Varkey Foundation, an educational organisation with a global vision of quality education for every child – through boosting the capacity and status of teachers around the world commissioned a survey of global teacher status in which it was discovered student performance is connected to communal respect for teachers. Of the 35 countries polled, Asian countries thrived very highly in respect for teacher with the expectant and desirable outcome for higher learner attainment in Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore and China while the reverse is the case in Brazil and Israel. Perhaps not quite surprising is the survey result due to poor perception of teachers in developing countries which is not unconnected to low wages and the comparison to desired and traditional professions such as medicine and engineering. As hundreds of thousands enter into the teaching profession annually, they do so on the basis of the intention to impart knowledge and positively influence youths to become self-sufficient, economically productive and good citizens. Some also enter the profession because of the esteem associated with it, though perceptions have gradually dropped in developing economies which struggle to support teacher or indeed provide effective education systems for its young population.
When the global Teachers Status index was launched in 2013, it was remarkable to identify a positive correlation between teacher status and pupil performance. This called for action to raise teacher status with the desired outcome of increasing outcomes for pupils. The Varkey Foundation established the Global Teacher Prize in response, leading to a progressive and improved perception of teachers worldwide.
With the newly identified correlation, the question emerges around what education providers can do to improve student performance and outcomes. Raising teacher status is definitely on the stakes but a broad objective which requires the formulation of policies and strategies towards the same goal. Reviewing teacher remuneration and job perks is strongly recommended to further trigger teacher effectiveness with the ultimate goal of maximising pupil attainment. While differences in many country’s fiscal systems, provision of resources and the quality of educations influence decisions to raise teacher profile, attention should be relatively paid to deliberately support teachers and inject more resources and funds into the education provision preliminarily to attract teachers and retain them in the profession. Without any guarantees that pay review will achieve the desirable result of increased student outcome, it was discovered that in China, Malaysia, India and Indonesia where teachers are highly rated, teacher pay remained relatively low. On the other hand, many countries in Europe such as Spain, Luxembourg and Germany where teacher status was low, they enjoy a relatively high pay. It is fair to conclude that there is a weak correlation between teacher status and pay but quite strong when the status is compared to communal perception of teachers.
In the recently concluded Yidan Prize Summit, the Right Honourable Gordon Brown in his closing keynote address titled New Innovations in the World of Education, he alluded to a revolution to rescue the crisis in global education. While insisting on governments and education leaders to access the International Finance Facility for Education to improve education provision in their home countries, he called for urgent action to a timetable and a deadline by 2030 for over 2,000,000 children to access both primary and secondary education.
On his list of revolution after funding, was the raising of teacher status as a catalyst for effective and desirable change to be followed by advocation in the use of technology and delivery in the most difficult places in the world such as those where there are large populations of displaced people, victims of war and natural disasters and places of endemic epidemies.
Teacher status continues to be an underpinning focus of many big organisations after conducting research into global education systems. The Varkey Foundation, the Education Commission and the Yidan Prize among others all independently in their various missions consent that teachers are at the heart of revolutionising global education systems. Funding as crucial as it is, is necessary to raise stakes, inject resources into failing systems, improve sophisticated systems and support new teaching innovations but will not, in isolation achieve set targets without the role of the teacher. It is therefore a noble cause that teachers suddenly are placed at the centre of an education revolution to catalyse quality education through inventive teaching and learning techniques, a shift from 20th century ‘talk and chalk’ practices and a new attention to children caught in crisis hotspots all over the world so that individual full potential could be achieved.
UKAPES vision correlates with the new global education revolution through teacher development workshops which subsequently enhances the quality of teaching and learning in towns and cities across parts of West Africa. Our mission to transfer teaching and learning skills to Africa identifies huge gaps in teaching skills and intends to continually close the widening gaps through relevant workshops in many cities and towns and engagement with teacher groups.
Our target beneficiaries are carefully selected to include teachers in remote areas of Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea Conakry. While in Nigeria, in December 2015, a cohort of internally displaced teachers were trained in modern teaching techniques as a support mechanism to rehabilitate them into their profession after forced displacement from the far Northeastern Nigeria. The project called CPD4IDT was jointly implemented by Fantsuam Foundation and the Jema’a Local Authority of Kaduna State, Nigeria. Additionally, many schools responded favourably to invitations to teacher professional sessions from 5 states which include Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja where a cumulative total of over 3000 teachers participated. In Sierra Leone, teachers in Freetown also responded favourably to free CPD sessions which took place in August 2018. Over 100km from Freetown, scores of Sierra Leonean and Guinean teachers attended free CPD sessions in Makeni, where they remarked such a historical event to support teachers had never been held. Genuinely neglected by the authorities in dilapidated classrooms and poor infra-structures, teachers appreciated strategies to improve their practice.
Raising teacher status has indeed become a force to be reckoned with as a great influencer of reinstituting global quality education. No longer is schooling synonymous with learning as recognised by education leaders and world organisations. Indeed, it is time that teachers were fortified with all mechanisms to achieve global quality education through elevating global teacher status.