The ‘Quality Educators For All’ project has been developed by EI in partnership with Oxfam Netherlands Novib. Commonly referred to as the ‘Quality-Ed Project’, its purpose is to help public authorities meet their responsibility of providing good quality public education.
The Quality-Ed Project focuses on building relationships between education authorities and stakeholders, in particular teachers unions, with the aim of developing a teacher competency profile, a curriculum focusing on life-skills, and supporting training programmes for unqualified primary school teachers in both formal and non-formal education.
“The programme has two major advantages,” says EI’s Quality-Ed Project leader, Gaston De la Haye. “Firstly, it brings added value in terms of teacher’s professional development by allowing teachers unions to share their expertise and ‘reclaim’ their profession through the major role they play in this project. This is particularly valuable in the development of the teacher competency profile, the review of teacher training programmes and the life-skills focused curriculum.”
“The second advantage is that trade unions can reinforce their position as social partners in negotiations about employment and teaching conditions,” adds De la Haye.
“It is not only about training unqualified or under-qualified teachers or standardising their status. Unions will also get to play their full role in negotiating salaries and decent working conditions for their members,” concludes De la Haye.
The Quality-Ed Project was launched in November 2007 in Uganda and Mali, with the two pilot projects achieving commendable results.
“In those two countries, we were able to gather all education stakeholders, including education ministries, trade unions and civil society organisations as participants,” notes De la Haye.
Oxfam Novib’s project leader, Liana Gertsch, explains that her organization got involved because: “This project is an integral part of our work on human rights and social equity. The right to essential services, such as quality education, is part and parcel of a government's responsibility towards its citizens.”
“We welcome the opportunities that are evident in the Quality-Ed Project to contribute to a link between non-formal and formal education, so that every child has equal access to quality public education, starting with the educators as the cornerstone of quality throughout the educational process,” she adds.
Gertsch continues to add that “Quality-Ed Project also aims to increase the proportion of women recruited for teacher training, and to support women who are in training to complete their training. UNESCO has documented very high attrition rates that are often found in the teaching profession. It is not always clear how related to gender these rates are, but we know from experience in Mali and Uganda that attrition rates are high among women, even at the stage of training. An indispensable starting point for quality educators is to define the competencies that female and male teachers need to actively promote gender equity in their teaching practice.”
According to independent Chairperson of the Programme, Sylvia Borren, “The improvements for trade unions are that they can grow by including non-formal teachers as members, and creating a win-win situation to get them trained and thereby reduce teacher shortages. This will reduce class sizes, which is hugely important to teachers and pupils alike.”
“Through life-skill lessons, teachers and pupils can be encouraged to teach and learn what is of vital importance in the local context,” adds Borren. “This can be anything from growing your own vegetables, to baby-care, to how to avoid contracting HIV or prevent violence against women.”
The partners are now working on a process to review the teacher competency profile that will help provide student teachers and teachers with the overall knowledge and pedagogical, social and psychological skills that are required in order to tailor their teaching practice to the needs of each individual pupil, while respecting the collective learning objectives of the group.
EI and Oxfam are also seeking to secure further funding to expand the successful Quality-Ed Project to other regions and countries.
By Claude Carroué.
This article was published in Worlds of Education, Issue 34, June 2010.