Teachers are fundamental to achieving quality education for all. Without teachers, new classrooms and new textbooks are useless. But poor salaries, inadequate training, management and working conditions are forcing many teachers to leave the profession.
Read our latest research on primary education in Zanzibar:
While donors are encouraging poor country governments to scale up enrolments to get the remaining 69 million children still excluded from education into school, they are not making similar investments in teacher recruitment, training and retention. Primary school teachers in Africa are paid as little as US$25 a month – officially living well below the poverty line. Yet teachers in many countries are expected to teach classes of over 100 pupils, and work 12-hour days.
What we're calling for
VSO's ‘Valuing Teachers' research, completed in 13 countries, has identified the following key messages:
The role of head teachers is crucial for improving teacher motivation and for improving learning outcomes for girls and boys. Therefore, the introduction of management training for school leaders should be prioritised.
Management of education has many dimensions, but the biggest investment of funds and human resources has always been and should always be in teachers. It is vital that governments and donors prioritise teacher management.
The quality of teacher training dictates the quality of teaching. Moves to reduce the length and quality of pre-service training to cut costs are damaging the quality of teaching and learning.
Gender and inclusion should be addressed in teacher management and training systems. This is to ensure that there are a representative number of positive role models for girls, boys, children with disabilities and other excluded groups. This will also allow teachers to enjoy equal pay and conditions and will improve learning outcomes for girls and children from excluded groups.
Valuing Teachers research and advocacy
Since 2000, Valuing Teachers research has been conducted in 12 countries and is currently underway in two more countries. See the table below for our research reports and contact details of the Valuing Teachers team. Following the research, we have developed advocacy strategies. These include the development of partnerships and volunteer placements in:
Civil society education coalitions: to develop their capacity to use research findings to lobby for change, undertake budget and other Education for All monitoring activities, and to increase their voice in policy making processes.
Teachers unions: to increase their capacity to represent teachers, negotiate better terms and conditions, and engage in education policy dialogue.
Gender and disadvantaged people’s representative groups: girls' education focused groups, networks of people with disabilities, Dalits (often viewed as “outcasts” in Hindu society), ethnic minorities or people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS.
Ministries of Education: to increase their capacity to be responsive to civil society engagement in policy dialogue.
Outcomes have included:
VSO Nepal's national advocacy campaign has led to improvements in pre-school education and textbook delivery in rural areas and changes in government policy. This includes new life insurance for teachers, the introduction of positive discrimination in teacher recruitment and promotion to increase the numbers of female, disabled and minority teachers and head teachers. These changes were responses to recommendations made in Nepal’s 2005 report: Lessons From The Classroom, and the result of months of coordinated lobbying by VSO staff, volunteers and partners.
VSO Mozambique's DFID funded Valuing Teachers report: Listening to Teachers was presented to the high level advisory body of the Ministry of Education and Culture, donors and other stakeholder in January 2008. As a result of the study VSO Mozambique supported the national Department of Human Resources within the Ministry of Education to assess needs and priorities, particularly in terms of training, capacity building and developing a national HR strategy for education.
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- Managing Teachers: the Centrality of Teacher Management to Quality Education (987KB)
- The Final Countdown: Achieving Quality Education for All by 2015 – GCE UK report (1254KB)
- LINKS – Malawi and Zambia Education Advocacy Coalitions Study Tour Report (801KB)
- VSO and Education 2007-2012 – position paper (249KB)
- Making Education for All a Reality – policy briefing (84KB)
- Every Child Needs a Teacher – GCE campaign briefing (1737KB)
- Teachers for All – GCE policy briefing (566KB)
- START (Simple Toolkit for Advocacy Research Techniques) (1358KB)
- What Makes Teachers Tick? Policy Report (559KB)
- Cambodia Valuing Teachers: Progress report November 2011 (309KB)
- Teaching Matters – Cambodia (2455KB)
- VSO Cameroon – Actions and interactions. Full report (998KB)
- VSO Cameroon – Actions and interactions. Summary (602KB)
- Teachers Speak Out – The Gambia (631KB)
- Qualifying for Quality: The Gambia – Summary (2011) (891KB)
- Qualifying for Quality: The Gambia – Full report (2011) (1153KB)
- Teachers Talking: Mozambique – Summary (2011) (294KB)
- Teachers Talking: Mozambique – full report (2011) (812KB)
- Professores Falando (Teachers Talking in Portuguese) (1572KB)
- Listening to Teachers – Mozambique (1273KB)
- Listening to Teachers – Mozambique (Portuguese) (1338KB)
- Every Child Needs a Teacher – Research Report 2013 (Nigeria) (656KB)
- Teachers' Voice – Nigeria (709KB)