EI welcomes the launch of the Teacher Qualifications Comparability Table for Commonwealth countries
Education International participated in the recent 5th Commonwealth Teacher Research Symposium held from 24-25 Mar at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Focusing on “Enhancing Commonwealth teacher professionalism and status: promoting recognition, registration and standards”, the symposium called upon governments and other stakeholders to address the challenge of the devalued professional status of teachers across and beyond the Commonwealth.
The meeting was attended by more than 30 researchers, officials and representatives of national, regional and international organisations and higher education institutions. EI was represented by its Education and Employment Senior Co-ordinator, Dennis Sinyolo, and colleagues from the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU), the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
The symposium presented evidence indicating teacher migration continues to be a growing phenomenon in many countries across the globe, causing severe current and future shortages in teacher supply and demand, and impacting severely on the quality of education systems in the "sending" countries.
It reiterated the need for countries to apply both the principles and provisions of the Commonwealth Teacher Recruitment Protocol in managing teacher migration, in order to guarantee the right of individual teachers to migrate, while protecting the integrity of vulnerable education systems.
Empirical evidence presented at the event also showed that teachers' professional status continues to be devalued. Governments, teacher unions and other stakeholders need to address teacher training and upgrading, the recognition of teacher qualifications, the professional registration of teachers and the development of professional standards. The symposium also emphasised the regulation of recruitment agencies in order to curtail or prevent the exploitation of migrant teachers.
On the occassion, the Commonwealth Secretariat released a “Teacher Qualifications Comparability Table” which compares teacher qualifications in 35 Commonwealth countries at both primary and secondary school levels. It also presents a number of implications in terms of the recognition of teacher qualifications across borders, teacher mobility and minimum standards for the teaching profession, within and beyond the Commonwealth.
EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, welcomes the launch of the Teacher Qualifications Comparability Table and calls for the implementation of the Commonwealth Teacher Recruitment Protocol as an instrument of good practice in managing teacher migration:
"The comparability table is a valuable research tool which provides a useful comparison of teacher qualifications across the Commonwealth," he said.
Below is read the full statement of the symposium in English.
University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa March 23 – 25, 2010
Enhancing Commonwealth teacher professionalism and status: Promoting recognition, registration and standards
Researchers, officials and representatives of regional international organizations and higher education institutions meeting for the Fifth Annual Commonwealth Teacher Research Symposium organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat and hosted by the South African Qualifications Authority and the University of the Free State, agreed to the following over a two-day period during which research and data were presented and shared with all participants:
- teacher migration, including also serial and return migration, is recognised as an increasing global phenomenon that requires ongoing research in the Commonwealth, in both quantitative and qualitative modes. Many countries across the globe face severe current and future shortages and changes in teacher supply and demand, and the impact on learners - in this regard the influence of language (mainly English) and gender (mainly female teachers) and teachers of critical subject areas, such as mathematics and science on migration trends requires closer scrutiny
- recognising that inequalities and differences within and across Commonwealth countries exist (particularly vulnerable small states), and considering that fair and ethical treatment in the international recruitment of teachers is an important cornerstone of the Commonwealth Teacher Recruitment Protocol, the view that migrant teachers are mere commodities should be directly challenged at all levels through the broad dissemination of research findings to relevant ministries government (e.g. education, finance, economic planning, and labour), professional teacher bodies, teacher unions, and most critically, directly to recruitment agencies;
- in order to enhance the professionalism of teachers and address the ongoing challenge of the devalued professional status of teachers across Commonwealth countries (also in comparison to other professions), teacher training, the recognition of teacher qualifications, the professional registration of teachers and the development of professional teacher standards, is actively encouraged through ongoing pan-Commonwealth research;
- an increased acknowledgement of the role of the professionalization of teachers through an improved understanding of teacher qualifications and standards, that considers local, national, transnational and international contexts, is encouraged in the Commonwealth to inform the manner in which teacher qualifications and standards are compared and developed;
- a specific research focus on teacher preparation and the use of teaching standards, the interrelationship between time-based and outcomes-based approaches, as well as the manner in which complex teaching and learning can be included in teacher qualifications is proposed;
- the increased comparability and recognition of teacher qualifications across Commonwealth countries is actively encouraged and further research in this area should also include credential evaluation agencies and the role of recruitment agencies;
- advocacy of teachers’ rights, effective protection of the vulnerable teacher, and appropriate strategies should be promoted to uplift the status of teachers and teaching as a profession.
The participants concluded by expressing their gratitude to SAQA and the UFS for the hosting of the event, and the Commonwealth Secretariat for convening the 5th Research Symposium agreeing that the annual teacher research symposia have contributed directly to the development of a strong internationally-constituted community of practice that has been able to directly influence the recruitment, retention and status of teachers across the Commonwealth since 2006 through focused research.
March 25, 2010 Bloemfontein, South Africa