Introduction Top

Teachers are central to teaching and key in the learning process.

The right to quality Education for every child can only be achieved if there are sufficient numbers of adequately and highly qualified teachers. This requires sufficient and quality teacher education institutions and continuous education and lifelong facilities for all teachers.

Many countries continue to recruit un (under)qualified teachers, thereby compromising the quality of education. To achieve the Education for All (EFA) goals the international community needs, not only to address the substantial shortage of teachers, but also to tackle the causes of attrition and the qualification level of teachers.

EI insists that teacher education and professional development needs to be a top priority in education policies and in education financing strategies.

Policy Top

Ever since its foundation in 1993, EI has advocated and developed actions in favour of high quality teacher education. EI’s policy on teacher education is based on the following principles:

  • All teachers must receive initial higher education level training before starting to teach.

  • All teachers should receive mentoring, induction into the profession, in-service training and on-going professional development.
  • Short-term solutions may be found to address critical teacher shortages, particularly in emergencies, conflict situations or when delivering specific programmes.

  • However, such solutions must be agreed with ministries of education, teaching unions and, if relevant, international funding agencies.

  • Students admitted to fast-track training programmes must be chosen according to the same criteria as those receiving standard training or according to even more rigorous criteria. It is important that such students be able to complete their training at a later stage.

  • Special provisions, including additional periods of study leave, with full pay, must be given to teachers who have received accelerated training, so they may complete their qualifications on an in-service basis.

  • Such practices should be implemented only on condition that full training be provided for a proportion of the new teachers (to be determined on a national basis) to ensure the existence of a body of teachers sufficiently skilled to guide the whole teaching profession.

  • The performance assessment of teachers should be developmental and arrangements for such assessment should be laid down in collective agreements.

EI supports and promotes implementation of the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) and the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel (1997).

Activities: Joining forces with others Top

Quality Educators For All Project

In 2008, EI and Oxfam Novib (Netherlands) launched the Quality Educators’ for All Project (Quality-Ed). The overall objective of the Quality-Ed is to assist public authorities in meeting their responsibilities to provide quality public education by improving teacher quality. Since its establishment, the project has continued to grow in scope. Two pilots were launched in Mali and Uganda, culminating in the development of a national competence profile of a primary school teacher in each country. The profile was developed through an inclusive process involving teacher unions, civil society organisations, ministries of education, teacher training colleges, universities and other stakeholders.

These national profiles were the reference for further action in Mali and Uganda to increase the qualification levels of teachers and to provide the students in places which are difficult to reach with quality educators.

Parktonian Recommendations

In 2006, EI and ActionAid International (AAI) agreed on a set of recommendations for collaborative and joint action. These recommendations, agreed at the Parktonian Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa, are referred to as the Parktonian Recommendations. Key areas of joint action in the recommendations include dealing with macro-economic policies of international financial institutions; non-professional teachers; girls’ access to quality education, HIV and AIDS and building a code of conduct for teachers. Since 2006, EI and AAI have held regular follow up activities.

Task Force on Teachers for EFA

EI is a member of the International Task Force on Teachers for EFA, housed at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The Task Force was established in 2008, following a decision of the EFA High Level Group in Oslo, Norway, and its main aim is to assist countries to address the teacher gap.

Research and publications Top

Teacher Supply, Recruitment and Retention in Six Anglophone Sub-Saharan African Countries

This study examines teacher supply needs, issues and challenges in the Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. It documents and analyses cases of accelerated teacher education programmes and de-professionalization through the employment of unqualified under qualified and contract teachers.


Learning how to teach: The upgrading of unqualified primary teachers in sub-Saharan Africa. Lessons from Tanzania, Malawi and Nigeria

Learning How to Teach: the Upgrading of Unqualified Primary Teachers in sub-Saharan Africa is a research study undertaken by Herman Kruijer, a freelance researcher in the field of education. The study focused on the education of under-qualified primary teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa, in order to expand the knowledge on initiatives that provide teachers with additional training to fully qualify them. The study maps and analyses specific examples of upgrading programmes for unqualified primary teachers in three case study countries, namely Tanzania, Malawi and Nigeria. Its findings are based on interviews with teacher, union leaders and other educational stakeholders, as well as classroom observations, during an intensive field research undertaken in May-June 2009.

  • The publication is available online at:

Teachers’ education and professional development systems in Asia-Pacific region

Similar to the regional study on teachers’ education and professional development undertaken in Africa, and currently underway in Latin America (organised by the Latin American regional office), a study has been done in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Quality Educators for All project

The international research study “Quality Educators: An International Study of Teacher Competences and Standards” was published in May 2011.The research component of this EI - Oxfam/Novib joint project addresses the analysis of existing primary teachers profiles in all regions and consists of two activities: review of existing literature worldwide and, in addition to the pilots in Mali and Uganda,  field work in selected case studies in six countries - two from Latin America, two from Africa and two from Asia. On the basis of the research a set of guidelines on national competence profiles is being developed to support the action of teacher  unions and national stakeholders involved in the development of teacher competence profiles.

The full international study is available here.

A national study was also conducted in Mali. To read “Reducing barriers for community school teachers to become qualified teachers,” concerning the Quality Educators for All project in this country, please click here.

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