector to try and perform a little better than their private schools counter parts.
        According to research done on Pakistan, the quality or qualification of teachers is better in the public domain as compared to private schools, that is even though they have better resources they are unable to perform accordingly. And it needs to be understood that may be the case. What is private sector doing better as compared to government schools that is giving students a better chance at getting quality education.
        As for infrastructure difference, we have also conducted research (currently under review for publishing) that the difference in very basic literacy and numeracy outcomes persist between the two types of schools even after controlling for differences in infrastructure, family background and wealth status.
        Furthermore, quality of private schools in themselves is not very amazing, and you are right it does not need to be highlighting for that. ASER tries to gauge the difference in quality across different types of schools to give a competitive push to the public sector alone.

  4. Both pre-service and in-service teacher training is necessary. Training for mainstream teachers should incorporate inclusive education and funding should be provided for developing sufficient specialist teacher support for disabled people. Opportunities for the training and employment of disabled teachers should also be provided.

    Inclusive curricula and assessment procedures need to be promoted. Sufficient numbers of high-quality accessible materials (e.g. large-print books, Braille books) and appropriate assistive devices (e.g. spectacles, low vision magnifiers, telescopes) are also necessary to ensure inclusion for disabled people. ‘Appropriate’ means that education and health systems will need to develop capacity and work together to carry out medical and functional assessments of students. Education-related infrastructure projects must promote accessibility.

  5. Thank you for this opportunity to share thoughts with the GMR team on next’ years report.

    I would like to touch upon the issue of investing wisely in teachers and other reforms of the education system.

    One key message that the GMR could get across is that the “cheaper teacher” approach has not yielded the results expected and continuing with this kind of policy is not a wise investment. The countries that have resorted to massive hiring of untrained and unqualified teachers are the very same who get mentioned in literature and statistics as countries where learning is not taking place. More worryingly, the poor results of public education in such contexts are used as an excuse for more of the same recipe, that is, less funding for public schools and more “cheaper teacher”.

    By “cheaper teacher” I do not mean only those who do not have the training or qualifications required, but also those professionals who work with precarious contracts, who get paid a portion of what a teacher with a standard contract does, for doing the exact same job. This, in turn, leads to their abandoning the profession.

    We all know that some governments and drivers of the education policy debate, including those funding reforms, justify the “cheaper teacher” solution as the only way to tackle teacher shortage. It is high time the international community started to understand the real causes of teacher shortage. Teaching is not an attractive profession, in the overwhelming majority of countries which will fail to achieve the EFA goals. It is not only the salaries. The poor working conditions, the derelict school facilities, the crowded classrooms, the lack of pedagogical support and other elements make many abandon the profession and keep the younger students from joining the ranks.

    What is worrying is that there is a tremendous gap between the reality of the classroom and the international debate and the concrete actions taken by donors. For example, the focus of attention now is creating more “effective” ways to measure learning and compare country statistics. It is as if having a high-tech thermometer would cure your fever.

    I would advise the GMR team to look at the disconnect between the official speech and the declarations made at high-level meetings, panels, by the Global Partnership for Education and other key actors who claim to have quality as an objective, but, in practice, a quick review of the projects they fund rely on hiring untrained personnel and, in many cases, provide them with distance training. It will not take much time for the team to see the nearly all the projects from key donors are funding the “cheaper teacher” solution.

    If the international community is serious about quality education for those who need it the most, that is, the poorest children, then a serious an urgent change of attitude is required. As long as they keep funding the same recipes that have failed and invest the increasingly scarce resources available for the education sector in initiatives that focus on measuring results, it is very unlikely there will be any serious progress.

  6. I Agree with the view of Sunit Bagree in respect of inclusive education the need of Special Educators apart from accessible materials and training of In Service teachers are also very necessary because without the involvment of special educators we are not able to fulfil the need of Remedial teaching to special children.

  7. Since 2009, through the WISE Awards program, the WISE Initiative has been able to identify, showcase and promote innovative educational projects that are having a transformative impact on societies and education. Below is a list of some WISE Awards winning and finalist projects that show in concrete ways how empowering teachers and providing better learning can contribute to development.

    Mother Child Education Program: this project is a sustainable early childhood education (ECE) programme that aims to educate and support preschool children from under-resourced communities by training the mother in her role as a “first educator”. The programme, which has been replicated in 13 countries and reaches over 700,000 people, has been shown to have a positive, long-lasting impact on mothers and children:

    Creative Partnerships: The program is based on long-term partnerships between schools and creative professionals who teach pupils to study their standard curriculum in a very different way, which stimulate their creativity and problem-solving skills:

    Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: TESSA is working to improve access to, and the quality of, school-based training for existing teachers, student teachers and aspiring teachers across sub-Saharan Africa:

    CSTEM Challenge: The annual CSTEM (Communication, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Challenge provides a platform for Pre-K-12 students and teachers to achieve comprehensive experiential learning, while creating artifact solutions to real-world problems developed each year by various industry professionals:

    TakingIt Global for Educators: TakingITGlobal (TIG) works to empower youth to understand and act on the world’s greatest challenges. It serves youth worldwide through a multilingual online learning community and innovative education programs geared toward active global citizenship:

    OER (Open Educational Resources) Commons Teacher Training: this initiative offers teachers a new collaborative professional development model based on engagement with a freely available curriculum:

    The WISE Team

  8. Thank you for this opportunity to share thoughts with the GMR team on next’ years report.
    Union of Education Norway (Utdanningsforbundet) is Norway’s dominating union for the education. We represent more than 150 000 professionals with teacher and academic qualifications within the entire Norwegian educational system.
    First of all we want to emphasise that education is a human right. Education is in itself a valuable and should be included in any development goal.
    We welcome the wider scope including social and political challenges. Furthermore focusing on equal opportunity and equality to narrow the education gap between and within countries is of paramount importance.
    Quality education depends on quality teachers. The 2013 GMR should have a strong case for investing in teachers, their training, professional development, support and the improvement of their conditions of service. The employment of unqualified teachers has a negative impact on the quality of teaching and learning. Governments should therefore invest in teacher education and improve the teachers’ conditions of service in order to attract young people into the teaching profession and retain those who are already in the service.
    More female and male qualified teachers should be employed and equitably deployed in order to reduce the teacher gap and large class sizes common in many developing countries. Training and employing more qualified teachers will also help meet the demand for teachers in developed countries due to aging teacher populations.
    The GMR should argue for the use of a qualified teacher to student ratio as an important indicator of educational quality.
    Quality education must be defined in terms of context and culture. Quality is neither one-dimensional nor straightforward. A contextual approach to quality is never deterministic, as it is contingent upon creativity and constant development.
    Recognizing that literacy and mathematic skills are vital, we would underline this angle of incidence to education is too narrow. Moreover one dimensional tools focusing on outcome alone, such as standardized testing, must be used with care and a special attention against potential misuse.
    Efforts should be made to improve the status of teachers and the teaching profession. The development of professional standards for teachers and teacher professional councils, through an inclusive process led by teachers and public authorities and other key stakeholders can go a long way in improving the status of the teaching profession. Governments should help create an enabling environment for the teaching profession to regulate itself like other professions e.g. the legal and medical professions.
    The GMR should make a strong case for investing in school leadership and the professional development of school leaders.
    Access to education for all learners, including the youngest children remains paramount. The GMR should therefore argue for investing in early childhood education, universal primary education and all EFA goals and urge national governments and the international donor community to meet/increase their funding commitments.

  9. GMR 2013 Concept note states the following:
    “Improving education through learning assessments: The importance of using national and international assessments to allow teachers to track student learning progress and to improve policy will be highlighted, focusing on countries that are demonstrating effective use of learning assessments to improve education and tackle inequalities in learning”.
    I would like to warn against over reliance on the assessments of student learning, especially through standardized tests, which both nationally and internationally are increasingly used as a proxy for student learning outcomes and as criteria to judge teachers’ performance. The developments of international tests have been closely monitored over the last decade and there is growing evidence on how detrimental it is to use them for policy reforms, especially from a teacher and student perspective.
    First, all standardized assessments are inevitably narrow in terms of curriculum they cover and student knowledge, skills and attitudes they intend to measure. Nevertheless, their focus on measurable aspects (mostly in mathematics and reading) creates a disproportionate attention among policy makers and society at large, leading to the phenomenon “we value what we measure” rather than measuring what we value, and consequently creating pressures on education systems to focus their resources on these measurable indicators, reducing scope and value of the whole curriculum and teachers autonomy.
    Second, student assessments can only provide a snapshot of student performance at a certain time and place, or, arguably, if these have been applied repeatedly to the same students over the time, some evidence of their progress as much as can be measured. However, such assessments cannot explain all the factors behind student achievement, nor establish any causality. At best, if the contextual data are available, it is possible to argue about some correlation between certain background characteristics and student performance, but that should not lead to policy conclusions as situation in some countries cannot be easily replicated in another.
    Third, most importantly, use of student performance data to make conclusions about teachers “effectiveness” is the biggest policy mistake of all, beyond the question of its fairness. When teachers are faced with “high stakes” student assessment – situation when student test scores determine teachers’ rewards, they inevitably will be motivated into “teaching for test”, therefore becoming active agents in reducing their teaching and curriculum to achieve those indicators, not the holistic development of all children. Also, knowing how important socioeconomic background for student achievements is, we can observe increased competition among teachers and parents for best schools and classes, and further segregation of student population accordingly.
    I truly believe this is not what we want. Student learning assessment is an important diagnostic and formative tool, indeed part of any pedagogy. Teachers should be able to master the use of it to their best judgement, but it should not become an accountability tool for policy makers. I would like to strongly encourage GMR 2013, when addressing student assessment to take a broad and balanced view, examining not only “successful examples” but also failures and misuses of it, distinguishing between various uses of assessments, their goals and applicability.

  10. These are very important points. As you say there is a lot of research which suggests using achievement tests as an indicator of teacher quality or effectiveness is problematic. It is important to highlight why this is so, but also point to the growing use of international assessments to learn about how some systems are using the information for diagnostic purposes, and to improve education quality especially for disadvantaged groups. There is much we can learn from these as well. Ultimately, how teachers are supported to use assessment diagnostically in their classroom is key, and some countries do better than others in this respect. It is important to understand why this is so.

  11. In addition to the good contributions, I would like to suggest other ways of looking at the issue.
    1.If education is good for society then how does a society value its teachers? Is it possible to correlate aspects of teacher issues such as qualified or not with an HDI or gini coefficient for wealth, for example?
    2.Is it possible to correlate the ratio of female teachers with the HDI or a gender empowerment measure for society?
    3. My message is to look beyond the education sector at this important issue to do more strategic analysis and to bring messages to decision makers outside the education sector -planners, economists and politicians.
    4. Can there be explicit attention to utilisation of the next report rather than only dissemination?
    Just a few ideas.

  12. It is true that many important learning outcomes are difficult or undesirable to measure, but it is also important to respond to the problems of standardised testing with efforts to improve how we do measure what students learn. A ‘global learning goal’ may be a blunt instrument with certain risks attached, but also offers to galvanise efforts to improve education quality, if properly adapted to context. Dan Wagner discusses some of the key issues (see of testing in developing countries, while the Young Lives Study* ( contains data from educational assessments focused on local relevance, but also, where appropriate, on comparability. High quality learning metrics are essential for analysis and diagnosis of school quality and educational equity issues – for example to address the important question of the extent to which pupils meet curricular expectations and develop the skills their futures require.
    At the same time, curricular expectations may themselves hinder learning. A recent paper by Lant Pritchett shows how over-ambitious curricula can stifle learning and waste resources (see Young Lives data also show that what is ‘taught’ is often not what is ‘learned’ and that in some contexts learning progress is slow for many pupils despite accessible schooling and high enrolment (for example comparing India with Vietnam).
    High quality learning opportunities for all are at the centre of an equitable system. A key research question for Young Lives concerns how children’s home backgrounds link to the quality of educational opportunity they receive – an issue very close to the GMR theme. Inequitable systems are characterised by large differences in the quality of education accessed by more and less advantaged groups – for example between urban and rural areas (e.g. in Peru), between speakers of majority and minority languages; and between private and public schools (e.g. in India). YL data show a rapid rise in private school enrolment in India during the life of the study so far, favouring boys and urban dwellers and motivated largely by concerns about quality in public schools (see
    By contrast, in Vietnam targeted government programs have aimed at improving learning opportunity for all by focusing on reaching minimum quality indicators (see, especially in disadvantaged areas. Young lives data does not show that school quality differences strongly favour urban or wealthier sites when employing ‘value-added’ analysis and moreover, a majority of pupils reach learning levels in maths and reading which are comparable with high income countries. This is despite short formal instructional hours and relatively low teachers’ salaries in Vietnam, drawing attention to differences in governance and management structures in public education systems, which are arguably at least as important as differences in resources. High levels of teacher absenteeism in public schools in India (by contrast with low levels in Vietnam) illustrate the point that efficient use of resources is in turn linked to governance and management structures.

    *Young Lives an international longitudinal study of childhood poverty in Peru, India (Andhra Pradesh), Ethiopia and Vietnam, which includes school surveys focused on school quality, learning outcomes and educational equity.

  13. Teachers are a critical resource, especially during emergencies and crisis. However, during emergencies, teachers are often tapped to work with NGOs because they are literate and numerate, or because they can earn more as a driver, etc., leaving classrooms and students without instruction. The INEE Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensation state:

    Teachers are critical to ensure that children receive a quality education. In emergency situations or during transition, teachers not only enable children to continue learning but they also provide lifesaving information and serve as a source of reassurance and normalcy for children and the wider community. The areas most desperately in need of teachers are fragile states. Thus strategies for ensuring that teachers are appropriately compensated are vital in attracting teachers to the profession, retaining them once in position and keeping them motivated to provide quality education.

    An established system for teacher compensation increases teacher motivation; helps to stabilise the education system thus effecting control, professionalism and accountability; decreases teacher absenteeism and high levels of turnover; protects the investment made in teacher training; and ultimately increases the quality and availability of education for children. Teacher salaries often make up more than 75 percent of any given country’s total spending on education. Thus, providing possible solutions to the challenges of teacher compensation in fragile states is both directly and indirectly a contribution to the global Education for All (EFA) initiative.

    Ensuring that teachers are adequately compensated during emergencies is a much-needed step in ensuring that education continues and children and youth obtain the continuity and stability they need and are entitled to.

  14. Having read the concept note for the GMR 2013, I was struck by its emphasis on education for productivity and economic growth. With one of its aims being to “present the latest evidence on links between education and direct measures of productivity”, the concept note for the 2013 edition of the GMR conveys a rather narrow and instrumentalist view on education, where the relationship between education and economic growth seems overstated.

    Education is first and foremost a human right. While education might increase the chances of finding a means of living and/or employment, it also forms the basis for social inclusion, active citizenship and participation, allowing citizens to develop their critical and analytical thinking, and contribute to their society (not only in terms of growth).

    The concept note lacks a rights-based approach to education, which should be the basis for monitoring the implementation of the EFA agenda. It is worrying that the concept note narrowly justifies the implementation of the EFA goals with their potential economic returns, rather than the long-term benefits of education for the development of equitable and democratic societies. This also raises questions about the GMR’s priorities; instead of looking for “new evidence” of the economic return of education, the GMR should look at the holistic benefits of education, and remind us of why we collectively committed to the EFA agenda and “the human right to benefit from an education” in the first place.

    • Many thanks, Antonia, for raising this important point. The 2013 GMR will be framed within the overall context of education being a human right which is indeed vital. At the same time it is important to be realistic that we will need to continue to convince those who are not education specialists of its importance – not only for growth and economic returns, but also as central to citizenship and democracy, gender empowerment, and environmental sustainability, as you indicate. These are all areas that the 2013 GMR intends to address in ways that we hope will inform the development of a post-2015 framework, and so ensure that education is given the central place it deserves. If we do not address this, there is a real danger that we will face even tougher battles to ensure education budgets are protected for paying teacher salaries, amongst other things.

      • Well said. Education for all is a human right and a public good – the ‘must also be good for development” criteria is something of a red-herring.. Here in New Zealand – while all children can access public education in schools and, at varying costs, early childhood education – participation is still not equitable for 300,000 children living in poverty with ill health, lack of proper food and poor and over-crowded housing.

        Also, while the concept of education as a human right is generally accepted as a given in New Zealand – the quality of that education is being threatened by a neo-liberal policies attacking teachers and teacher unions and encouraging the development of the charter school or public/private partnership model despite the evidence highlighting the lack of any significant improvement – and in some cases a decline – in educational achievement and equitable provision – particularly for special education learners in charter schools compared to public schools. In NZ we already have a system of self-governing schools and families/whanau are well-represented on school boards. Unlike state schools, charter schools will not have to report on how they are meeting education goals, will not be required to employ qualified and registered teachers and will be exempt from a number of safeguards for teachers – such as the ability to be represented by the national teachers collective , protection of teachers salaries and conditions, reporting on achievement against the national curriculum. If education is to hold the central place it deserves in the GMR 2013 these policies must be exposed for what they are. The EMR report emphasis must be on developing, supporting and sustaining quality teaching in quality schools and ECE centres.

  15. Respected EFA Team,

    Greetings from Islamabad Pakistan. Hope you have a nice day. I am Shazia Majeed an education activist (Masters in Education Planning and Management) as well as a media person. Presently working for Project PaGE, Creating awareness about equal rights of girls’ education.
    Pakistan is facing the worst challenges regarding education and different indicators show it. (GMR Fact Sheet October, 2012). Malala’s case has brought the world’s attention to Pakistan and it has to work for its lowest literacy rates now. Being an educated and sensitive person, it is very difficult to stay unconcerned about the situation of your country and then again, if that situation relates to your own field of work, its almost impossible to be away.
    I feel there is urgent need to address this issue and appropriate action needs to be taken on individual/ collective level. The efforts of UN agencies in this case are highly appreciable and they are working real hard to improve the situation of education across the globe. As an educationist I have my opinion on this issue and I want to submit my suggestions for the preparation of GMR 2013. These are given below and I hope my humble contribution becomes worthy of your attention.

    Education in Pakistan

    Education in Pakistan is facing multifarious problems and challenges today. We are at such a juncture of time that if we failed to do something positive for Education, we will be lagging far behind in the race of nations. The world is already facing the failure of EFA Goals and MDG’s. In this kind of circumstances we need to be really careful in our analysis here.
    First of all let’s have a look at the particular problems of Pakistan regarding education. After that we will see these problems in the perspective of MDG’s & EFA Goals.
    In the end we will discuss the solutions/ post 2015 strategies.

    1. Lack of physical facilities: Infrastructure, buildings, furniture etc.
    2. Lack of Planning: School Mapping is not done according to the available demographic data. Even the demographic data is not the updated one.
    3. Medium of instruction at primary level is not mother tongue at many places.
    4. Curriculum for government schools, private schools and madrasa’s is very different from each other.
    5. Affordable quality education is not available. Quality Education can be purchased by elite class only.
    6. Poverty/ child labor deprives the children of their education living in rural/ vulnerable locations.
    7. Lack of awareness among the masses about importance of education, particularly in rural areas, where people want their children to help in fields or in households. Since Pakistan has an agrarian economy children working in the fields with elders is the most common phenomenon.
    8. Lack of trained teachers and training facilities.
    9. Lack of political commitment.
    10. Feudal/ Tribal disturbances. Feudal Lords do not want the people to have education, for who will work for them then…
    11. Gender disparity. Girls education is thought to be waste of money and resources. They are supposed to be working at home, helping in household activities mostly.
    12. Those who are enrolled for primary education drop out due to various reasons, like because of teacher behaviour or pressures from family.

    EFA & MDG’s Perspective:
    Failure to achieve EFA Goals and Millenium Development goals does not show that the very basis of these goals was incorrect or was not solid, but if we see closely most of these goals apply today also. We still strive to achieve UPE, gender equality and women empowerment more than ever. The leftover targets should be approached with the lessons drawn already. New strategies can be built upon the end product and nothing else. Major reasons for the failure at the outset are:
    A) Lack of involvement/ interest/ participation of all the stakeholders.
    B) Lack of periodic monitoring and evaluation.
    C) Unrealistic targets/ subdivision of targets.
    D) Lack of quality work.

    Post 2015 Strategies:
    As far as post 2015 strategies are concerned, we will have to prioritize the factors that affected the achievement the most before 2015. As per the Education theories, the demand of education is higher in high education rate areas rather than in the low education regions. We need to capitalize on all the opportunities available and only then we can achieve our targets. In Pakistan due to its diverse situation no single strategy can be followed. We have to take situation analysis of every region and plan according to its special circumstances. A plan made for Punjab can’t be implemented in KPK or Balochistan. Now in particularly Pakistani perspective, we need to pay more attention to the following:

    a. Planning for post 2015 is to be done in such a way that monitoring and evaluation is given more emphasis.
    b. Plan to be divided into simple measurable targets.
    c. New schools construction to be according to the demographic distribution.
    d. Teachers in rural communities to be paid high, given respect and trained.
    e. Formal, non-formal and informal education to be employed at all levels. If we want education for all then we have to use all these forms of education and can’t neglect any of them.
    f. Role of media in educating the society to be emphasized. It can be done in 2 ways; on one hand media can be used to create and increase awareness, because people are more likely to solve their problems when they have full awareness about them. On the other hand media can be used for education purpose for those who can not leave their homes, like teaching English programs on television for example.
    g. Universities may be linked to local businesses, so that they can have the work force of their choice. Also youth has the skills required by the businesses.
    h. For UPE achievement, free primary education along with the stipend for girls so that the parents feel it worthwhile to send them to school.
    i. Government, non-government and private sector to be involved at all levels. If it is left to government efforts only then we can’t achieve our education goals in Pakistan. Rather in my opinion there is need to strengthen the private sector and NGO’s if any development in education is desired at all.
    j. Concepts of Adult Education, Vocational Training, Entrepreneurship and Inclusive Education to be promoted.
    k. Primary focus of literacy improvement to be for the lowest literacy rate regions.
    l. Use of technology, for example mobile phones and internet can be introduced where possible.
    m. Same curriculum for all the children across the country. Curriculum to be designed keeping on mind the global perspective. Practical component of the curriculum may be increased.
    n. Exam system may be on monthly basis, followed by end term exam.
    o. For girls education special measures may be taken. Incentives for parents and girls may be given in the form of stipends.

    Conclusion: We need to leave no stone unturned if we want education for all in Pakistan. We need to use all possible means to increase the literacy rate to come out of this state of acute illiteracy. These are a few suggestions for the moment, will keep updating.

  16. India has done a commendable job in enrolling its children to schools; a decade ago, 30 million Indian children were not in school, and today the figure is near 3 million. As per School Education Statistics (SES) in 2005-06 the enrolment of girls was over 60.2 million in primary schools. The figure has increased to 60.5 million in 2010-11. With an increased Gross enrollment ratio of over 20% in higher education, over 621 Universities and 33,500 colleges, India will be producing over 24 million graduates by the end of 2020. But here-in lies the problem, according to an earlier survey by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) only 39.5% of all graduates in the country were viewed as employable.

    India is going berserk to enrol its children in schools and higher education institutes but quality has gone for a toss. Enrolment ratio has gone higher but so has the drop-out ratio. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan which means ‘Education for All’ programme in Hindi is a Government of India’s flagship programme for achievement of universalization of Elementary Education and caters to the needs of over 192 million children but according to an article in The Economic Times dated November 23, 2012; there are over 700,000 teaching posts vacant under this particular programme. Delhi, the capital city of India is facing a crunch of over 1500 teachers in government schools catering to the weaker sections of the society.

    The above two paragraphs raises a number of questions, most important of them being: What is the reason for such a massive gap between the demand and supply of Teachers in government schools? Even with such a gigantic working population why the government schools in India are not able to attract the talent or provide quality education to the millions of kids in government schools across the country. To understand the issue and reasons, I contacted some government school teachers and principals in Ahmedabad; my home city and Pune; the city where I work currently. Not surprisingly, the feedback I received from both the cities was not too different.

     Excessive Non-Teaching Duties
    Apart from teaching, all the government school teachers are assigned non-teaching work such as conducting census survey, facilitate polling during elections and various other activities which they have to compulsorily abide. It creates a lot of pressure on the teachers, a substantial amount of time is wasted in non-teaching work that affects the quality of education of the students as schools remains closed and even-if the schools are working, no classes are conducted.

     Teacher Absenteeism
    P Sainath, a renowned journalist in his famous book ‘Everybody loves a good drought’ had referred to government schools as Schools without Teachers. The UNESCO’s International Institute of Educational Planning study on corruption in education says that 25% teacher absenteeism in India is among the highest in the world. Most of the time the government school teachers are either in involved in non-teaching work of the Government or absent from the schools. Lack of accountability is a critical reason for the failure of public schools and also falling teaching standards.

     Inefficient Special training programmes
    A municipal school principal from Ahmedabad says that Government has launched Special training programmes for children who had dropped-out of schools or never had a chance to go to school. The programme promises free transportation to the students but most schools has no provision for providing free transportation. Most teachers have to walk their students to their home and back, especially among girls. It has resulted in teachers getting frustrated as their work is increased manifold affecting the quality of the programme.

     Lack of Infrastructure facilities
    An average government school in India can be pictured as an old dilapidated building, classrooms with broken windows, wrecked chairs and unhygienic toilets, if they are fortunate enough to have one. A school teacher in Ahmedabad revealed that their school does have separate toilets for boys and girls and hence most girls do not feel comfortable in attending the school. A school teacher in Pune on a condition to maintain anonymity revealed that their school had submitted a request for 20 computers for the school, they did receive 20 computer but 17 of which never worked.

     Incompetent teachers
    Pune Municipal Corporation initiated 30 English medium government schools but most of the teachers in these schools were transferred from the existing regional language schools. These teachers are not competent to teach in English medium school as their own education has been in regional language schools and they have always taught in regional language schools. It has highly affected the quality of education in these schools.

     Lack of Capacity building initiatives
    The world is changing fast and the education system needs to keep up the pace but the government schools are still teaching age-old curriculums and methods. Capacity building for teachers is required so that they can cope-up with the current trends and adapt teaching methods that would keep the students motivated and interested in the studies and make the best of their education.

     Lack of support from the families of students
    All the government school officials I interacted-with shared this feedback that they face a tough time seeking the support of families of the students. Most parents doesn’t allow their daughters to continue their education after pre-primary or primary level whereas the drop-out ratio amongst boys increases manifold during high school as the parents want their sons to take-up a job and earn money for the family. Due to lack of support from the family, it becomes a very difficult task for the teachers to keep the students motivated in studies. Understanding the role of child labour issues and its interaction with the education system is a critical challenge that needs to be addressed.

    The role of Teachers is most important in realizing the goal of imparting quality education. Massive Teacher training programmes should be conducted, non-teaching government tasks should not be assigned to the teachers, a strict monitoring mechanism should be devised, infrastructural development of schools and awareness campaign for the parents of students in government schools should be conducted.

    India has undoubtedly done a great job in enrolling a majority of the children in schools but now the challenge is to keep the drop-out ratio to the minimum and impart quality education to these kids that would lead them to a dignified employment in the future.

  17. I would like to point out the issue of “effective deployment and management of teachers for equitable learning”, a complex and critical issue to achieve quality Education for All. To help address it, it will be crucial that the GMR provide a comprehensive picture of the numerous and often complex reasons why “teachers tend to move from the poorer, more remote rural areas to more prosperous urban areas”, as stated in the concept note. Indeed, such wordings might lead to misdiagnosis, blaming the teachers for the country-level teacher gap and therefore to propose inadequate solutions, strictly focusing on “effective management” of teachers. But tackling this internal teacher shortage cannot overlook the necessary improvement of working and living conditions of teachers, in order to attract and retain them in these regions. I will use the Gambia as a case in point, to illustrate some of the numerous aspects underlying unequal teacher distribution:

    In the Gambia, there is no clear and coherent postings policy: teachers have no information on the duration of their particular posting and have no voice or choice in the postings process. This situation negatively impacts teachers’ motivation and discourage them to stay in the profession, not knowing what criteria govern the postings process. In any case, it is important to ensure that teachers are posted according to transparent and fair guidelines, also to allow necessary family arrangements. In fact, teachers’ postings encompass significant life changes for teachers and their families (schooling of their own children, availability of accommodation, transportation of furniture and personal belongings, etc.) which must be addressed with proper support measures.

    In the Gambia as in many other countries, the issue of teachers’ distribution is closely related to the qualified teacher gap since the proportion of unqualified teachers is higher in remote rural areas. Now, unqualified teachers face even poorer working conditions than qualified teachers: they enter the pay scale at the lowest grade (lower point of entry than drivers for the Department of State for Education!) and they don’t qualify for many allowances. It means that in such a case, any measures aiming at ensuring equal deployment of teachers should be combined with retention policies, providing training opportunities to unqualified teachers in rural areas and upgrading unqualified teachers’ working conditions and status.

    The Gambia also combines a gender gap with the qualified teacher gap in rural areas with the bulk of female teachers based in the more prosperous urban areas. Postings policies should therefore encompass provisions to train and retain female teachers in the profession. For example, unqualified female teachers receive no official maternity leave which forces them either to leave the profession or take their baby in the classroom, therefore affecting their teaching performance. Gender-oriented postings policies would also address specific difficulties facing female teachers when posted to remote or difficult areas, such as family duties, sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct for single women, living conditions (availability of staff quarters), etc.

    Late salary payment is another common problem facing Gambian teachers in rural areas. This issue contributes to teachers’ reluctance to accept a post in remote regions, eventually driving them out of the profession and the public sector. For teachers already in post; late payments directly affect education delivery by causing teachers’ absenteeism when teachers are forced to travel at their own expense, outside of their region or even to the capital, to receive their pay.

    These are only few examples of the driving forces behind unequal teacher deployment that the GMR should thoroughly examine beyond “management practices”.

    Going back to late salary payment, this last aspect offers an interesting case study of successful collaboration between public authorities and teachers’ organisations, an aspect that is notably absent in the GMR concept note. Indeed, as of September 2012, the Gambia Teachers’ Union Cooperative Credit Union (GTUCCU) is ensuring timely payment of all teachers in remote regions. This arrangement stems from the GTUCCU’s activism in providing evidence of late payment of teachers in rural areas and its negative impact on teachers’ motivation, attendance in the classroom and perceptions of teachers within the community. This is a good example of how cooperation between teachers’ unions and public authorities can help identify and tackle crucial issues on the ground benefitting from bottom-up communication. In this case, it has led to concrete improvements, not only to teachers’ working conditions but significantly, to education delivery and quality.

    It is therefore essential that the GMR 2013 highlight the positive impact of engaging with teachers’ organisations when conducting important reforms for which teachers can help identify needs and obstacles, develop appropriate solutions and implement reforms they would support and own.

    For further evidence on the Gambia, refer to: and

  18. This is a response posted on behalf of SIL (

    General Comments on GMR 2013 Thematic Note:
    • A stronger emphasis is needed throughout the discussion around teaching and learning that focusing on equality does not mean forsaking quality. Focusing on one does not need to mean forgetting about the other, this is a false dichotomy. Whilst the idea is touched on later in the thematic note, it should ideally to be spelt out earlier on and should be strongly highlighted in the final GMR. Quality education is not achieved through providing accessible opportunities for learners to participate, but occurs when each component of the process of education design and delivery is tailored to address the needs of the individual learners.
    • Equality does not mean one size fits all, the same for everyone. Whilst we can certainly learn from other situations/contexts, equality is only really achieved when solutions are tailored to individual circumstances and context-specific education design and deliver is provided. This is a key concept underscoring equity of educational experience.
    • Contextualisation of educational design and delivery will emphasise the responsibilities and accountability of providers to identify those who are the appropriate decision makers regarding education practice at community, national and international levels. Decisions relating to learning outcomes need to be appropriate to the context of learners and relate to development outcomes appropriate to the local, national and regional levels.
    • The links between education and promoting social cohesion and tolerance, particularly on page 4 of the thematic note, are very important. Where education is appropriate to peoples’ individual circumstances it provides opportunities for them to confidently build their own identity and participate in local, national and international development initiatives. This stronger understanding of ‘self’ leads to a better understanding of, and ultimately acceptance of, others. Such understandings underscore greater progress towards peace-building, increased social and political dialogue and the growth towards trust and transparency in development practices.
    • Providing ‘innovative and inclusive curriculum’ to assist teachers is essential (page 7 of the thematic note). Where curriculum allows students to build upon their existing knowledge (e.g. their own history, culture and language), education becomes more equitable and its quality and effectiveness is consequently improved.
    • There is a continuing need to problematize concepts such as ‘education’ and ‘development outcomes’. It would be good to take the opportunity presented by this GMR to explore these terms and provide a more holistic, worldwide, perspective on these ideas. Only by broadening definitions away from western/northern centric concepts will any future goals be fully inclusive of the wide range of issues currently facing communities worldwide.

    1. What development outcomes should be the focus post-2015, and how can education accelerate progress towards these outcomes?

    We feel that the first post-2015 development goal should be a life-long and life-wide Learning for All goal, because learning is foundational to all other aspects of development. Life-wide Learning (LWL) is a teaching strategy that involves real contexts and authentic settings, with the goal being to address different kinds of learning not covered in a traditional classroom. By including LWL with a traditional classroom, students are better equipped to attain whole person development and to develop the lifelong learning skills. (See for further information.)

    A “big solution”, addressing the needs of all learners is neither viable nor desirable. Education planning needs to be addressed through an examination of ‘what’s missing’ in the definition of the current goals, and an assessment of why the MDGs and other goals are not currently being met.

    Future development outcomes should consider wider societal aspects of life (e.g. freedom/tolerance, peace, good governance), not just focus on historically western/northern markers of ‘development’. This is key to addressing some of the prominent issues facing many countries worldwide (for example, financial markets and their control), and is also essential for reflecting the greater emphasis placed on ‘group’ (rather than individual) in the vast majority of societies globally. An assessment of the role of ethnolinguistic identity and its function in supporting effective participation in national development processes could potentially support improved development practices in areas in which progress has been slowest.

    Anecdotal evidence from South America suggests that the lack of transparency in the educational system stymies advances that might come through teacher education, learning and performance assessment and curriculum change. This is not formally documented or discussed. There is evidence in Latin America of bribes being paid at all levels for test scores, for teaching positions, administrative posts, and university entrance. Such practices underline the need for a clearer connection between wider societal values and education design and implementation. Quality assurance must be underpinned by transparent administrative and management practices.

    There has been some anxiety that the MDGs have been a western/northern development agenda, imposed by donors and international development agencies upon the nations of the south without adequate participation in goal-setting and implementation design from southern stakeholders. We are encouraged to learn about processes of dialogue and consultation that are in place for any future ‘goals’, through the Institute of Development Studies at University of Sussex ( and other agencies ( It is vital that the voices of the south be heard in order that teaching and learning addresses the development goals specific for the contexts in which progress is most urgently needed.

    There should be an increased emphasis on the importance of understanding the land in which communities live. Respecting natural resources and protecting and making use of the knowledge about these resources is key to the sustainability of any development outcomes. Ignoring the wealth of knowledge that exists in local communities, through the exclusion of these communities (or their knowledge) in education processes, will lead to further environmental challenges posing major obstacles to development outcomes.

    There needs to be an increased recognition of the importance of intergenerational learning, linking what is learned by children in school with the needs and desires of families for their children and their community development, particularly in relation to language, culture and identity. There should be greater investment in education for parenting, as well as effective pre-school and early learning options, in recognition of the role of the parent as a child’s “first teacher” (Ball 2011). The role of maternal literacy in effective development practices ( should receive increased focus, with improved investment in adult learning.

    Contextualisation of ‘development outcomes’ is imperative. Legitimate, relevant development may look very different from one context to another; for this reason, care must be taken not to apply ‘universalized’ notions of development outcomes to community contexts without an examination of what the target communities consider to be acceptable and desirable development outcomes. Without involvement and ownership of development outcomes by those being targeted, there can be little if any sustainable development impact. In a similar vein, the assumption that learning assessment can or should be based on a set of ‘universals’ generated in the global north needs to be challenged; and efforts need to be made to contextualize learning assessment and the standardization of curriculum or learning outcomes.

    In many areas, unequal assignment of resources is evident between urban and rural schools. For example, there may be appropriate and well-designed assessment tools and practices being used in urban schools, but in rural areas – and particularly where ethnolinguistic communities are using non-dominant languages – reliable assessment is not happening. Some NGO/INGO education initiatives develop assessment practices, however, they are not more widely disseminated to public schools.

    Equal access to quality schooling should not lead to replicable models incorporated ‘as is’ across all nations. Dialogue between countries is key to ensuring context appropriate models are incorporated, with particular efforts given to decentralising goals/development.

    Not all the MDGs have yet been met. A thorough review should be conducted to understand, as much as is possible, which have not yet been met, why, and whether they are still valid ‘targets’ for continued progress towards. Country and regional level evaluation of progress towards the MDGs and Education for All could lead to more focused goals going forward, tailored to both national and local level development needs.

    2. What evidence could we draw on to demonstrate that it is not just access to education but improved learning outcomes that accelerates the achievement of development outcomes?

    From Bangladesh, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Facility (CHTDF) Annual Report (2011) states that: “results can be seen by the data in the net enrolment of around 90% (which constitutes a 16% increase since 2010) and gross enrolment of 95%. Absenteeism is at the lowest level with attendance rate at 94% in 132 supported schools where MLE (Multi-Lingual Education) has been introduced. Nearly 600 local teachers were deployed in 300 CHTDF run schools under the HDCs and trained on child-friendly teaching-learning methods which helped ensure retention and increase quality education” (p. 2). This quotation underlines the importance of quality teacher training and the deployment of local teachers in ensuring improvement of retention of learners in school and increased access to quality education.

    “Increased community ownership, active participation of SMCs (School Management Committee) and MGs (Mother Groups) in developing School Development Plans (SDP), raising community awareness and mobilizing community resources to promote access to quality education have helped in strengthening the education system. 300 schools received SDP grants through the SMCs, which were successfully utilized. Transparency was ensured by publicly displaying the grants allocated to each school.” (p. 25).

    There are also tangible results in health services with a reduction of mortality and morbidity. In agriculture, a strategy was developed and coverage increased to cover 62 communities with five irrigation schemes. The cross-cutting themes of women’s improvement and environmental protection were a part of all of CHTDF activities (p.i).
    For further information see the Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Facility Annual Report 2011 (

    3. What are the implications of inequality in education and learning in holding back progress in development outcomes?

    This depends, heavily, on what you mean by ‘education’ and what your development outcomes are. Care is needed not to define education too narrowly as ‘school learning’. In many communities a lot of the most useful/applicable learning (in so far as traditionally understood ‘development outcomes’ are concerned) occurs outside of the classroom, e.g. at home, in the fields etc. We also need to take care in assuming that ‘education’ leads to progress in ‘development outcomes’? We feel that more evidence is needed to ensure that this argument is put beyond dispute.

    Where learners’ language and culture are excluded from education, this has long-term societal implications as to attitudes towards cultures/languages. Views about language status are often created and/or reinforced through formal structures such as schooling and the attitudes of teachers towards the home background and ethnolinguistic identity of learners. The impact of such attitudinal communication on inter-community life should not be underestimated. Peace and social cohesion can be impacted by messages imbibed by learners during the formal education process. Equally, if we want to see communities making the most use of the valuable resources (physical and knowledge) that they have, we must ensure that structures such as education do not reinforce attitudes that will undermine their value in other parts of life.

    Qualitative research in the southern Philippines on the impact of mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) suggests that the use of local languages in education emphasises the role of language and culture in supporting identity and self-worth. For example, one parent noted: “The best thing in this [MTB-MLE] is that it makes us realize our own worth”.

    4. What successful examples can provide evidence on the vital role that teachers play in promoting improved learning, especially for low achievers?

    Walter, S. & Dekker, D. (2011). Mother Tongue Instruction in Lubuagan: A Case Study from the Philippines. International Review of Education, 57, (5-6). 667-683.
    A striking feature of the Lubuagan research data is the variation in teacher quality. The students of high performing teachers outscored those of low-performing teachers by as much as 70% (within each of the instructional models). In the Cameroonian research (Walter and Trammell, 2008) the differences were even greater – as much as 100% – again with similar levels of variation observed within instructional models. Comparable results were also found in research done in Eritrea (Walter and Davis, 2005) (p. 681).

    Personal observations by SIL staff of education provision in low-income countries indicates that access is not indicative of learning, and certainly not quality learning. Teachers need to have the opportunity to understand the content of the curriculum and deliver the curriculum using learner-centred approaches, reviewing learning comprehension of both content and application of the content. This is often in contrast with the learning experiences that teachers themselves have experienced in their own basic education and in their own teacher training experience. Large class sizes and multi-grade classrooms make this particularly challenging unless teachers are carefully equipped to specifically address these issues.

    5. How can policymakers prioritize policy choices they face in teacher reforms to improve learning?

    Policy choices need to be based on the full value of each option, not just financial value. Cultural, moral, environmental, spiritual and social values comprise the social capital from which human development can grow. Culture and history of communities should also inform the direction of policy choices. These policy choices would be informed by changing gender roles, decisions on community ownership and empowerment options; issues associated with the decentralization of decision-making and implementation of development planning.

    6. What are examples of curriculum and assessment reforms that have supported teachers in improving learning?

    When teacher training occurs in a dialogic manner that builds on teacher’s prior knowledge and listens to their voices, developing confidence in their ability to learn and to affect curriculum reform rather than merely prescribing new curricula from top-down sources, mother tongue-based multilingual education can be particularly effective in supporting teachers in improving the learning of their students.

    Inclusion of culturally sensitive curriculum is a reform that has also supported teachers in improving learning, particularly alongside local development of teaching/learning materials.

    Other references:
    Bartlett, S. 2010. Improving Learning Achievement in Early Primary in Low-Income Countries. Aga Khan Foundation. (

    Wagner, D., Murphy, K and De Korne, H. 2012. Learning First: A Research Agenda for Improving Learning in Low-Income Countries. Center for Universal Education at Brookings. Working Paper 7, December 2012. (

  19. Response on behalf of NZEI Te Riu Roa:

    1.0 Introduction
    1.1 NZEI Te Riu Roa is the largest education union in New Zealand, representing the professional and industrial issues of its 51,415 members working as early childhood education teachers, primary school teachers, school principals, school support staff and special education professionals. NZEI is a Treatybased organisation.

    1.2 NZEI supports all children having access to high quality early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary education that equips them for employment and an enjoyable life. NZEI defends and support high quality teaching. We are committed to principles of social justice, fairness and collectivism. We continue to be instrumental in shaping the professional identity of teachers through democratic processes and provide collective representation of these members. NZEI advocates raising the status, professionalism and the overall quality of the teaching workforce and contributing to a democratic New Zealand society.

    NZEI believes that all education unions have a vital role to play in providing opportunities for teachers to have a voice in their own practice and to influence the working conditions that support quality learning.

    2.0 The NZ context
    2.1 Like other countries, the education system in New Zealand is increasingly influenced by political ideology – particularly the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) and the world economic crisis.
    2.2 Recent studies1 into child poverty in New Zealand indicate that socio-economic factors have the greatest influence over the learning and achievement of children living in poverty; these children are overrepresented in New Zealand’s tail of under-achievement. It is critical that rather than directing resources and funding to measuring achievement, coordinated programmes must begin to address the socioeconomic factors that have the highest impact on children’s learning and achievement.
    2.3 Despite evidence indicating that rather than supporting engagement and participation, charter schools have increased inequity for disadvantaged students based on culture, race or socio-economic status and undermined the public schools most children attend,2 the New Zealand government is pushing forward with a policy of developing charter schools.
    2.4 International experience suggests that charter schools and the public private partnership model will not provide the context to support community led education because their first priority is their own viability as a commercial enterprise3. Moreover, charter schools do worse or no better than mainstream public schools and often fail to eliminate the tail of under achievement about which the New Zealand Government is rightly concerned.4 The NZ government has resiled from its responsibility to provide quality public education in an effort to reduce costs. Money would be better spent addressing the wider socio-economic issues and would provide greater benefit to students who are struggling. Alongside the serious societal inequities, NZEI believe the Government needs to fulfil its commitment to bilingual education and other Treaty of Waitangi issues.

    3.0 Poverty
    3.1 In a country of 4 million people, that three hundred thousand children are living in poverty is a cause of national shame. Over 30,000 children are believed to be living in conditions where they are at risk of being placed in care. Recent reports and submissions5 show very clearly that New Zealand’s appalling level of child poverty needs to be addressed if the Government is serious about wanting to lift these children out of poverty and risk and enable them to achieve educational success.
    3.2 In focusing on children in state care, or at risk of entering state care, the New Zealand Government is focusing on a very narrow definition of vulnerable. This definition needs to go further to ensure that policies focusing on eliminating or countering the effects of poverty are equitable.
    3.3 Eliminating child poverty requires a bold approach including a fair and universal approach to supporting children to participate in society. The current government’s ‘Action for Plan for Children’ continues the piecemeal practices and policies of the past. NZEI strongly support the development and resourcing of an overall Action Plan for ALL New Zealand Children, supported by the appointment of Minister for Children, legislation, robust and sustained funding, and including an audit of Government legislation and policy to ensure there are not hidden negative consequences for children.

    4.0 Early Childhood Education (ECE)
    4.1 In New Zealand, the ECE sector has seen a shift towards incorporating new ways of working to enable early education and care services to play a central role in building democratic communities, family resilience and wellness and inclusion. ECE services are pivotal place for communities and the families within those communities. Unfortunately, neoliberal politics in New Zealand have encouraged the development of profit driven early childhood education providers where there is often little accountability to the families or communities who use these services.
    Government provision
    4.2 According to Government criteria, NZ enjoys 95% participation in ECE. Unfortunately, participation statistics indicate that there is inequitably representation of some ethnic groups in New Zealand’s 20 hours free policy that enables 20 hours ECE participation for all children over 3 years of age.
    4.3 The government has made 98% participation by 2016 a priority. NZEI recognises this as a laudable goal but has long held that participation must be in quality ECE and sustained over time to enable services to make a difference in children’s learning and lives. The positive impact of quality ECE is supported by research6 indicating that good quality ECE can ameliorate the effects of poverty and the risks to children.
    ECE funding
    4.4 Quality ECE provision is critical to the future success of children in further education. Government’s decision (for the third year in a row) in the 2012 budget not to increase ECE funding in line with inflation means effectively a $40 million cut from the sector. While NZEI welcomed the increase in equity funding, this must come on top of a robust and fair universal funding model to e sustainable.
    4.5 Pay parity between primary and ECE teachers is under serious attack with the majority of services falling behind parity. The harsh negotiation climate is (in part) indicative of the impact of government funding policies on the ability of services to pay teachers fairly.
    4.6 Only a quarter of New Zealand centres will benefit from the increase in equity funding of $47.87 million.
    Many Māori and Pasifika children will not benefit from equity funding adjustments, despite the government’s focus on increased participation for these groups.
    4.7 NZEI continues to advocate for quality ECE and against further cuts. The government’s current policy means that 50% of teachers can be unqualified and services can only receive the funding level of 80% as a maximum. Government policy indicates the low value placed on services, government’s lack of understanding of the importance of quality ECE to the child’s current and future health, and economic and social well-being, and government’s lack of esteem for ECE teachers as a profession.

    5.0 Community redevelopment after natural disasters – a note on Christchurch
    5.1 The devastating earthquakes in Christchurch in 2010/2011, demonstrated the pivotal role that geographical community plays in the lives of those who live in them – particularly the community of children.
    5.2 International experience suggests that the risk of human rights violations during a disaster increases in proportion to the length of the disaster. Aftershocks from the 2010 and 2011, Christchurch earthquakes continued well into 2012 resulting not only in a disruption to services and a loss of community, but also the loss of democratic rights and decision making in general. Local elections are suspended until 2016 and a commissioner has been put in place. There has been a marked lack of consultation with communities – with decisions being made about rather than with the people of Christchurch.
    5.3 The Christchurch Ombudsman recently found the Ministry of Education acted wrongly in its handling of requests for official information about Christchurch school closures. Further investigation is planned into whether the Ministry’s processes for disclosure of information are adequate to ensure effective and sufficient public consultation around school closures. The Chief Ombudsman will investigate concerns that the broader public sector is not managing requests for information under the Official Information Act as well as it should.
    Christchurch schools
    5.4 Teachers and others working in schools play an important part in the recovery of a community after a disaster. They are often the one constant in a life suddenly changed. NZEI primary classroom teacher members in Christchurch voted for a one-day strike to let the Government know that issues remain unresolved since the main earthquakes. These teachers have asked for a long-term programme to support and train educators to work alongside other organisations addressing children’s ongoing emotional and mental health issues.
    Christchurch ECE services
    5.5 For many of Christchurch’s youngest children, ECE services provided stability, continuity and connection to their communities and the ideal place for continued democratic participation for families and whanau. Many community centres in eastern and central Christchurch continue to suffer because of quake related funding losses. These centres are part of the essential infrastructure for the families they serve. Despite staff working in difficult and challenging conditions (venues not normally used for childcare, supporting vulnerable children and families, ongoing after-shocks, etc), teachers and staff continue
    to support/deliver the early childhood curriculum at a high standard as part of their commitment to our youngest learners7.

    6.0 Food in schools and ECE services
    6.1 New Zealand must adopt a universal coordinated approach so that all children in need get access to quality food. Countries with high educational outcomes such as Finland already ensure that all children have access to quality food in schools. This avoids stigmatisation and ensures greater equity in schools – both very important for overall quality public education.
    6.2 Individual New Zealand schools and services should not be left to broker deals with the private sector to provide food in schools. This will only widen inequities and some children will inevitably miss out. It would also take valuable time away from quality teaching and learning.

    7.0 Investing in Teacher Development to Strengthen Equitable Learning
    7.1 New Zealand schools and ECE services are expected to create conditions where learning is creative and collaborative. On-going quality teacher development is vital if this is to occur.
    ECE services
    7.2 In the Kindergarten/state sector, on-going professional development is the responsibility of the kindergarten associations and funded by the government. This is particularly important when one considers the range of qualifications held by teachers. Most kindergartens operate with 100% qualified teachers although the government only funds 80%.
    7.3 Knowledge is limited regarding the extent and quality of professional development afforded to teachers in individual or chains of private providers.
    7.4 In schools, the accompanying professional learning opportunities are focused on traditional content, traditional tools, traditional processes and inevitably traditional responses. For example, under the scrutiny of the National Standards initiative, the professional learning contexts in primary schools are all related to reading, writing and mathematics and associated assessment practices and tools.8
    7.5 The intent of the New Zealand Picot taskforce9 was “people in the institutions should make as many
    of the decisions that affect the institution as possible” and this became the basic concept of self-managing schools. Within this intent, the process of decision-making in schools considers the school and reflects national requirements. Decisions about teacher development, therefore, are personalised to staff and the identified learning needs of students. The process is inclusive of parents and the community in the setting of goals and objectives. Unfortunately, this can lead to ideosyncratic local professional development programmes.
    7.6 Teacher development programmes on offer by the Government to schools are generally “top-down” and a form of accountability (eg the Government’s National Standards policy). Teachers, therefore, are seen as implementers of policies and plans developed by others. The “improving classroom practice” model used by the Ministry contributes only marginally to the wider professional knowledge in the system. It also shows a lack of trust in teachers.
    7.7 For the schools sector, there is insufficient research and development funding to support high quality professional development. This has lead to a focus on professional development opportunities focused on the Government’s relatively short-term priorities and programmes – and overtime, to a narrowing of the delivered curriculum. Ideologically driven professional development does little to develop a culture of inquiry and reflective practice. Short-term intervention is insufficient for teachers to sustain practice.

    8.0 Performance management in schools
    8.1 Essentially performance management systems in New Zealand schools are a managerial matter derived from a business environment and represent an exercise in power and control over classroom teachers by the very hierarchical structures and processes in play. Generally, the appraisal processes in schools do not reflect how teachers work, or are expected to work. The managerial model does not encourage innovation or reflective process.
    8.2 To satisfy NZEI, the design of any appraisal process for professional teaching, therefore, will need to step beyond the current obsession with using student achievement data, the measurement of short-term inputs and outputs and rigid attempts to measure and micro-manage individual teachers against Ministry-prescribed standard
    9.0 Creating environments for diverse learners
    9.1 Schools and ECE services are institutions where diversity is the norm, among the staff, the children and their families/whanau, and the communities they served.
    9.2 While the holistic early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki, the New Zealand curriculum and the education sector strategic plan celebrate the place and value of the child in learning and offer opportunities for successfully working with diverse learners, these instruments exist in a political environment where the “risks to rights are numerous” (Te One, 2006, p.21).
    9.3 Many New Zealand children bring a basket of negative issues with them to schools and ECE services.
    Child poverty, violence, neglect and the abuse of children in their own home are the shameful results of decades of political manoeuvring, devastating changes to the social “safety net,” and the global economic environment. In this environment, teachers need ongoing, continuous support to address diverse learning needs and educational disparity. Quality teaching means teachers develop a learning context where the culture is central.
    9.4 To practice quality teaching, teachers need to be engaged in professional learning that is transformative and where the needs of specific groups of students provide the content and the learning results focus on changing long-established practices in ways to enhance the learning opportunities.
    9.5 What is required are new approaches based on developing a teaching and learning culture of inquiry and research at all levels and across all sectors in the education system.
    • At the teaching level – teachers need opportunities and resources to develop greater capacity to use inquiry and problem solving methods
    • At a regional level – systems, structures and processes should be in place to respond to and inform policy, provide resources and forums in which new professional knowledge can be shared and debated.
    • At a national level – the Ministry must begin to plan for long-term development.
    9.6 Unfortunately, none of the above criteria has been met by the current Government’s education policy or initiatives. National standards, budget-driven decisions on class-size, continued debates around school and ECE service league tables show this to be the case.
    Indigenous education – Te reo, tikanga Māori and the Māori community
    9.7 In New Zealand, it is critical that teaching reflects an understanding of the role of the Treaty of
    Waitangi. The absence of a focus on the Treaty of Waitangi principle – because imperatives are elsewhere – is not acceptable. Neither is there space for ‘marketisation’ of education in this view as the moral purpose of education is stripped away.
    9.8 Findings from the New Zealand Council on Education Research (NZCER) survey (Burgon et al., 2012) found a range of differences in responses to suggest that learning Te reo and tikanga is not seen as relevant by some principals and teachers in schools where there are fewer Māori students (p93).
    Such a perception suggests a misunderstanding of the imperative to build the bicultural knowledge of all students and the need to foster a learning climate where Māori students can prosper and enjoy success as Māori.
    Special Education needs
    9.9 Inclusive education must meet the needs of all learners. Thirty-eight percent of teachers responding the NZCER survey10 (said they wanted better provision for students with special needs. This finding was consistently and spontaneously by primary classroom teachers during the development of the collective bargaining claim early in 2012.
    9.10 The Ministry is currently reshaping the special education workforce and prioritising certain groups of children. It remains to be seen whether this approach will enable inclusive learning for all children, including those with special needs, or if some children will miss out because of changes to the criteria for assistance, or if the changes are merely part of a cost-saving initiative.
    9.11 NZEI believes it is critical that the services to children with special education needs remain
    centralised and sustainably resourced. The New Zealand government is currently capping the hiring and replacement of special education staff, preferring to outsource work; thereby reducing the capacity of the current workforce to provide quality service across the education sector.

    10.0 Conditions that support quality teaching
    10.1 Teachers need the conditions that support their work and enable them to meet current and new challenges. To promote quality teaching, teachers must be part of identifying the problems and solutions and there must be time for teachers to teach and not distracted by political whims. Teacher unions must be considered a key stakeholder in matters impacting on the professional and industrial issues of their members.
    10.2 The narrow focus on individual teacher quality in New Zealand is politically popular at the moment because it conveniently allows governments to ignore their responsibility to properly resource public education, and distracts attention from the wider context in which education occurs. The NZEI focus on the quality of teaching, rather than the quality of teachers, is deliberate. The phrase “teacher quality” personalises and fixes the terms of the discussion onto individual teachers, rather than recognising that teachers’ work is highly contextualised and their ability to provide quality teaching depends on many factors. The phrase “quality teaching” emphasises that the values, knowledge and competencies that inform the work of teaching are not individual and fixed attributes but something all educators should be enabled to aspire to, acquire and continue to demonstrate across all the contexts within which they work.
    10.3 Teachers must play a major role, as do most professionals, in setting the standards of their own profession. This would ensure teachers continue to have collective ownership and responsibility to set standards and maintain them.

    11.0 Conclusion
    11.1 A commitment to equity must come first. A quality public education system that addresses the learning needs of diverse learners must sit within a wider societal commitment to valuing children, reducing inequities, and ensuring access to services that they require. Quality teaching is about much more than individual teacher characteristics or quantitative learner results. Teachers are motivated to make a positive difference for the learners in their classrooms and services when they are supported to do so.
    What are needed are a new agenda and new forms of relationships in what already exists, that is, between teachers and the system that supports them, between research and inquiry, between equity and excellence and so on.
    11.2 In 2012, NZEI proposed an innovative and future focussed framework to enable appropriate recognition for roles, responsibilities and expertise, sufficient and effective resourcing, professional development opportunities for all, a consistent attestation model based on practice, an accessible career progression and a cross-sector commitment to developing this work. Although there was no actual financial disadvantage to current employees’ remuneration and recognition as a result to changes to current models, the Ministry disregarded the proposal. NZEI was disappointed that government ideology continues to focus on individual teacher quality rather than working collaboratively to put in place a framework that enables excellence across the education sector.
    11.3 Moving into a future where education improves prosperity of individuals, families and prosperity will require all parties to show commitment, effort and a willingness to engage in new ways of thinking and working.

    Office of the Children’s Commissioner. (2012). The green paper on vulnerable children: Position of the children’s commissioner. Office of the Children’s Commissioner: Wellington.
    Office of the Children’s Commissioner. (2012). Solutions to child poverty in New Zealand. Office of the Children’s Commissioner: Wellington.
    O’Neill, J. & Snook, I. (2012). Education policy response group report. Retrieved on 11 September 2012 from
    2 Carpenter, V. (2011). Teaching New Zealand’s children of the poor. In V. Carpenter, J. Jesson, P. Roberts &
    M. Stephenson (Eds.), Ngaa kaupapa here; connections and contradictions in education. South Melbourne: Cengage Learning Australia Pty Limited.
    Child Poverty Action Group NZ (CPAG), 2011. The Parallel Universe of the Welfare Working Group.
    Retrieved May 20, 2011 from workinggroup/
    3 Ibid
    4 O’Neill, J. & Snook, I. (2012). Education policy response group report. Retrieved on 11 September 2012 from
    5 NZEI Te Riu Roa. (2012). Submission to the Ministry of Social Development green paper on vulnerable children. NZEI Te Riu Roa: Wellington.
    Office of the Children’s Commissioner. (2012). The green paper on vulnerable children: Position of the children’s commissioner.
    Office of the Children’s Commissioner: Wellington.
    6 Early Childhood Education Sector Advisory Group Report – Sector-wide quality. Retrieved September 20, 2012 from
    Early Childhood Education Taskforce (2011, June). ECE Taskforce: An Agenda for Amazing Children (Final Report). Retrieved June 2, 2011 from
    Mitchell. L. 2006. Why free early childhood education? A policy based on evidence and children’s rights.
    Retrieved October 2, 2012 from
    Perry, B. 2011. Non-income measures of material wellbeing and hardship; first results from the 2008 New
    Zealand Living Standards Survey, with international comparisons. 2010, Ministry of Social Development: Wellington.
    Smith, A. B., Grima, G., Gaffney, M. & Powell, K. (2000). Early Childhood Education: Literature review report to the Ministry of Education. Children’s issues Centre, Dunedin, NZ.
    7 Duncan, J. & Te One, S. (2012). Comparative early childhood education services: International perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan: NZ.
    8 Burgon, J., Hipkins, R. and Hodgen, E. (2012) ‘The primary school curriculum: Assimilation, adaptation, transformation. NZC at primary and intermediate level: findings from the NZCER National Survey of primary schools (2010).
    9 Picot, B. (chair) (1988). Administering for Excellence. Effective Administration in Education. Report of the Taskforce to Review Education Administration
    10 Burgon, J., Hipkins, R. and Hodgen, E. (2012) ‘The primary school curriculum: Assimilation, adaptation, transformation. NZC at primary and intermediate level: findings from the NZCER National Survey of primary schools (2010).

  20. There is science that has pretty clear implications with respect to teaching for development: Cognitive neurocience, most notably the older cognitive psychology.

    Unfortunately faculties of education don’t teach it, so well-meaning people can’t easily find the answers and hone in on them. Instead, long messages are written on peripheral issues.

    Lessons from cognitive neuroscience on Basic skills for the poor are:

    – we learn most efficiently when combining small chunks into big chunks; letters to words, numbers into operations, movements into checking your mobile phone. Instruction must offer very small pieces gradually and with a lot of practice.
    – We learn best if we are presented with patterns of analogies: ka ke ki ko ku.
    – A few hours of practice connect pieces into longer chains. These ought to be performed automatically rather than with consious searching.
    – Our memory system needs the above because our short term memory has very limited capacity. Very roughly for little-known material it amouts to 7 items in 12 seconds. So we need to read, calculate, perform fast ! Speed matters !! Only then does comprehension come about !!
    – So the instruction of basic skills for the poor must aim at automatizing low-level pieces of information into chunks.
    – To direct practice we need feedback, and the poor don’t get any. Teachers work with the few who can perform, abandoning everyone else.

    You may find the above methodology boring and antiquated. That’s because we are all middle class, and our children perform faster and better. But we give them all extra instructional time at home. Then they can do whole word approaches, instant mental math, etc. For the poorest, the cognitive basics need to be carried out in the class.

    So, right to education means right to fluent and automatic reading and calculations. Child-centered activity means feedback, even for a few moments.

    Where has all this been tried? Gambia and Cambodia reading programs, where GPE has given technical assistance. Write me for outcomes.

    Can donor staff get over their middle-class view of education and help governments perform the above basic functions? Strangely that is the big challenge.

    Best regards,
    Helen Abadzi
    Senior Education Specialist
    (Educational psychologist, PhD)
    Global Partnership for Education

  21. A warm greetings from the captial of Afghanistan, Kabul. providing a quality education for all through out the world without competent teachers and required resources or inputs are completely impossible. in this regards, few attentions have been given by the developing countries and international communities. we are just to arrive to our EFA goals by 2015 but still the situation is not as we desired in the dakar 2000 conference, but still we have time to put our attentions on teaching and learning for better development and enhancement of the education system in conflict and post-conflict countries or in developing countries. lets adapt some new strategies in order to fill this huge gap in the world. let me give and example from Afghanistan. Above 68% of teachers have twelve grade qualification or less than that and consider what the situation is in Afghanistan.
    According to my experience, more attentions should be given to teachers’ qualification, incentives, and salaries. The requirements for teachers should have the basis of deman-driven not supply-driven. lets focus on the pupils/teacher ratio too. allocation of resources for schools’ administrations and students should also be taken into account. without bullets, it is impossible to fire a gun. Resources are like bullets and make us able to defeat the enemy. There are number of students around the world who are without textbooks and learning materials.

  22. Case of Pakistan
    Here is a brief analysis of situation of Pakistan in terms of achieving EFA objectives.
    • In 2010, through a constitutional amendment (18th amendment), education has been accepted as a fundamental human right. This is certainly a positive move in line with first EFA objective.
    • In relation with the second EFA objective, Ministry of Education, Pakistan produced curricula for school subjects in 2006 and 2007. A national textbook policy was also launched in 2007 to bring a textbook reform. The aim was to introduce diverse, useful, engaging content to provide productive education to the students.
    • Pakistan has also progressed regarding third EFA objectives. Some of the developments are:
    i. Adoption of the concept of Child Friendly Schools
    With collaboration of UNICEF, the concept has been implemented in many schools across the country.
    ii. National Standards for Teachers
    Standards for teachers were developed in 2009. Though they are very naive but at least they have been developed.
    iii. National Accreditation Council for Teacher Education Programs was established.
    i. According to Global Competitive Index (GCI) report 2007, Pakistan is falling much behind India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and China in areas/ indicators of Health and Primary Education. Moreover it has to be realized that even the sustainability and improvement of other indicators depend on education (p. 5 National Textbook Policy, 2009).
    ii. Though policies and curricula had been developed at national level, however, after devolution of education to provincial level in 2010, implementation of these policies has not been done in true spirit.
    iii. Till now, no multiple textbooks (a condition of textbook policy 2007) are available in any province.
    iv. In the curricula, citizenship education has been given a lot of emphasis but in textbooks, we do not see an emphasis.
    v. In fact, till now we have not been able to produce all books in line with the national curricula.
    vi. Textbooks are being launched without any pilot testing.
    vii. Copies of curriculum documents are not available in all schools. Most of the teachers have never seen these documents. They are available on the website of ministry of education but most of the teachers are not technology literate. Frequent power cuts also hinder people to access electronic materials.
    viii. A lot of teacher education programmes are being run for the inservice teachers in Pakistan but it is important to note that there is hardly any training component on EFA targets and Millennium Development Goals. No exclusive training on curriculum has been organized yet.
    ix. In Pakistan, we see traditional mind set and practices regarding curriculum and teaching. Teachers still believe that curriculum is textbooks and their responsibility is to cover the textbooks content in class. There is little or no innovation. Still we believe in compartmentalization of subjects heavily loaded with information which children have to memorize. Students’ test performance is the only means to measure their students’ learning.
    x. Training is heavily clustered around teaching school content, lesson planning and the use of audio visual aids. Audio visual aids have been reduced to the use of chart papers by teacher educators and teachers in classrooms. As a result, teachers think that they are not resourceful if there are not enough chart papers available.
    xi. No exclusive trainings on Integrated Curriculum, Multigrade Teaching and Innovative School Practices are organized.
    xii. Despite of a lot of teacher training programmes, there is no qualitative change in the state of education. We have not been able to address the issues of Health, Hygiene, respect for diversity and environmental care through our curriculum.
    xiii. Decision making on education is mostly done by bureaucracy and political leadership. Professionals are least involved in crucial decision-making.
    xiv. We are still teaching our students the content not related to current situation or future requirements. Most of the content taught in primary grades is about Great personalities, Muslim Rulers, Historical Places etc.
    xv. Monitoring teams are only concerned with paper work. The biggest problem which has emerged in past 5-6 years in Pakistan is that everything is being done on papers. Teachers are doing wonderful lesson planning and students’ assessment on papers. School heads are maintaining records on papers. Monitoring teams are using paper evidence and reporting increased enrollment rate, decreased drop out and improved results in final assessments. In fact, there are only a few practices in Pakistani Education which may be reported as example cases.
    xvi. Life skills are not being integrated into teaching. Lifelong learning and learning skills are not considered and valued as part of formal education by teachers as well as teacher educators.
    xvii. Teaching is still last career choice for majority of the people.
    xviii. School leadership does not allow any experimentation and innovation in most of the schools.
    Despite of progressing towards achieving EFA goals and targets, Pakistan is far behind achieving them. At this point, some alternative ways should also be tried to accelerate the rate of change. Some of them could be:
    i. Media campaign on education. There will not be a change unless Education is taken as a Survival Need by the masses and media can develop people’s positive perceptions more easily as compared to other institutions. Currently education programs are not a priority for media because of business reasons. However, mechanisms may be chalked out if media has to be involved.
    ii. Education for Sustainable Development with a greater emphasis on care for environment, health, inclusion and community hygiene MUST be made part school education and the misconception that education is only literacy and numeracy OUGHT to be challenged.
    iii. Teacher educators need consistent support and training to help them to grow as innovative professionals who can in turn inspire the prospective teachers. Extrinsic rewards will not serve the purpose. There MUST be self-motivation for learning and growth.
    iv. Teaching MUST be taken as a profession at all levels. Like other professionals, there should be teachers’ and Teacher Educators’ licensing. The license should be renewed after 3-5 years depending on a test of the practitioners’ awareness and practice of new trends in education. Licensing Body should comprise of teaching professionals NOT politicians or bureaucrats.
    v. School improvement should be based upon whole school development model.
    vi. There must be more training of school heads and they need to be made accountable of school’s performance instead of some outside people like Education Officers.
    vii. Parents need to be involved school decision making.
    viii. Medium of Instruction should be bilingual in early grades to ensure ‘construction of meaning’ on students’ part.
    ix. There MUST be massive production of children’s materials including electronic educational games, supplementary readers (fiction & non-fiction) and simple low cost educational toys.
    x. Skill development may be made part of the school curricula and it should be formally assessed.
    xi. Teachers should be part of the bodies responsible for decision making for teachers.

  23. AusAID comments on the draft plan for the EFA GMR 2013 – Teaching and Learning for Development:

    • AusAID is pleased that the 2013 report is on teaching and learning and with a focus on ‘equitable education’. It would be useful if the report could provide a comprehensive framework for ‘equitable education’ for analysing and assessing resourcing and performance in the context of the capacity of low income countries.
    • The post 2015 agenda is still very much under discussion but it appears from the report outline that it is assumed that the policy agenda will inevitably move to social and political challenges such as promoting tolerance, democracy, peace and security, and environment issues.
    o There is a risk that this agenda will move the focus off the as yet unrealised improvement of learning for all, unless these social goods more tightly related to the consequences of improving young people’s capabilities through learning and skills acquisition.

    Part 1 – Education for development post-2015
    The planned section on the positive effects of equitable education on poverty reduction, productivity and economic growth will be a valuable resource for policy makers and education, particularly if, as the note promises, it indicates why not foregrounding equity has limited the achievement of the MDGs goals. UNESCO notes that the effects of education on economic growth are contested – it will be useful to have this issue examined to clarify the directions of causality and identify what effects of education are most clearly associated with economic growth.
    The focus on relevant curriculum for productivity and entrepreneurship, is welcome, including the emphasis on the development of skills for rural productivity.
    The case for measurement of learning will be important especially if it is not at the cost of measures of attainment which are necessary for measuring system performance, and if it takes account of current global work on learning measurement.
    Discussion of teacher recruitment, deployment and governance is welcomed as areas of reform related to improving equitable outcomes, especially if teacher quality is discussed in the context of the capacity of low income countries to provide for vastly expanded student enrolment and the increasing pressure on access to secondary education.
    The section on education promoting good health and nutrition outcomes is welcomed. It could be strengthened by including not just the “importance of cognitive skills in adopting appropriate…nutrition practices” but also an analysis of the effects of poor nutrition on children’s ability to learn.
    The section on education’s contributions to social and political outcomes – there will be two further editions of the GMR – on learning and teaching for sustainable development (2013), and on assessing overall progress since Dakar (2014/2015) – both providing opportunities for influencing global discussions on education and development.
    However given that by 2014 the direction of the post 2015 goals is likely to be set, it would be useful to include in the 2013 GMR an assessment of lessons learned in the work towards the EFA goals over the last 13 years and a survey of, for example, challenges remaining; the role and effectiveness of the global education architecture in advancing the education goals. A survey of this sort could help inform direction and method for the post 2015 goals.
    Part 2 – Teaching and learning for maximum impact
    AusAID considers that the report would be strengthened by the inclusion of the following:
    • more prominence on teaching and learning for literacy acquisition. Policies and practices relating to literacy acquisition for poor students: how to close the gap for children from non-literate families and communities; what can be done to bridge to the literate culture of schools. A related is issue is the importance of literacy throughout schooling not only in early grades because of the dependence of success in later learning on mastery of information in texts
    • more focus on gender difference in learning outcomes. For example, analysis of the different causes of boys’ and girls’ success in school; and more discussion of the consequences for post-school earnings and life chances
    • more focus on curriculum and teaching and learning differentiation for children with disabilities and more discussion on issues of their identification for purposes of tracking system performance in this area.
    It would be useful if this part could outline how teaching and learning reforms would impact equitable education – for example:
    • policies and experiences, relating to teacher recruitment and supply issues, that encourage solutions enabling ethnic minorities access to quality teaching
    • rights of untrained teachers (in contrast to ‘qualified/certified’ teachers)
    • first language issues, including the training of teachers
    • cross-sectoral implications of equitable learning, e.g. social protection measures, mothers’ literacy.
    The two core themes of the paper – equitable learning and improving teaching and learning – are not properly linked in the overview. The focus on teaching and learning needs to be linked definitively to equitable learning. This would address the problems that appeared from the first 13 years of the MDGs, i.e. access only, rather than quality.
    Case studies
    It would be valuable to include case studies of successful approaches to supporting teaching and learning in the context of marginalisation. AusAID suggest two programs:
    • The Philippines Response to Indigenous Peoples and Muslim Education (PRIME) program aims to improve access to quality education and better learning outcomes for indigenous peoples and Muslim communities. PRIME works in nine regions of the Philippines that have the lowest educational indicators.
    • The Laos-Australia Basic Education Program (LABEP), an AusAID-funded program, trained almost 380 teachers and also provided a supplementary curriculum; teaching and learning materials geared to the needs of ethnic children; teacher guides; and on-site help. It was an innovative approach to help lift the numbers of children from minority ethnic communities who complete primary school and increase literacy in Lao—a second language for many of the 49 ethnic groups in the country. A recent review demonstrated that the program had achieved medium term sustainable impacts.

  24. Hello Colleagues

    There are two important articles that you need to look that I think can contribute to improving learning outcomes. The first one is the Martin Carnoy Study that compares South African Schools with Schools in Botswana. He argues that the performance some South African schools is poor as a result of poor curriculum coverage and teachers not teaching enough at school. You can google this study and you could download. The other study once again drawing the same conclusion is the Foundation Phasse Study done by the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. This study also makes reference to the the optimal use of teaching time as a problem. Whilst I consider both these issues as very important I think two other variables must be taken into consideration. The first relates to teacher education and the key question is what kind of intellectual tools are we providing teachers when they are trained., The globalised environment and the current world context has shaped the context of teaching in learning in particular ways. How do you define a school in a poor area and what are its characteristics. We often regards schools based on our experiences when we were learners. School and contexts have changed considerably.

    The next issue is equity. The neo-liberal world seems to appreciate and value “show and tell” or superficiality rather than deep educational change. I have pasted an article below which I think is key to changing learning outcomes. The articles talks about ECD as an intervention. I hope the paste works.

    Chapter 9
    The provision of early childhood education

    Dr Sigamoney Manicka Naicker
    Chief Director: Curriculum Development
    Western Cape Education Department

    9.1 Introduction
    South Africa is a developing country with huge disparities derived from the apartheid dispensation. Many people do not have adequate educational qualifications and relevant skills, unemployment is very high and large numbers live in poverty. In order to contribute to breaking the cycle of disadvantage, there is a need to ensure that all children receive a quality education from a very early age. Impoverished families are generally unable to provide adequate resources at home for their children to achieve school readiness. Poverty, combined with parents’ low level of education, contributes to learner underachievement. An investment in Early Childhood Development (ECD), particularly among the disadvantaged, can contribute to improved physical and cognitive development, a solid foundation for schooling, better throughput rates and improved health. However, the challenge to provide a quality ECD still confronts policymakers and educators fifteen years after the transition to a democratic South Africa.

    Although the provision and implementation of ECD differs across the nine provinces, the Western Cape has been selected as a suitable example in this discussion. A closer look at the education profile in the Western Cape, the second wealthiest province in South Africa, provides a bleak picture. According to the Human Capital Strategy (2007:10) developed by the provincial Department of Education, only 23.4% of the population of learners in the Western Cape complete Grade 12. Over a third (36.5%) drop out during the secondary school phase; a small proportion complete primary education (7.9%). Fifteen per cent (15.2%) of the latter figure drop out during the primary phase. Five (5.7%) of the total learner population have no schooling at all. Enrolment and completion of schooling by the age of 17 years is highest amongst white learners (100%); the enrolment and completion rate is lower amongst the African population; and lowest amongst coloured learners. For those learners currently at school, only 37% of learners at Grade 3 level achieve grade-appropriate literacy and numeracy levels. At Grade 6 level, numeracy performance drops to 15%, and literacy performance to 35%. These statistics are alarming if we consider that the education sector receives 38.1% of the total provincial budget (Human Capital Development Strategy 2007:10).

    Against the backdrop of the apartheid legacy, it is evident that the most disadvantaged learners are black and thus experience the least success in the education system. Yet, after fifteen years of funding education on a pro-poor basis with the emphasis on equity, it seems very little has been achieved. According to the OECD (2008:53) three international learning assessments of the outcomes of South African schooling: the Monitoring Learning Achievement (MLA) project conducted in 1999, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) conducted in 1995, 1999 and 2003 and the Southern Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SAQMEC) completed in 1991 confirm that South Africans are performing poorly and the education system is not delivering quality education. The high dropout rate and the low pass rates in literacy and numeracy suggest that much still has to be done. A guiding principle of the National Curriculum Statement for South African schools is social justice. (DOE:2002) Both literacy and numeracy are social justice issues, as a lack of literacy and numeracy excludes one from mainstream economic and social life (Bearne & Marsh 2007). Teaching young children literacy and numeracy through ECD establishes a sound base for learning and is an important strategy to reach the goal of social justice.
    Learning area statements in the Revised NCS reflect the principles and practices of social justice, and respect for the environment and human rights, as defined in the Constitution. In particular, the curriculum attempts to be sensitive to issues of poverty, inequality, race, gender, age, disability and such challenges as HIV/AIDS. (DOE: 2002) Therefore it is important within the South African context to take the issue of social justice seriously. If learners do not reach the grade norms in the early years, particularly in reading, it is most likely that they will be part of the attrition and failure rate. This means that they are unlikely to find good jobs and live a decent life.

    However, the decision to focus on ECD is a complex one. Policymakers debate as to where to invest to bring about quality education. ECD, the further education and training phase, teacher education and maths and science instruction all compete for attention. One could, for example, argue that South Africa experiences a shortage of engineers and science and maths graduates and that this is where the emphasis should be placed. Too few learners leave school with the skills that the economy requires, and there is immense pressure on the system to create a more effective secondary schooling system. On the other hand, the Foundation Phase experiences low literacy and numeracy levels with many learners reaching secondary school without the requisite reading skills and numeracy skills. In short, the entire system experiences pressure. This chapter makes a case for investment into ECD in order to create a solid Foundation Phase and therefore increase the throughput rate. Creating the enabling conditions for learners lies with sound Early Childhood Education.

    9.2 The importance of ECD
    The seminal policy document at present regarding ECD in South Africa is the Education White Paper 5 (DoE 2001). According to the Education White Paper 5 (Doe 2001:1), ECD is defined as a comprehensive approach to policies and programmes for children from birth to nine years of age with the active participation of their parents and caregivers. Its purpose is to protect the child’s rights to develop his or her full cognitive, emotional, social and physical potential. This definition and the purpose statement reflect the interest in ECD in education systems worldwide as seen in the policies of international organisations and ministries of education. Over the last decade, investment in ECD has increased as illustrated by large-scale projects such as the World Bank’s loan of over $1.2 billion to various countries for various projects (Arnold 2004). Several studies reveal that an investment in ECD offers outstanding returns, both in human and financial terms. These studies include the following:
    • Grantham-McGregor’s research in Jamaica, which demonstrates that nutritional supplementation combined with intellectual stimulation for stunted children from a poor population brought these children to the level of a normal control group within two years (Arnold 2004:9).
    • The Effective Provision of Pre-school Education Project is the first large-scale longitudinal study in the United Kingdom to provide detailed evidence of the effects of pre-school education on children’s social and intellectual development at the start of school. It indicates that learning experiences at home combined with a good-quality ECD education provide a boost to the development of all children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds (Arnold 2004:9).
    • Bartlett et al. (2003) demonstrate dramatic gains for dalit (untouchable) children in Nepal who are socially ostracised in spite of legislation to outlaw discrimination on the basis of caste. In a district with some of the worst education indicators in the country and where the District Education Office estimates only 30% of dalit children are in school, more than 95% of the dalit children who have undergone an ECD programme enter primary school. Their dropout and repetition rates are also extremely low.
    • Myer’s (1995) study points out that in both India and Guatemala, both developing countries, girls who participate in ECD programmes are much more likely to join school at the appropriate age.

    Thus, international evidence indicates that ECD programmes make a significant difference, particularly in the case of the disadvantaged. Arnold (2004:11) argues that, beside the positive impact of the programmes, well-targeted, high-quality programmes yield very high economic returns. The well-known High-Scope Perry Preschool Study in the United States, a longitudinal study of children from low-income families who participated in pre-school programmes, included a benefit-to-cost analysis that found a return on investment of $7 to $1. This means that for every dollar spent there were seven dollars savings to society. Moreover, given a healthy start and a solid cognitive foundation in the first months and years of their lives, children are less likely to suffer from illness, repeat grades, drop out or require remedial services. A study of poor Brazilian children has also demonstrated the cost return of early childhood development. Poor girls who had attended pre-school were twice as likely to reach Grade 4 and three times as likely to reach Grade 8 as girls who did not. In the case of poor boys, this cost return increased significantly. Boys were three times more likely to reach Grade 4, while forty per cent of poor boys who attended pre-schools finished primary school, compared to two per cent of boys who had not been involved in early educational programmes (DoE 2001:14).

    Similarly, the White Paper 5 argues that ECD intervention is particularly relevant in South Africa where approximately 40% of young children grow up in conditions of abject poverty and neglect. Children raised in poor families are most at risk of infant death, low birth-weight, stunted growth, and poor adjustment to school, increased repetition and school dropout. This makes it imperative for the Department of Education to implement an action plan to address the early learning opportunities of all learners, particularly those living in poverty. Timely and appropriate interventions can reverse the effects of early deprivation and maximise the development of human potential. The cycle of poverty can be addressed by increasing access to ECD programmes, particularly for poor children, and by improving the quality of these programmes (Doe 2001:18). In particular, effective ECD can contribute to the improvement of literacy and numeracy rates and reduce the number of underachievers in the system (Human Capital Development Strategy 2007). ECD is viewed as a panacea to poor performance in South African schools (Doe 2001:14).

    9.2.1 The role of the family and ECD
    This discussion highlights the importance of families in early literacy development. Parents and other significant adults support children’s language learning through conversation, encouraging imaginative play, and by reading stories, singing nursery rhymes and buying books. They support their children’s learning by talking about how they are doing at school, encouraging them to join the library and entertaining high aspirations for children to proceed to higher education. When this crucial home literacy support is not there, children start school at a disadvantage and it is more difficult for children to catch up. Those with poor literacy are more likely to be unskilled, in and out of work and vulnerable to structural changes in the workplace (Bird 2007:9).

    The socio-economic conditions in families determine to a large extent the quality of learning environment at home. Statistics that focus on the Western Cape illustrate this point. According to the Provincial Economic Review and Outlook research in (2007:5), 25.5% of people in the Western Cape are unemployed. A further analysis of the data indicates the following:
    • Between the ages of 15 and 24, 49.1% are unemployed.
    • Between the ages of 25 and 34, 23.7% are unemployed.
    • Between the ages of 35 and 44, 18.1% are unemployed.
    • Between the ages of 45 and 54, 13.1% are unemployed.

    Thus, a large percentage of younger parents who are likely to have young children are unemployed. These homes have limited educational resources and lack a print culture, and early literacy is minimal. This implies few books, little interest in school work and a lack of a reading and oral language culture.

    Another alarming characteristic of the socio-economic portrait relates to education levels. There is a link between education levels of parents and learners’ performance. According to the PERO (2007), in the Western Cape:
    • 1.5% of people have no education at all
    • 24.2% have education at Grades 0-8 level
    • 22.7% have education at Grades 9 to 11, NTC 1 and 11 level
    • 11% have diploma or certificates
    • 6.8% have degrees.

    Fleisch (2008:60) indicates that one of the single strongest predictions of under-achievement is parents’ education attainment. According to Fleisch, studies consistently find strong positive associations between the duration of school careers and children’s success of schools.

    Stannard and Huxford (2007) found in the British National Literacy Strategy that most children who fail at school came from poor homes with a poor learning environment from the early years onward. Stanndard and Huxford (2007) find that the majority of children in the UK who underachieve do so due to their prior experience at home; they appear less active, reluctant to learn and fail to benefit from school. Failing children in the classrooms use different strategies for bringing the world under control. They learn that school is often unpredictable and brings risk of failure. Their lives are less certain and more insecure, so they opt for strategies that keep them out of trouble. Stanndard and Huxford (2007) further find that these children found it more predictable and thus safer to fail than to attempt to succeed. These children tend to say ‘Yes’ when the teacher asks: ‘Do you understand?’; they wave their hands when the teacher asks the class a question because they guess they are less likely to be asked; if they are asked, they repeat the question and hesitate until the teacher, impatient to see them succeed, gives them sufficient clues or tells them the answer; they will choose to wait in a queue at the teacher’s desk for help with spelling to avoid facing the challenge of the task, and so on. These children are not passive but they have put a different construction on schools and learning – one that frequently manifests itself noticeably and early in failure to learn reading and writing.

    9.3 The ECD policy framework
    The White Paper 5 (DoE 2001) argues that South Africa’s position in the global economy depends on the competencies of its people; these competencies are developed and established early in life. Human development thus begins well before a child enters school. Thus, the White Paper 5 (DoE 2001: 10) acknowledges the vital importance of investment in early childhood development before the age of three years and the continuity of early childhood development until the age of nine. To achieve this, the White Paper recommends the implementation of a Reception Year (Grade R) for five–year-olds. In this regard, the medium-term policy goal is progressively to realise the constitutional obligation to provide all learners with ten years of compulsory school education, including one year of early childhood development (i.e. the Reception Year). The policy target is that by 2010 all learners that enter Grade 1 should have participated in an accredited Reception Year programme and that the Department of Education shall have created an ECD system of provision that is 75 % subsidised rather than the current estimated 25 % subsidisation. While the White Paper 5 definition includes nought- to nine-year-olds, the education department only caters for five-year-olds at ECD level. The Department of Social Development caters for nought- to four-year-olds. The main ECD policy priority addressed in White Paper 5 is the establishment of a national system of provision of the Reception Year for children aged five years that combines a large public and smaller independent component. This is regarded as the main goal of White Paper.

    In respect of ECD of children in the age range six years to nine years, the policy goals and programmes were first outlined in government’s five year plan (Tirisano 1999–2004), and its annual supplementary work programmes. These policies and programmes focused on improving the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning and the functioning of primary schools as they serve these children in Grades 1, 2, 3 and 4 (DoE 2001:16). Most recently, the following policy document was issued in July 2009 by the Minister in the Presidency: Together doing more and better: Medium term strategic framework ( The main points of this strategic plan which pertain to ECD are summarised as follows. There should be increased participation in and improved quality of early childhood development services, with universal access to Grade R and that the number of nought- to four-year-old ECD learners should be doubled by 2014. To achieve this, the government should:
    • Ensure that the institutional framework governing and facilitating the delivery of ECD services is improved and monitoring systems are introduced by establishing an improved system of registering and monitoring ECD centres; establishing norms and standards relating to early childhood education; providing guidelines in all official languages for caregivers on the management of centres and providing curriculum support.
    • Strengthen adult learning opportunities, encourage cooperation and collaboration between ECD and ABET centres, parent support and development programmes, health and social services.
    • Provide flexible training programmes for ECD teachers – including but not limited to distance learning options for teacher education.
    • Introduce the professional registration requirements for all the teachers in teacher-led ECD services.
    • Provide scholarships and other support to attract people into ECD teacher education.

    9.3.1 Current ECD provision
    The issue of ECD enjoyed much attention in the post 1994 period with a response from the new government regarding the challenges facing ECD. According to White Paper 5 (DOE: 10), the medium term policy goal was to progressively realise the constitutional obligation to provide all learners with ten years of compulsory school education, including one year of early childhood development called the Reception Year. Accompanying the audit in ECD and the release of Education White Paper 5, the Ministry also launched Education White Paper 6 on Special Needs Education: Building and Inclusive Education and Training System. White Paper 6 emphasised the importance of ECD and viewed early detection of barriers to learning in learners as critical. The White Paper on Special Needs and Inclusive Education suggested that early identification of at risk learners was crucial for mainstreaming and inclusion.

    2001 was a critical year for the development of ECD. The new government conducted an audit of all ECD provision in South Africa. The nationwide audit of ECD provisioning offered a baseline against which to monitor progress. The survey identified 23 482 sites, only 61% of them were registered. Seventeen per cent were school based, 49% community based and 34% home based. Most 64% had been providing ECD services for more than five years, although there had been substantial growth in both the school and home based sites in the previous two years (OECD 2008: 218).

    Regarding current provision, the public component of ECD is envisaged to include ECD classes accommodated in primary schools. In the case of classes in primary schools, individual schools are encouraged to apply for the establishment of the class. The provincial department of education makes the final decision regarding the establishment of a class. Normally, there is a subsidy for the teacher and learning support materials. 70% of the amount is used for teacher salaries and 30% for learning and teacher support material (Sheperd 2008).

    A considerable contribution to ECD is, however, made by independent schools. The independent component refers to community based sites. In the case of community based sites, communities, frequently assisted by non-government organisations, can apply for a state subsidy for ECD provision. Community based ECD classes do not necessarily have to be located in primary schools. At both public and independent schools teachers are paid by the provincial government and subsidies for community sites and classes in primary schools do not differ (Sheperd 2008). Thus, the policy creates an opportunity for both civil society and the non-governmental sector to play a role in ECD service delivery.

    The requirements for teachers to teach ECD are NQF level 4, which is equivalent to Grade 12. Teachers must undergo ECD training at a Further Education and Training College or any training institution that offers ECD training. This means that the majority of teachers in ECD classrooms do not have a formal post-matric teaching qualification or a post graduate teaching degree. Therefore, the term ECD practitioner is used. (Sheperd 2008:3). According to the OECD report (2008:221) a new set of Level 4 unit standards for ECD practitioners training were registered in 2006, leading to a Further Education and Training Certificate described as an entry level qualification for those who want to ender the field of Early Childhood Education. The certificate has optional pathways for those who wish to specialise in Grade R and those who wish to focus on management of an ECD service and a further option for those who wish to specialise in inclusive education in an ECD context. The major challenge regarding career pathways relates to the fact that no service providers are currently registered to deliver on this qualification. The service providers are either providing Basic Level 1 or Higher Certificate at level 5. (OECD 2008:221).

    9.3.2 Critique of ECD provision
    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which, among others, functions as an international think tank that provides a setting where governments compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and coordinate domestic and international policies, has also addressed the policy and provision of ECD in South Africa. The OECD study (2008: 218) of ECD provision in South Africa found that the implementation of Education White Paper 5 was contrary to its intention and goals in certain aspects. Relevant findings include the following:
    • Significant variances in provincial data regarding the number of community-based sites. For example, the Eastern Cape had 56% of sites and Gauteng 24%. In the Eastern Cape some sites had no piped water, poor electricity and no flushing toilets. Learner/teacher ratios also varied; in the Eastern Cape the ratio was 24:1 and Gauteng had a ratio of 16:1. Thus, there is no uniformity across the provinces for such a vital and important service. There were also major differences in teacher profiles across provinces as illustrated by the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, with variances in the numbers of teachers who were trained, those under-qualified and those qualified.
    • The most critical limitation identified lay in the area of practitioner development. The OECD (2008) study found that practitioner development and career paths appear to be plagued by ongoing confusion. The study concluded that the professionalisation and recognition of ECD practitioners and teachers is still one of the Department of Education’s major challenges as there is no clear legislation that supports the inclusion of the current cohort of ECD practitioners as educators.
    • Further, the OCED study (2008:55) mentions that, although a very large number of children have access to basic education in South Africa, a significant proportion of these learners do not achieve at a level sufficient to acquire basic skills necessary for the next phase of schooling. Meaningful access to education, then, as opposed to mere physical access, remains elusive for the majority. ECD can go a long way to increase the success of children in basic education.
    • With particular reference to the Western Cape, the abolition of departmentally approved and remunerated posts saw the demise of traditional programmes for kindergarten teacher education. Educare programmes of FET Colleges are not fully recognised as educator/teacher qualifications for salary purposes, although the South African Council of Educators (SACE) has granted provisional registration to persons with Level 5 certificates. All properly qualified kindergarten/pre-primary teachers are taken up by ECD institutions within communities able to afford to pay competitive and appropriate salaries by charging high fees. This tends to widen the gap between the advantaged and the disadvantage. Moreover, ECD is plagued by insufficient classrooms in public schools and the frequent reluctance of principals to establish Grade R classes (Sheperd 2008:5). The lack of post provisioning and the per capita subsidy system results in a financial burden upon schools. Higher school fees have to be demanded or the higher grades have to subsidise Grade R children here is the reference (Shepherd 2008:1).

    In summary, the intervention strategies of White Paper 5 have not been fully implemented and have had little impact on literacy and numeracy results. Although provisioning for ECD has increased, the quality of provision, levels of teacher education remain a serious concern.

    9.4 The way forward
    This chapter has already illustrated the consequences of poverty for education and the future of a nation. In the endeavour to ensure national prosperity, the provision of quality ECD for all is critical. In the light of this, the following recommendations are made to improve ECD provision in South Africa:

    9.4.1 Teacher training
    A further challenge to ECD provision relates to quality teacher education. Taking the cue from the British Literacy and Numeracy Strategy discussed in the OFSTED Report, Stannard and Huxford (2007:6) confirm the importance of well-trained ECD teachers. The British intervention in ECD teacher training involved – classroom by classroom across a primary school system (including learners from five to seven years in the Foundation State) with 19 000 schools – almost 200 000 teachers and over three million children. The key was system-wide professional development for all teachers and a reciprocal commitment of self-improvement from the profession. In South Africa, ECD practitioners have the equivalent of matric or a lower qualification. Poorly qualified ECD practitioners, many without matric, are employed in the poorest schools. They lack pedagogy suitable for poor environments and lack intellectual tools to understand the relationship between poverty and education. Many have not been socialised into an intellectual culture. Therefore, they may not regard reading as important. They may not understand the implications of a print environment for teaching and learning. Teachers in ECD classrooms in South Africa should have skills that enable them to understand the context they are teaching in, understand the learner in relation to the context, be creative, reflexive and imaginative, and generate problem-solving strategies.

    This issue has to be addressed in the short, medium and lon -term (Schiefelbein 2008:10). Thus, Morrow (2008) argues that making a significant difference to the quality of schooling for the whole population requires innovative thinking. He cautions that ECD, much as it might contribute to educational improvement in the long term, is not something we can establish for the whole population at this stage; instead a short-, medium- and long-term strategy is required for teacher upgrading. Teacher education for ECD must be a post-matric qualification, which is normally a four-year degree or diploma. While this does not have to take place for all ECD teachers at the same time, a staggered approach can be used. In this way children in the Foundation Phase will at least have been exposed to a well-qualified teacher, and this could lay a solid foundation for future schooling of the child. Furthermore, to address this problem, the following strategy is suggested: Schools are classified according to quintiles to implement a pro-poor policy of redress (schools in quintile 1 are the poorest; schools in quintile 5 are the richest). In the short term, ECD practitioners in the first and second quintile should receive training followed by schools in the other quintiles in the medium and long term. In this way, the need for well-trained teachers in the poorest ECD schools and classes in South Africa can be addressed. In-service teacher training should also be addressed. In-service activity tends to be random and haphazard. Teacher education offered at universities should embrace frameworks for teaching that include the range and progression of both literacy and numeracy learning. ECD teachers must be clear as to what learners need to know, understand and be able to do to become confident and proficient readers and numerate learners. An agreed and common repertoire of generic teaching methodologies will be necessary, and sufficient attention must be paid to the development of a theoretical basis for literacy and numeracy.

    Thus, quality ECD teacher education should be actively promoted. At present, courses in ECD at FET college level are not viewed highly by many prospective students, who are looking not only for stimulation but also a reasonably well-paid job. ECD practitioner training and a career in ECD do not appear to offer them much. Matriculants with good results should be given incentives to enter the ECD field.

    9.4.2 Advocacy for ECD
    Advocacy is very important in the achieving success of any programme or project. In the case of ECD, education administrators should be made aware of the value of ECD for children, parents and society. Parents should be made aware of the importance of reading and creating and intellectual environment for children. One of the challenges many people face in the education system is that they view their function as a job or something relating to compliance. Each individual involved, irrespective of their function, should realise the consequences of their decisions and execution of their duties for the child. Given the state of ECD, it is a responsibility of all of society that advocacy is done in a way that it impacts on every pre-school in the country.

    9.4.3 Inclusion of pre-schools in primary schools
    The practice of community-based sites presents many challenges in terms of monitoring, maintenance and creating a culture of learning and teaching. Primary schools must take ownership of ECD. On the lines of the English Strategy (cf. Stannaford & Huxford, 2007:151), the following are recommended:
    • Empower primary schools to take control of their curriculum, and to be more innovative and to develop their own character. (This is difficult for community-based sites.)
    • Encourage teachers to attend workshops and seminars relating to the link between poverty and reading and writing.
    • Encourage schools to network together and learn from others in sharing and developing good practice.
    • Form partnerships with parents, which is vital in helping children to do as well as they can, and in making wider links with the community.
    • Government should increasingly act as an enabler, with schools increasingly in control of the support they get, to:
    – strengthen leadership, particularly leadership in teaching, and professional development to help teachers embed the principles of effective teaching and learning both in literacy and numeracy and across the curriculum
    – help schools design broad and rich curricula which make the most of links between areas and provide opportunities for children to have a wide range of learning experiences.

    9.4.4 Create a reading and print culture in ECD classrooms
    Schiefelbein (2008:1) indicates that if the problem of poor literacy is not addressed by the age of eight, the problem will persist in future. In South Africa many children do not learn to read adequately by the age of eight and they swell the numbers of eventual school dropouts. Schiefelbein (2008:1) stresses that literacy gaps open up early in life. Moreover, such gaps stay constant after the age of eight (Heckman 2008). In particular, special attention must be paid to vocabulary gaps because they constrain language development required for learning to read. Children enrolling at a school with poor vocabulary or low cognitive levels ‘fail to make satisfactory progress in reading’ unless special remedial efforts are made in time to help them (Hart & Risley 1995). Most developing countries are providing near universal access to primary education. The Education for All international commitment has been effective in increasing coverage, but remedial efforts have been ineffective for delivering acceptable learning levels. Large numbers of school-age children still have significant difficulties in learning to read. Failure to learn to read adequately for continued school success is much more likely among poor, rural, and non-native speakers of the language of instruction. Reading is the centrepiece of early-grade instruction, and few students can succeed in maths, science or other types of knowledge when they have only a poor or basic reading level. Thus it is important for early quality interventions in the ECD phase to ensure all South Africa’s children obtain the basic literacy skills to ensure success in the Foundation Phase. International studies suggest that both an investment in pre-school education and employing good teachers can also provide an answer to the literacy and numeracy challenge in South Africa. Riggs, Garrey, Carruthers and Thorstensen (2008) indicate that investment in pre-school education yields high returns. For example, children who received quality pre-school education in the Head Start programme in the US experienced better school achievement, educational placement, educational attainment and employment. Tennessee, Sander and Rivers (1996) also demonstrate the effect of ECD by tracking student achievement over three years.

    Since many children from poor homes are not read to, do not have a print culture at home and are not encouraged to read, they do not read very well. Research suggests that children of lower-income or poor households come to school with half the vocabulary of middle-income children (Schiefelbein 2008). Therefore, it is important that print-rich classrooms are created. Children must realise that print has a message. Schiefelbein (2008) also found that reading for pleasure to children can compensate for poverty. Therefore reading must be made the centrepiece of every ECD classroom and reading taught to indigent children across the country.

    Teachers should be skilled in the latest theories that inform them how to teach reading. Much work has been done locally and internationally regarding teacher development, but it has not reached ECD classrooms because of the practitioner status or the caregiver status of the educator. Schools and the state must compensate for poverty by providing learning support materials that children can relate to but also use an appropriate pedagogy. Fleisch (2008:65) cites a study at an educare centre in South Africa where parents pay R50 a month for their children’s education. In this study, researchers found three types of activity that the children aged four to seven engage in: teacher led instruction characterised by collective rote and chant learning, supervised by play-time where children are left to play with one another in the small playground, and eating and drinking time. The explicit instructional time is consumed with chant-learning and recitation. The teachers have taught the children collectively and individually to recite songs, rhymes, prayers, psalms and poems in isiXhosa and English. The researchers note that the teacher made no attempt to explain the meaning of the specific words or show the letters in other words or contexts. According to the researchers, the children displayed considerable enthusiasm, with young children following the lead of their older companions. Because the primary function of the task was recitation, no effort was made to translate the words or try to find some appropriate examples.

    9.4.5 Collaboration across government departments and other recommendations
    ECD is a complex field and spans health, nutrition, education and social development. Therefore, it is important that adequate steps are taken to ensure that this collaboration is put into place with clear strategic plans. South Africa can learn from a number of countries in this regard. New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom have developed sound plans. The Head Start programme and the Home Start programmes in the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively, are good examples of creating useful opportunities for young children.

    After the OECD (2008), several recommendations were made. These include:
    • Additional investment in ECD should focus on support for parents as early educators, through multi-media, multi-lingual programmes
    • All teachers of the Grade R programmes, whether the programmes are run in ECD centres or schools, should have access to the same professional development and curriculum support materials
    • Improve the accuracy of statistics regarding adult literacy levels and outcomes of programmes to enable policy design to target where the greatest needs lie
    • Prioritise investment in the development of programme support materials and assessment tools for the mass adult literacy programme to ensure those involved are able to deliver it appropriately
    • Plan for a longer term strategy to use the skills and knowledge of volunteers on the mass literacy programme in further upskilling the general population
    • Clarify the roles and responsibilities of national ministries responsible for ECD.

    9.4 Conclusion
    It is evident from the South African experience that ECD is not a well-targeted programme. The lack of emphasis on sound teacher qualifications and the findings of the OECD that there is inconsistency between plans, goals and implementation suggest that ECD is not a priority. Despite the emphasis on ECD in White Paper 5, the practice suggests that not enough is being done. Only a concerted effort on the part of government and a commitment to quality can make a difference to the South African education system. Solutions to the low numeracy and literacy, as well as throughput rates, will not emerge in the South Africa education system unless we are brutally honest about the state of education and if there is the political will to address the problem. ECD seems to be a good option based on international evidence. South Africa’s future education system and the stability of society are at stake.

    Arnold C 2004. Positioning ECCD in the 21st century in co-ordinators notebook: An international resource for early childhood development. Network Notes Paper 28 of 2004.
    Bearne E & Marsh J 2007. Closing the gap in literacy and social inclusion. Staffordshire: Trentham Books.
    Bird V 2007. Literacy and social inclusion: The policy context in literacy and social inclusion. London: National Literacy Trust.
    Department of Education 2001. Education White Paper 5. Pretoria: Department of Education.
    Department of Education 2002. Revised National Curriculum Statement: Grades R–9. Pretoria: Department of Education.
    Department of Education 2001. White Paper 6 on Special Needs Education: Building an inclusive education and training system: Pretoria: Department of Education
    Fleisch B 2008. Primary education in crisis. Cape Town: Juta.
    Western Cape Education Department 2007. Human capital development strategy. Unpublished Research Report. Cape Town: Edumedia.
    Morrow W 2008.Teacher education in a developing country. Unpublished research report.
    Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2008. Review of National Policies for Education. Johannesburg: OECD.
    Riggs JP, Garrey E, Carruthers GE & Thorstensen BI 2008. Presentation at New Mexico Roundtable on Investment in Education, October 2008.
    Schiefelbein 2008. Effective strategies for teaching reading. Paper presented at Conference on Foundations for Learning in Limpopo Province, October 2008.
    Shepherd D 2008. Paper presented to the Western Cape Education Department. Unpublished case study on ECD in the Western Cape.
    Stannard J & Huxford L 2007. The literacy game: The story of the National Literacy Strategy.
    Western Cape Provincial Government. 2008. Provincial economic review and outlook. Cape Town.

  25. Thank you for the opportunity to share in the conversation regarding the 2013 GMR.

    I have recently completed my doctoral dissertation, an ethnography on higher education in Benin, West Africa. Some of my findings are relevant to the upcoming report.

    The participants in my study were born right when EFA was launched in 1990, and so their entire academic careers have been influenced by the sensibilisations and awareness campaigns that stressed what education could do for them, their families, and their countries. Unfortunately, because classrooms (and even at the university level) are overcrowded and teachers are not qualified a majority of the students from poorer families (who were unable to afford tutors) struggled.

    Female students in particular face sexual harassment from teachers and professors, and explained that they use certain strategies so that they could avoid being noticed by professors. These strategies include sitting in the back of classrooms or lecture halls, not speaking up in class, and giving less than their best effort on papers and exams. Teachers need to be held accountable for their practices, or the efforts of EFA and UNESCO will be greatly mitigated.

    In addition, students compared their education to that received by students in the developed world – and found that their years in school did not result in the same practical knowledge and skills that are necessary to obtain meaningful work. Approximately 25% of university graduates in Benin are unemployed for three years after graduation. Students nearing graduation expressed fear of family shame if they were unable to find a job and also noted that they felt high unemployment among graduates would lead to younger children being taken out of school.

    Benin is an interesting case because the country went from having one of the lowest rates of primary school enrollment (around 30%) in Sub-Saharan Africa, to over 100% gross enrollment in 2010. The extremely high gross numbers reveal a need for quality education and prepared teachers so that fewer students repeat grades.

    Thank you for your efforts. Please feel free to contact me if you would like any other information. I have case studies that may be of interest.


    Marcy Hessling O’Neil

  26. Teaching and learning for development needs to recognize that all children learn differently (linking this to equity and diversity/non-discrimination in the UNCRC) and that in many countries there are protection issues (violence, abuse, exploitation, corporal punishment) in and around school that seriously affect learning outcomes.

    Though teaching is generally a group activity, learning is very individual. Sometimes it is difficult for teachers to realise that all students are different and learn differently. As teachers plan for their teaching-learning activities, they need to keep this in mind. Good teachers are sensitive to such differences and take actions to accommodate them so that, ideally, each child is provided an optimal learning experience.

    The emphasis must be on success, rather than on failings and shortcomings. To make this possible, a learning environment needs to be created in which all children feel safe and understood, and where they can reach their potential.

    Quality teachers know that behaviour problems are far less common in classrooms where children are actively involved and interested, and in which they are appreciated for who they are, where they come from and what they are able to contribute. Effective teachers have also learned that they need to know their students’ background to be able to understand non-academic factors that may impact behaviour, participation and learning.

    As children do not learn at the same pace or in the same way, schools must accommodate this reality and consider the extent to which education policies and practices lead to the labeling of children such as ‘slow learners’ or to promoting the view that learning abilities are limited or fixed. Also, the relevance of the syllabus and the language medium of instruction are factors that children respond to through certain behaviours. Educating the whole child – academically, socially and emotionally – is an important goal of education in itself and teachers play their role in this process by taking into account and responding to individual learning differences in every classroom.

    To be able to manage students that face difficulties in participation, learning or behaviour requires insight into where these difficulties may come from and why and when they arise. A teacher has to care for many different students, including those from poor, disadvantaged families, students who may have to work before or after school, children from different ethnic, religious or language minority groups and those with a variety of learning difficulties or disabilities. Children may come to school hungry or tired, or they may not have been able to do homework because of lack of electricity or parents who are not able to help them with their school assignments. It is important for a teacher to know a child’s socio-economic and family background to be able to understand these non-academic or social factors that influence learning and behaviour. These factors cannot directly be altered, but understanding them will enable a teacher to place a student’s “learning failure” or “misbehaviour” in perspective and create learning environments that reduce rather than increase the effects of such. Children may be at risk of negative and meaningless school experiences if a teacher does not understand the whole child and his/her background, and is not ready with responsive, effective instruction and classroom strategies.

    When seeking explanations for lack of achievement or for behaviour problems, a teacher needs to be prepared to consider inadequacies in the learning content, process and environment rather than inadequacies in the child. He needs to reflect on what he teaches and how he teaches. What does he say and do in the classroom to develop understanding? How does he introduce new topics? Does he spend enough time explaining purpose and relationship to previously taught information and skills to enhance on-going meaningful learning?
    A teacher must however not only look at social backgrounds, but also at what happens inside the classroom. How students behave is often a reaction to factors within the school. A teacher needs to reflect on the learning environment he has created and whether this engages all children actively and meaningfully. Do teachers involve all students – also those at the back of the classroom? How do teachers ask questions? It is important for a teacher to investigate how his style of teaching can affect progress and behaviour of different students. Teachers plan and organizes the environment of the classroom, determine the detailed curriculum to be presented to the students, as well as its sequence and pacing, the overall structure of the lesson (how much and what kinds of student listening and activities), the feedback mechanisms to know how each child is ‘getting on’ and the correctives to be taken. Timing, pacing and sequencing of different teaching-learning interactions is an essential part of classroom management and many behaviour problems can be avoided by improved management of the classroom environment and activities.

    Apart from imparting knowledge and skills, teachers also help children to define their self image. From daily interactions with teachers, children learn whether they are considered important or insignificant, bright or slow, liked or disliked. Teachers transmit these messages by the way they speak to children, their facial expressions and gestures, and by the amount of time they devote to each individual learner. Often teachers point out students’ deficiencies more than praising them for their efforts and noting improvements, however small. For many children this is very discouraging, and may result in feelings of inferiority and failure. From the messages that students receive, they decide whether they are willing to risk participation in classroom activities or not. Effective teachers recognize that such involvement does not always come easily – it requires a trusting, psychologically comfortable learning environment.

    A quality which is essential to a psychological comfortable classroom environment is mutual respect. Too often, discussions related to respect focus mainly on the necessity of students respecting teachers. However, teachers and students must respect each other and respect has to be earned by both and this happens through the way teachers and children interact. Students may have negative classroom experiences because they are ridiculed by teacher or peers, or they repeatedly hear that they are disruptive or slow or “stupid”. These and other negative messages telling children that they are not valued or respected, often result in children giving up on classroom participation.

    Research on teacher-student interaction shows that teachers often behave differently towards individual students based on their own perception of what a student can of cannot do. Students labeled as “low-achievers” get less opportunities to participate, and those seen as “disruptive” are perceived to be behaving badly, even when behaving well.

    Teaching and learning for development would acknowledge that teachers can learn from students. To be successful a teacher must attend to what students do, what they say and how they perform. He should observe children’s reactions in class to find out whether he is ‘getting across’ to them. Thus, teaching is not a matter of reading from a textbook, or dictating notes, but a participatory process. Teachers rely on a variety of ‘signals’ from their students. For example ‘eyes on’ behaviour means students are paying attention. Squirming behaviour means they are tired or bored. Affirmative nods of the head mean they follow and understand; puzzled looks mean they are confused.

    The major decision that teachers make on the basis of their observations of children is when it is appropriate to move on to the next topic, problem or issue. Some teachers though are ‘clock or calendar watchers’ more then ‘student watchers’ and feel compelled to cover a certain amount of material within a certain time. Teachers need to reflect on their assumptions and expectations by asking children for feedback on the teaching-learning process and on what happens in the classroom in general.

    It is important for teachers to understand what makes a good teacher in the eyes of his students. Such characteristics of quality teachers almost always have to do with a teacher’s ability to relate to students as individuals in a constructive way, treating them with respect, making lessons interesting and varied, providing encouragement and telling them to believe in themselves and their own abilities.
    For teachers who care, the student as a person is as important as the student as a learner. Caring teachers know their students in both ways. Such teachers model understanding and fairness. These are qualities most often mentioned by students in their assessments of good teachers

    Motivation to learn and to behave well is largely contingent on interest. If a teacher’s teaching can harness the curiosity of children, he can also elicit a willingness of students to learn and behave. Interest-satisfying teaching motivates children far more effectively than coercing them into tasks they consider irrelevant and boring.

    Teachers tend to focus on what to do when children misbehave and therefore often perceive discipline techniques as something separate from teaching, only to be employed if and when problems arise. However, classroom management is an integral part of effective teaching, as it helps to prevent behaviour problems through improved planning, organizing and managing of classroom activities, better presentation of instructional material and better teacher-student interaction, aiming at maximizing students’ involvement and cooperation in learning. Equally important is the modelling and promotion of good behaviour. Disciplinary or behaviour control techniques are in the end less effective as they do not promote the development of a self-concept or a degree of responsibility and autonomy. Students do not become self-disciplined by means of rewarding, controlling or coercion. Values and social skills have to be taught and modeled by teachers. Learning to become responsible human beings and make responsible choices requires practice, including making mistakes to learn from without punitive consequences. That is what quality teaching and classroom management is about. And that, rather than just delivering a curriculum, is the purpose of education!

  27. Posted on behalf of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC:

    General comments GMR 2013

    – We welcome the multisector approach and the link between education and development. At the same time, we think that the topics chosen are quite ambitious and might contain a risk of dispersion/distraction.

    – We emphasis the importance of the holistic vision of education. The GMR 2013 should include best practices, findings, recommendations, etc. not only from the formal sector, but also from the non-formal sector. Many good and effective initiatives have been developed in the non-formal sector when it comes to quality education, teacher training, curricula, etc. These experiences have a great potential of scaling-up also in the formal sector and should therefore be highlighted in the report.

    – How does the report associate teachers’ associations/trade union? What is their role in the preparation stage of the report and what are the messages the GMR wants to give them?

    – Gender issues should be highlighted.

    – Decentralization is a very important aspect in teacher training, deployment and management. This aspect should be highlighted and analyzed in the report.

    – Learning assessment should be based on a broad vision of learning. They should measure not only literacy and numeracy skills, but other basic skills as well. Strengthening national learning assessment systems is for us an important challenge. Indeed, there is a risk that learning might be measured only through international and/or regional assessment systems that might not always mirror countries’ priorities in terms of learning.

    Good practices of SDC and its partner organizations to possibly highlight

    1) Education for development post-2015
    a) Education improves prosperity of individuals, families and societies
    Programmes faisant le lien entre les offres d’éducation de base non formelle et le développement de compétences de base :
    – Dispositif de formation professionnelle dans la région de l’Est du Burkina développé par l’Union des Artisans du Gulmu (UAG) (voir annexe UAG)
    – Programmes de partenaires de la Coopération en Suisse en Afrique (voir Africa Brief : )
    – Partenaires soutenus par la Coopération Suisse au Bangladesh dans l’éducation de base en lien avec le développement de compétences (voir annexe Asia Brief)

    b) Education for all promotes health and nutrition for all
    La Coopération Suisse est en train de faire un état des lieux sur ses programmes de nutrition. Nous pourrions vous fournir des exemples plus tard.

    c) Education’s contribution to social and political outcomes
    – Education au développement durable dans les écoles en Suisse :
    – Lien vers différents initiatives, programmes pour l’éducation au développement durable dans des pays francophones :
    – Exemple d’un programme pilote pour l’éducation des populations nomades au Burkina Faso/Bénin, contribuant à la cohabitation pacifique des populations et d’un programme régional (voir article en annexe)

    2) Teaching and learning for maximum impact (teacher training, deployment and management, innovative curriculum and assessment)
    – Formation des formateurs en Pédagogie du Texte à l’Université de Ouagadougou : et Fiche DEDA (voir annexe)
    – Curricula intégrant des savoirs locaux et adaptés au contexte : Expériences des associations soutenues par la Coopération Suisse (voir en annexe : Africa Brief, Documentation approche Reflect, Approche Tylay par Corade, Approche Hakili La Kunu par l’Association Karmba Touré)
    – Recherche-action sur la mesure des apprentissages des bénéficiaires des programmes d’alphabétisation :

    • I think this input is very useful. However, the issue of decentralization and centralization of policy is a key issue for developing countries. If your literacy and numeracy outcomes are not good enought or ife teacher education is weak, it is important to centralize these policies. A central government initiative that prioritizes the amelioration of weaknesses is critical for success. A centralized policy should use best practice and research to inform how it intends to address critical issues. Sectoral planning in particular districts and or geographical areas is important. However a centralilzed mechanism can guide and compare performance, what works and what does not. We have learnt in the South African context that decentralizing policy too quickly eg literacy and numeracy as well as teacher training did not have the desired effect. Once an action plan was developed for the country and there was strong guidance from the national department there was an immeidate improvement in results. Ultimately in our case strong centralized input, research and guidance is bringing around the turnaround that is required.

  28. In response to the request for examples of programmes that support teachers who have been recruited without receiving professional training, I would like to share an approach that has been successfully tested by World Vision. In rural areas where we have area development programs there is often a deficit of qualified teachers. In these areas we draw on community volunteers, often parents, to work in both formal and non-formal school settings. We have implemented a professionalization program, involving certification, in partnership with the Global University of Lifelong Learning (GULL).

    Working with community input, GULL designs a cascading curriculum of action-learning which certifies community volunteer educators. The trainees track their progress through self-reflection and journal writing, and are also responsible, as they advance through the training, to mentor those at levels below them. At the end they graduate with certificates, diplomas or degrees of achievement and recognition. The professionalization, coaching and recognition are the keys to their motivation, even though the training is far less than government trained teachers, and their compensation is minimal. These community educators are critical links to the children in our projects and can contribute to the overall well-being of children by focusing on building their literacy skills. This approach has been successfully used in Haiti, Mexico and Papua New Guinea.

  29. […] Published:… […]

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