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Even in the most challenging parts of the world, every teacher can be stronger with the right support. One social enterprise is empowering thousands of teachers in Asia and Africa and seeing amazing results. Their head of learning and development shares her view on how it's done and why it's so vital.
Teaching is the most important job in the world. The quality of any nation's education cannot exceed the quality of its educators.
Each teacher has the opportunity to shape and impact tens of thousands of young lives over the course of their career. It is not unusual to hear someone reflect on a favourite teacher from their school days or to ascribe their success in life to the advice or guidance given by a teacher.
THE EDUCATION CRISIS HAS TEACHING SYSTEMS AT ITS ROOT
Yet, in many low and middle income countries teaching is an extremely difficult profession. Once trained, teachers can find themselves teaching in a range of challenging situations; days away from the nearest town; with little or no support or guidance; textbooks that aren’t aligned to the material or the age of the children they are attempting to teach and overcrowded classrooms with children sitting on the floor. Compounding all this is the sad truth that many teachers themselves can often struggle with the content they are teaching; literacy and numeracy can be a challenge. That is why the global Education Commission reports that there are more than 600 million children in school who are not learning the basics.
Against this backdrop governments and multilaterals are focussed on the urgent necessity of improving learning outcomes in their states and countries. UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 -achieving quality education for all by 2030 - underpins many of the other goals and the ability to achieve economic growth and stability. Progress towards this goal will be strongest when government teachers in lower-income countries have been pre-service and in-service training and support.
Ultimately, the quality of education delivered is tied to how well a teacher is set up to succeed in his or her classroom. The status-quo world over is that teachers are often held accountable for outcomes without always being given the support and coaching they need to develop and grow their teaching practice. As the World Bank Group Education report notes: ‘Teacher training in low- and middle-income countries is often short and of low quality.’
THE CHALLENGE IS NOT INSURMOUNTABLE
I believe in investing in teachers, in equipping them with the skills, mindsets and the support they need to lead their classrooms to success. Then, and only then, can she be held accountable for delivering on student learning gains.
Putting in place an ongoing support structure for teachers is vital. Helping them to create child centered classrooms that focus on narrating the positive and fostering child teacher relationships alongside access to grade appropriate and carefully designed content are some of the ways that this can be done. It isn’t reasonable to expect teachers to excel if they are not equipped to do so nor to expect learning outcomes to improve if those doing the teaching have little to no training, support or materials.
NEW CAMPAIGN TO HIGHLIGHT BEST PRACTICES
The #TeachersTransformLives campaign celebrates inspirational teachers who, with ongoing help, work relentlessly to be better teachers for their students every single day. It is shining a light on teachers whose teaching has been transformed through a tripartite programme of: materials, support and development. An approach that is helping teachers transform lives; by improving learning outcomes; excelling in challenging environments and developing the leaders of tomorrow. This campaign is a call to recognize that all teachers can be inspiring and to advocate for the training, support and guidance that will enable them to develop the future generation of leaders. For example, this story of a teacher in Nigeria called Cecilia shows how one woman is having a big impact her students because she is being effectively supported.
Teachers can be successful in leading classrooms if they are equipped with training, coaching and support designed to improve student learning outcomes.The good news here is effective teacher development and growth can be made possible with existing resources and budgets. We know because we've done this several times and at scale. Skilled, motivated teachers are the foundation for improving education systems. Only with an intentional, well-planned investment in teacher development, can the UN Goal of quality education for all by 2030 be achieved.
Collectively, we need to tackle the learning crisis for the 1 in 2 children being failed as they never even learn the basics.
Fundamentally, we need to make sure that every teacher succeeds no matter how remote; isolated or impoverished their school and community. It’s possible; they can succeed with the right support. That’s the main message of the campaign: If we want learning outcomes to improve we must focus on supporting teachers. The teachers celebrated in #TeachersTransformLives share their stories of how with the help and materials they need, their teaching has changed and enabled them to turn their classrooms into springboards for success.
To learn more about the new international campaign that highlights the stories of effective teachers in challenging locations, please visit the campaign homepage.
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