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Blog
  • 29.11.2021

This radio program in Uganda is inspiring teachers to take risks and try new ideas

This blog has been written by STiR Education Uganda in the framework of the 13th Policy Dialogue Forum on Innovation in teacher policy and practice for educational recovery, happening 2-3 December in Kigali, Rwanda, and on-line.

Register to the Forum here.


The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an enormous challenge to Uganda’s education system. A year of school closures has turned the lives of 10.2 million children and 200,000 teachers upside down.

The country’s initial response to this situation focused predominantly on ensuring continuity of learning for all children. However, teachers were not involved in this process – which made it likely that they would be less effective in supporting students once schools reopened.

School closures during the pandemic have affected teachers in other ways too. It has caused many teachers social and emotional stress, as they are often unsure of both their obligations and how to stay connected with students to support learning.

Taking to the airwaves

STiR Education, an international NGO that focuses on reigniting intrinsic motivation within teachers and education officials, came up with an innovative solution for Uganda that mitigated the impact of COVID-19 on teachers, the wider education system, and supported their readiness to return to school.

STiR worked closely with senior officials within the country’s Ministry of Education and Sports to develop a radio-based continuous professional development (CPD) programme for teachers. This involved a 30-minute session delivered over national and local radio every two weeks.

The sessions were based on simple but effective evidence-based teaching strategies to help all teachers progress and improve their practice. Each lesson was accompanied by a one-page document or infographic shared over WhatsApp to reinforce the content. STiR also shared recordings of each broadcast with officials so they could forward them on to teachers. In this way, it ensured that as many educators as possible could engage with the content.

STiR recognised that it would be insufficient to engage teachers alone. So they introduced weekly one-on-one coaching sessions with district officials, with the aim of supporting them to lead fortnightly conference calls with small groups of school leaders to review the radio lesson content and to develop plans for the teachers that they were supporting. This has helped to ensure the biggest possible audience for the content, and has maintained the engagement of the entire education system.

Reigniting motivation

The organisation says that the results of this innovation have been positive. The radio lessons have motivated and inspired teachers to take steps to improve their teaching, while the follow-up support materials shared on WhatsApp further strengthened their professional development.

Radio has huge potential as a professional education delivery medium for teachers in the midst of school closures and travel restrictions, according to STiR.

Teachers in the programme have learnt to believe in their ability to create change. They have cultivated a growth mindset, learned and promoted safe practices around COVID-19, and addressed gaps in their own teaching practice - all while being helped to emotionally prepare for their return to schools.

Learning to address gaps through instruction

STiR Education was pleased to hear that some school leaders have bought radios for staff rooms to increase teacher engagement. The organisation says it has also worked to identify ways to share examples of teachers who have found the radio content particularly beneficial. For example, some teachers sit in small groups, listen to the lesson, and then call in to share how they plan to support learners in the community in preparation for the reopening of schools.

This year, STiR’s content has had a particular focus on supporting teachers’ psycho-social and socio-emotional well-being. To improve learning at scale sustainably and equitably in this rapidly-changing world, teachers’ emotional resilience can be strengthened by promoting feelings of safety, trust in others, self-worth and hope for the future.

A happy medium

Radio has proved to be a cost-effective medium for delivering teacher development content across STiR’s 40 districts and municipalities – and beyond. STiR also used the innovation to successfully reach teachers outside its districts of operations in Eastern, Central, and Northern Uganda.

However, STiR says that it has not all been plain sailing. It faced two major barriers: firstly, patchy mobile network coverage affected the quality of school leader conference calls. The STiR team tried to mitigate this by scheduling calls in advance so that the leaders could ensure that they are in a location with good network reception. Sharing content via WhatsApp has also helped to make this less of a problem.

Secondly, this approach presented limited opportunities for teachers to collaborate and share professional development plans. In response, STiR provided opportunities for teachers to call in at the end of each lesson to share their reflections and to receive feedback on their plans from fellow educators. STiR remarks that this has created a sense of community, and has helped teachers to gain the confidence to collaborate and share feedback.

Going forward, the STiR team acknowledges that it is critical that training via radio addresses both the psycho-social and pedagogical needs of teachers so that they can, in turn, support the development of skills, knowledge, values and attitudes in those they teach. This can be achieved through activities that improve teachers’ emotional well-being as well as their pedagogical practice.

The pandemic has undoubtedly presented multiple challenges to education around the world. Innovation will be instrumental for speeding up education recovery. STiR states: “We are proud to support the ongoing professional development of teachers’ in Uganda via radio, WhatsApp and weekly coaching calls, not least because ultimately it will benefit the group most in need of our help and support: our schoolchildren.”

STiR Education is taking part in this year's Policy Dialogue Forum. Learn more about the event here.


The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this article do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO and the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The ideas and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors; they are not necessarily those of UNESCO and do not commit the Organization.

Photo credit: STiR Education Uganda

Event
  • 19.10.2021

Norwegian Teacher Initiative (NTI) - Final Forum

UNESCO and all Partner Organizations of the Norwegian Teacher Initiative (NTI) are pleased to invite you to the NTI Final Forum. Within four sessions, we will celebrate, share, and discuss main achievements and lessons learned within the framework of NTI.

To register, click on the links provided:

Session 1 (21 October, 13:30-15:00 CEST): Looking back – what has been achieved under NTI?

Registration: https://unesco-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYkcu-oqDsvHdw-caV9EbTjJe-4nN43HKHD

Session 2 (21 October, 15:30-17:00 CEST): Social dialogue in education – Considerations for teacher policy development and implementation

Registration: https://unesco-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMod-GspjgiH9wxB22h1tC3Wo6BgsYYP1Tl

Session 3 (22 October, 13:30-15:30 CEST): Looking forward – NTI Exit Strategies

Registration: https://unesco-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0qf-quqTguE9aPh5tTnDmBxEyPHfLSuT8d

Session 4 (22 October, 16:00-17:30 CEST): NTI Final Steering Committee Meeting (closed session for NTI Steering Committee members only)

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information for joining the session.

During the session, simultaneous interpretation will be provided in English and French. Please find further information about the event in the concept note attached to this mail.

The initiative Strengthening Multi-Partner Cooperation to Support Teacher Policy and Improve Learning, also known as the Norwegian Teacher Initiative (NTI), set-up in 2017, aims at supporting countries in developing their teacher policy while reinforcing the coordination among key international organizations and national actors working on teacher matters thereby bringing more coordinated support to countries. UNESCO, the overall coordinator of NTI, joined forces with seven key education partners: Education International (EI), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the International Labour Organization (ILO), UNHCR, UNICEF, the World Bank, and the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 (TTF) supporting the Governments of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda. While Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi have been developing a national teacher policy under NTI, Uganda’s focus has been on planning and starting the implementation of its national teacher policy.

In addition to developing and initiating the implementation of their national teacher policy, all countries have achieved important results. One of the key innovations of NTI has been the active involvement of teacher unions in teacher policy development processes and the strengthening of their capacities in this area.

If you have any questions about the NTI Final Forum, please contact sm.richter@unesco.org.

Photo credit: Christiaan Triebert-Shutterstock.com

Event
  • 19.10.2021

Norwegian Teacher Initiative (NTI) - Final Forum

UNESCO and all Partner Organizations of the Norwegian Teacher Initiative (NTI) are pleased to invite you to the NTI Final Forum. Within four sessions, we will celebrate, share, and discuss main achievements and lessons learned within the framework of NTI.

To register, click on the links provided:

Session 1 (21 October, 13:30-15:00 CEST): Looking back – what has been achieved under NTI?

Registration: https://unesco-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYkcu-oqDsvHdw-caV9EbTjJe-4nN43HKHD

Session 2 (21 October, 15:30-17:00 CEST): Social dialogue in education – Considerations for teacher policy development and implementation

Registration: https://unesco-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMod-GspjgiH9wxB22h1tC3Wo6BgsYYP1Tl

Session 3 (22 October, 13:30-15:30 CEST): Looking forward – NTI Exit Strategies

Registration: https://unesco-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0qf-quqTguE9aPh5tTnDmBxEyPHfLSuT8d

Session 4 (22 October, 16:00-17:30 CEST): NTI Final Steering Committee Meeting (closed session for NTI Steering Committee members only)

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information for joining the session.

During the session, simultaneous interpretation will be provided in English and French. Please find further information about the event in the concept note attached to this mail.

The initiative Strengthening Multi-Partner Cooperation to Support Teacher Policy and Improve Learning, also known as the Norwegian Teacher Initiative (NTI), set-up in 2017, aims at supporting countries in developing their teacher policy while reinforcing the coordination among key international organizations and national actors working on teacher matters thereby bringing more coordinated support to countries. UNESCO, the overall coordinator of NTI, joined forces with seven key education partners: Education International (EI), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the International Labour Organization (ILO), UNHCR, UNICEF, the World Bank, and the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 (TTF) supporting the Governments of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Uganda. While Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi have been developing a national teacher policy under NTI, Uganda’s focus has been on planning and starting the implementation of its national teacher policy.

In addition to developing and initiating the implementation of their national teacher policy, all countries have achieved important results. One of the key innovations of NTI has been the active involvement of teacher unions in teacher policy development processes and the strengthening of their capacities in this area.

If you have any questions about the NTI Final Forum, please contact sm.richter@unesco.org.

Photo credit: Christiaan Triebert-Shutterstock.com

Blog
  • 27.09.2021

Developing crisis-sensitive teacher policy: Webinar and international consultation

In the face of increasing global disruptions and crises, ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all by 2030 (SDG 4) will not be possible unless education planning is crisis-sensitive. Teachers, who are the most important in-school factor influencing student achievement, are often at the frontline in situations of crisis. For this reason, it is imperative to prioritize, support and protect teachers through adequate education policy and planning.

Building on the Guidance Note on Developing a Crisis-Sensitive Teacher Policy, jointly developed by UNESCO, UNHCR, ILO, and UNICEF in 2020 under the Norwegian Teacher Initiative (NTI), the webinar on Crisis-Sensitive Teacher Policy and Planning in Emergency and Displacement Situations on 16 September brought together policy experts, country representatives and teachers to shed a light on what is needed to ensure that teacher policy is crisis-sensitive.

In a discussion that touched upon the key policy areas of the guide, participants shared lessons learned during previous and ongoing crises, expanded on the role of teachers in emergency and displacement contexts and advocated for increased support for teachers in such contexts.

Displacement creates challenges for teacher recruitment, training and deployment  

If Covid-19 highlighted at a global level the hardships educators confront when schooling is disrupted, this pandemic is only one among many situations of crisis that challenge the continuity and quality of education worldwide. According to UNHCR (2021), at the end of 2020, 82.4 million people were forcibly displaced due to violent conflict, persecution and natural disasters.

Uganda, which has experienced several displacement crises, is currently one of the largest refugee-hosting countries in Africa. It hosts over 1.4 million refugees, making up 3.6 % of the country's total population. During the webinar, Ms. Constance Alezuyo, Coordinator of the National Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities, explained that one of the biggest challenges her country faced in providing quality education for refugee children and youth has been recruiting teachers to live and work in the remote places where refugees are located. Furthermore, even when qualified teachers willing to relocate are found, it is difficult to provide them with adequate housing.

Ms. Angéline Neya Donbwa, Technical Secretary for Education in Emergencies in Burkina Faso, echoed Ms. Alezuyo’s assessment. She added that with over of 1.4 million internally displaced persons and 2,444 schools closed in her country, redeployment of teachers from conflict-ridden areas to overcrowded host villages in safer zones has been a major challenge. Grace*, an internally displaced teacher also from Burkina Faso, expanded on the challenges of teaching children who have been traumatized. She explained that some of her students had trouble concentrating in class, were afraid or reacted in aggressive or violent ways. She also noted that in her classroom she had to address the needs of internally displaced children as well as be responsive to the needs of the children of the host community.

Psychosocial and financial support are essential for both students and teachers

Psychosocial support stands out as an important dimension of crisis-sensitive planning. Ms. Neya Donbwa explained that the need for this type of support has clearly been expressed by communities affected by insecurity and violence in her country. In addition to needing support to cope with traumatic situations themselves, teachers need to be able to deal with the physical and emotional impact of the crisis on their students. This has led Ms. Neya Donbwa’s team to develop a module for dealing with traumatic situations to supplement their “Safe School” trainings designed to prepare teachers for crisis situations.   

Moreover, teachers’ financial stability is often impacted during crisis and emergency situations. Ms. Neya Donbwa explained that continuing to pay teachers’ salaries when they had to flee unsafe areas is one of the provisions in their crisis teacher management strategy. Similarly, Ms. Alezuyo explained that during times of crisis in Uganda, government school teachers kept receiving their salaries until they were redeployed. However, this was not the case for private school teachers during the Covid-19 crisis, as Ms. Stella Turehe, a teacher from Uganda explained. Ms. Turehe shared that the financial pressures private schools faced during this crisis led to many school closures and teachers losing their jobs.

Complying with sanitary measures demands flexibility and innovation

Complying with Covid-19 sanitary measures was also difficult for schools and at times, led to their complete closure. In Uganda, the measures issued by the Ministry of Health capped student-teacher ratios at 20 students per teacher. According to Ms. Turehe, refugee settlement schools - which have high enrolment numbers – have struggled to reopen. However, in response to this, teachers have initiated a number of actions with the support of NGOs, such as devising a double shift system to allow schools to re-open, and promoting e-learning through tablets and group-learning in refugee students’ communities.

Moreover, teachers also innovated to support the whole school community during the COVID-19 crisis in Uganda. This involved organizing back-to-school campaigns, setting up committees to connect with learners and parents, forming student clubs, and offering guidance to teens.

The importance of communication and consultation mechanisms

Teacher communication and feedback mechanisms are essential to ensuring that policy-makers are adequately informed about the rapidly changing conditions that characterize crisis situations. Ms. Alezuyo explained that there are different levels of communication between policy-makers, teachers and communities in Uganda and how they are adapted to crisis-sensitive education planning. The teacher management information system tracks teachers’ levels of training and experience which facilitates teacher deployment and efficient planning during crises. Communication at school and community level has adapted, including through mobile phones, radios and social media platforms.

Consultation for new module on Crisis-Sensitive Teacher Policy

The webinar also launched an international consultation to develop a new module on Crisis-Sensitive Teacher Policy and Planning which will complement the Teacher Policy Development Guide developed by the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030The module has been developed with the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP).

The draft module is available for comments and suggested case studies at the link below:

English: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NC8h2fNfjYj3CxSI2jkQWOYjy2v5Zz1N/edit

French: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1E6WlaCuoeDGyi6WHTZPaUUAcHntbB97t/edit?rtpof=true&sd=true

Please submit your comments and suggestions by 1 October to sm.richter@unesco.org.


*Name has been changed for security reasons 

Photo credit: UNHCR/Eduardo Soteras

Manual / Handbook
  • pdf
  • 08.12.2020

Active Teaching & Learning

The starting point and inspiration for this guide to Active Teaching and Learning is largely adopted from the UNESCO-IICBA modules on ‘Fundamentals of Teacher Education Development’. Instead of...
Blog
  • 26.11.2020

New UNICEF study unveils challenges affecting teacher attendance in sub-Saharan Africa

This is a summary repost of the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti article of which the full version can be consulted here

Important new research on teacher absenteeism in sub-Saharan Africa was launched 24 November at a regional online workshop of national and international education stakeholders organized in Nairobi, Kenya. Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in Eastern and Southern Africa, provides insights into the drivers of primary school teacher absenteeism, a major obstacle in efforts to address the learning crisis among children of low- and middle-income countries around the world.

Produced by UNICEF Innocenti, the report synthesizes findings from eight sub-Saharan countries with a focus on the many complex factors that affect teacher time on task across the region. The study provides robust evidence on the challenges faced by teachers to improve policies on teacher working conditions, accountability and motivation. Reduced teacher time on task is considered one of the greatest challenges toward inclusive and quality education.

Photo credit: screenshot from the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti video