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9th International Policy Dialogue Forum

When: Saturday, December 3, 2016 - 00:00 - Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - 23:00
Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport of the Kingdom of Cambodia
  • International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Motivating teachers, what do we know and what do we need to achieve Education 2030 Agenda?


Teacher motivation is considered as a critical factor in teachers' performance and for the professionalization of teaching. This explains why the global education community gathered at the World Education Forum in Incheon in May 2015, has included the notion of "motivation" in the characteristics of the teachers and educators we need to achieve Education 2030 Agenda in the Sustainable Development Goals: "We will ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems." [our emphasis]

Through Goal 4 in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) World leaders committed to: "Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all." This goal is ambitious, yet crucial for the realisation of all other SDGs. To attain this goal, education systems must be supported by a workforce of qualified teachers. However, reality shows a gap between the number of qualified teachers and the number of teachers needed between now and 2030. UNESCO's Institutes for Statistics estimates that globally there's a need to recruit a total of nearly 69 million teachers (over 24 million for primary education and 44 million for secondary education). SDG4.c aims to address this by proposing to "substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small-island developing States.".

Since the adoption of the SDGs and the Framework for Action of Education 2030 Agenda, the objective of the International Task Force on Teachers is to use the platform of its annual policy dialogue fora – its flagship programme – to unpack the meaning and implications of the teacher target and its importance to the other SDG4 targets and the overall SDGs to its members and partners. To this end, it has chosen to focus its 9th policy dialogue forum on teacher Motivation, one of the key concepts in the provisions on teachers in the Incheon Declaration cited above. The theme of the forum is as follows: "Teacher Motivation: What do we know and what do we need to achieve Education 2030 Agenda?" The aim is to take stock of what research says about teacher motivation, what governments do to attract and retain good teachers (for all levels and types of education), what teachers want/need to be motivated, and in turns motivate learners for effective learning outcomes?

Over 300 participants from all regions, including policymakers, practitioners, researchers and development partners will address the above through four sub-themes and through keynote speeches, panel presentations, and discussions in plenary and group sessions. The group discussions will be organized around the following four sub-themes with the use of existing research findings, available data and examples of good practice in different contexts:

  1. Motivation and Teacher Education
  2. Teacher Motivation and Teachers' Working Conditions (at School Level)
  3. Education Governance and Teacher Motivation
  4. Teachers and Learners Profiles and Teacher Motivation
What do we know about motivation?

Teacher motivation is a significant factor in student performance. In recognising this, it leaves no doubt that teacher motivation is essential to quality education. Therefore, motivation should be a priority in the governance, the management and the training of teachers, and viewed as such from the initial stage of a teachers' career, and throughout. The concept of motivation is difficult to define due to its close relationship with both environmental factors and an individual's characteristics . As a result, researchers and practitioners tend to explore different concepts they deem closely related to motivation, or to identify factors that affect motivation.

A well-known theory on motivation is the self-determination theory of Deci and Ryan (2000) . They conceptualise motivation as for an individual 'being moved to do something' and being committed to it. Within the concept, they distinguish between different types of motivation based on the objectives and reasons which lead to the action. The two main types of motivation are intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation, "Intrinsic motivation is defined as the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfaction, rather than for some separable consequence." (p.56), whereas "Extrinsic motivation is a construct that pertains whenever an activity is done in order to attain some separable outcome." (p.60). As intrinsic motivation comes from the individual, from personal interests and characteristics, it is perceived to be a strong form of motivation. It is in contrast to extrinsic motivation that is induced and needs to be sustained by external factors.

Important needs for intrinsic motivation are autonomy, competence and relatedness. The term autonomy refers to the freedom of making your own choices, as choice is a vital factor for internalization of motivation for example through choosing topics for professional development, or having a voice in decisions. The feeling of competence refers to being able to complete a task, which will allow for satisfaction, and pride, while not being able to complete a task might lead to frustration and insecurity. Competence could be encouraged through education, evaluation and an effective system. The last factor identified is the feeling of belonging, people are more likely to act, if they feel that behaviour is being valued by others, whether that be a family, a peer group, or society. This feeling can also come from peer learning, good school leadership and a strong support system.

A second relevant theory is the Equity theory by Adams (1965). The assumption behind the theory is that employees search for a balance between what they perceive as the contributions they deliver and the benefits they receive in their work. Adams argues that basic conditions are necessary for an employee to be satisfied or motivated, when the basic conditions are not met, it can affect motivation and with that performance. An opportunity for motivating the teacher workforce, thus lies in the improvement of their working conditions.

Today few studies have been conducted on teacher motivation in developing countries. At the forum we aim to better understand teacher motivation by discussing and reflecting upon existing research, available data and actual practice.

What do we need?

During the forum we will focus on unpacking the concepts used in the Incheon Declaration, underlined in the statement below:

"We will ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems".

The forum will cover four sub-themes, which will be discussed in groups, and focus on the different fields and levels in which teacher motivation can be better understood and encouraged.

1. Motivation and Teacher Education

Teacher education is the beginning of every qualified teacher's professional career. Motivating and inspiring teachers during their professional education, both pre-service and in-service are fundamental for a lasting and satisfying career. Similarly, teachers must continuously develop professionally to adapt. For example, among the tools and means proposed to enhance teaching and learning is new technology. The comfort or discomfort felt by the teacher and the learners in applying technology to innovate practice is important. Questions to explore under the sub-theme include: How do initial and in-service training programmes (continuous professional development) serve to attract and retain good teachers? How do they develop the knowledge, skills and values that teachers and learners need to achieve effective teaching and learning? What curriculum contents and pedagogical practices, including the use of ICT, will support teachers and teacher educators to be professionals and ensure quality learning, etc.

2. Teacher Motivation and the Teachers' Working Conditions at School Level

Working conditions influence job satisfaction and motivation, and affect the teachers' dispositions to their job and their performance in the classroom. The school environment with the relations among the actors, the school ethics and values contributes to the feelings of belonging, competence and relatedness. Although, working conditions will impact individuals differently, factors such as access to professional support, facilities and materials should be considered as basic requirements for teaching, job satisfaction and the retention of teachers. The support that (novice) teachers receive from school leadership and senior teachers matter. It could reduce premature exit or attrition. Teacher autonomy, peer learning, relation with community, etc. will be explored here.

3. Education Governance and Teacher Motivation

For the proponents of the Incheon Declaration, it's only when educational systems are efficient and effectively governed that they could be able on a sustainable basis to attract to, and retain in the teaching profession individuals capable in willing to address the learning needs of all. Issues of teacher recruitment and equitable deployment, standards, certification, code of conduct, qualifications frameworks, teachers' participation in policy decision making, teacher salary and other incentives need to be addressed in a systemic manner. The importance of teacher data in planning cannot be overlooked; similarly, the question of what indicators could be used to monitor the dimension of motivation in SD4.c need to be further dug into

4. Teachers and Learners Profiles and Teacher Motivation

Closely related to the overall governance matters is the consideration that should be given to how education systems attract people from marginalized groups, minorities, people with special learning needs to espouse teaching and be supported to stay in the profession. How is teacher distribution organized for rural communities, remote areas, contexts of crisis and emergency to be staffed with teachers qualified of adequate qualifications? What about motivation challenges for teachers in sub-sectors like technical and vocational education (TVET), literacy and non-formal education, pre-primary education? For education to be of quality, the clear and deliberate attention to inclusive and equitable approaches to teacher management is fundamental.

Expected Outcomes

As mentioned previously, the purpose of the 9th International Policy Dialogue forum is to unpack the concepts used in the Incheon Declaration: "We will ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems." Within an overarching framework of teacher motivation and the four sub-themes identified, the outcome of the keynote speeches, panel presentation, and discussions in plenary and group sessions will be to have:

  1. Stock taken of current research, prevailing policies and good practices in relation to the sub-themes
  2. Common understanding developed on the concept of "Teacher Motivation" among members and stakeholders,
  3. Gaps identified in knowledge, data, expertise and resources
  4. Partnerships promoted among stakeholders for collaborative initiatives on further research, exchange of expertise, advocacy actions at global, regional and national levels 

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