Education International
Education International

African educators taking strides to enhance teacher effectiveness

published 6 March 2015 updated 2 April 2015

In February, Education International organized national conversations on the issues affecting teacher effectiveness in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal, part of a programme aimed at boosting teacher unions’ promotion of quality education.

In February, Education International was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Senegal to organise national conversations on issues affecting teacher effectiveness, part of a programme aimed at boosting teacher unions’ promotion of quality education.

In each country, Education International (EI) member organisations brought together a group of over 50 educators who reflected on what is required to achieve quality, and how trade unions can play an active role in elaborating education policy proposals that build on their knowledge of the school reality and their classroom expertise. These conversations are part of a programme sponsored by the Global Partnership for Education(GPE) to enhance the engagement of teachers union’s in their efforts to promote quality education.

The project emerged from the conversations that the current context in which education occurs is not conducive to effective teaching.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, there was serious concern with the absence on in-service training, fundamental to quality when pre-service is considered inefficient and of low quality.  Teachers claim that they are expected to deliver new methodology and approaches without adequate training. In Senegal, effective teaching is an uphill battle. The poor infrastructure, the lack of materials and insufficient guidance and support are taking a toll on quality.

In both countries, participants expressed their concern with the relevance of the curriculum, which they claim is not adapted to the needs of students and the reality of their socio-economic context. They report that the increasing commercialisation of education is leading to the rapid creation of schools that do not meet minimum safety and quality standards.

There was broad consensus that education reform has failed to take into account the reality of the classroom. Teachers and education support personnel, who reviewed the programmes currently funded by the GPE for their countries, were concerned with the gap between the expected reform outcomes and the activities funded. In Senegal, while the aim of the program is to enhance quality of education, not a single cent is invested on teacher training. Teachers are not even mentioned as beneficiaries of the project. In the DRC, teachers, school principals and supervisors were sceptical about the impact of teacher training provided over the radio and called for further efforts to strengthen in-service training.

During the coming months, the participating unions are taking these conversations further and develop them with their membership, through a national consultation process, a diagnostic of the education system and elaborate policy proposals to enhance teacher effectiveness and the quality of education. When these proposals are presented to the national government and to donors active in the countries, with the aim of including them in the next GPE-sponsored program, their contribution will make education reform respond to the needs of students.