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Event
  • 29.07.2021

13th International Policy Dialogue Forum

This year, the 13th Policy Dialogue Forum and governance meetings of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 (TTF) will take place from 1-3 December 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda and on-line. Jointly organized by the TTF Secretariat, and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Rwanda, the over-arching theme of this year’s policy dialogue forum is ‘Innovation in teacher policy and practice for educational recovery with particular attention to: i) innovation in teaching and learning, (ii) initial and in-service teacher education and (iii) education policy.

As the engine of improvement in education, innovation is critical for improving education quality for all learners and needs to be at the heart of education policies and policy making. The 2021 Policy Dialogue Forum will bring together education stakeholders from around the world, both in-person and on-line, to discuss the complexities of the post-COVID era and identify how to ‘build back better’ and ensure that education systems harness and expand collective capabilities for innovation. It will generate policy recommendations for ministries, civil society organisations, international organisations and donors that support teachers, school leaders, teacher educators and policy-makers.

Event
  • 29.07.2021

13th International Policy Dialogue Forum

This year, the 13th Policy Dialogue Forum and governance meetings of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 (TTF) will take place from 1-3 December 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda and on-line. Jointly organized by the TTF Secretariat, and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Rwanda, the over-arching theme of this year’s policy dialogue forum is ‘Innovation in teacher policy and practice for educational recovery with particular attention to: i) innovation in teaching and learning, (ii) initial and in-service teacher education and (iii) education policy.

As the engine of improvement in education, innovation is critical for improving education quality for all learners and needs to be at the heart of education policies and policy making. The 2021 Policy Dialogue Forum will bring together education stakeholders from around the world, both in-person and on-line, to discuss the complexities of the post-COVID era and identify how to ‘build back better’ and ensure that education systems harness and expand collective capabilities for innovation. It will generate policy recommendations for ministries, civil society organisations, international organisations and donors that support teachers, school leaders, teacher educators and policy-makers.

Blog
  • 27.04.2022

Teacher innovation is key for resilient education systems: Lessons from the 2021 Policy Dialogue Forum

By Carlos Vargas Tamez, Head of the Secretariat of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 and Chief of UNESCO’s Section for Teacher Development & Anna Conover, Consultant.

This blog has been originally published by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) on April 22, 2022.


Unforeseen crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and violent conflict remind us that teachers and education systems need to be able to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances to meet the learning needs of children and youth. Capacity for innovation is one of the keys to building resilient education systems. Capitalizing on the many education innovations prompted by the pandemic, the Teacher Task Force chose “Innovation in teacher policy and practice for educational recovery” as the theme of its 13th Policy Dialogue Forum, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda, and online, 2-3 December 2021.

Some of the main insights documented during the Forum are presented below, including those related to innovations in teaching and learning, teacher education and policy. These have been compiled in the Forum’s Final Report, released recently.

Teacher autonomy is essential for meaningful innovation in teaching and learning

Teachers are best placed to assess the conditions of their own classrooms. Based on these, they innovate and adapt their practice, but their innovations often go unrecognized. The Forum highlighted the need to promote teacher autonomy and agency – that is, the capacity to act in an autonomous manner – to generate meaningful pedagogical innovation. However, they need training, sufficient resources, good working conditions, and support to develop the autonomy and agency needed to initiate, implement and evaluate new ways to teach that will improve student learning and wellbeing.

Emphasizing how teaching and learning are based on relationships, Forum participants shared innovative examples of how teachers collaborated with peers and parents during the pandemic. For instance, in response to school closures, Kenya’s Teachers’ Service Commission provided educators with guidance on how to support other teachers and offer psychosocial support to families and learners. By providing teachers with opportunities to discuss their teaching practices and exchange resources with each other and with students’ families, key lessons learned now inform Kenya’s policies to support online learning and teacher professional development.

Innovations involving digital technologies must be adapted to each context

The role of digital technologies in innovation was also explored during the Forum, emphasizing tailored and context-sensitive use of technologies rather than one-size-fits-all solutions. While the pandemic hastened the need for technology-assisted innovations, mechanisms to assess, scale up, and refine are also necessary to ensure these innovations meet the needs for equitable, quality, and inclusive education. However, it is important that digital technologies do not reproduce top-down, rote learning resulting in excessive standardization, but rather are designed and implemented using a range of approaches to help foster student-centered pedagogies and facilitate education transformation.

Teacher education must be part of purposeful career paths

Teacher professional development should be embedded in teacher career paths and be aligned to teacher standards and accountability systems. Forum participants explored how countries need to avoid innovating in a fragmented fashion that does not follow commonly agreed principles. This requires alignment across levels of education and between initial teacher education and continuing professional development. It also requires better alignment between existing curricula, teacher professional development and student assessment to strengthen student outcomes.

Based on lessons learned during the pandemic, teacher education should also include peer learning and mentoring programmes. In particular, teacher education needs to integrate inquiry and research skills which prepare teachers to be lifelong-learners, able to adapt their practice to changing conditions and meet their students’ evolving needs. Teacher training and educational research institutions have an important role to support this kind of continuous exchange, particularly to address challenges brought on by rapid transformations.

Innovation in policy making must be inclusive and collaborative

Teachers need to be part of decision- and policy-making processes. One example presented was the development of the Comprehensive National Teacher Policy (CNTP) in Ghana. This process was coordinated by the Ghana Teacher Task Force (GTTF) with contributions from the Ghana Education Service, development partners, and other actors. This collaborative process established a framework for social dialogue with teachers and their representatives at the local, district, and national levels.

Policy also needs to be informed by data which reflect realities on the ground. Grassroot-level innovation can be enhanced by teacher participation in data collection and analysis. With proper training, teachers and school leaders can use data to assess their own practices and address challenges in their own schools. An example of innovation in data use came from The Gambia, where schools develop their own indicators and targets through a process of consultation that involves teachers, parents, students, and their communities.

Policies must balance clear frameworks with flexibility to respond to local conditions

Innovations in teacher policy presented during the Forum included establishing new forms of partnerships with civil society organizations and funding agencies. For instance, an innovative workshop organized by UNESCO and the TTF brought together policymakers from various countries to inform the development of St Kitts and Nevis’ National Teaching Council. Rather than imposing a ‘one size fits all’ approach, this process allowed policymakers to explore different types of national structures and the roles played amongst a number of high- and low-income countries before establishing their own National Teachers’ Council.

Teachers are essential to the innovation necessary to ‘build back better’ in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, their professionalism needs to be recognized and supported, and experimentation and adaptation must take place within clear policy frameworks. Governments, teacher training institutions, and other actors must balance structure and flexibility to foster both bottom-up (grassroots) and top-down (system-wide) innovations, so that they can contribute to ensure equitable, inclusive, and quality education for all.

Download the Final Report from the Policy Dialogue Forum on Innovation in teacher policy and practice in education recovery.

Photo credit: GPE/Alexandra Humme

Presentation
  • pdf
  • 17.12.2021

13th Policy Dialogue Forum - Resource Pack

The 13th Policy Dialogue Forum took place from 2-3 December 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda and on-line. Jointly organized by the TTF Secretariat, and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Rwanda, the...
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

Meeting document
  • pdf
  • 15.11.2021
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13th Policy Dialogue Forum - Programme

The 13th Policy Dialogue Forum will take place from 2-3 December 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda and on-line. Jointly organized by the TTF Secretariat, and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Rwanda...
Blog
  • 06.09.2021

Ensuring inclusion and equity in teacher policies and practices: A sustainable strategy for post-pandemic recovery

Authors: James O'Meara from ICET and Purna Shresta from VSO.

The Global Education Summit in July raised a record US$4 billion, which will help 175 million children learn. This stunning effort shows what is possible when governments work with the UN and other intergovernmental organizations, alongside development agencies and organizations from civil society and the private sector. Such cooperation will help us achieve the common objective envisaged in the fourth Sustainable Development Goal: ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Education that includes everyone and gives everyone a fair chance of learning is not possible without ensuring that everyone has access to quality teachers. It is crucial to implement policies and practices that promote inclusion and equity for teachers in every educational context, considering gender, socio-economic status, location, ability, and other factors that can lead to exclusion.

Ensuring that everyone has access to quality teachers requires significant levels of investment, especially in least developed countries and small island developing states. To ensure quality education for all by 2030, Sub-Saharan Africa – the region with the highest concentration of least developed countries – will need to recruit and prepare 15 million teachers.

Providing access to quality teachers for all requires:

Helping 175 million children learn moves us closer to the shared vision expressed in SDG4. The international education community will be able to maintain the momentum created by the Global Education Summit – and help to ensure quality teachers for all – at the 13th Policy Dialogue Forum and governance meetings of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030, which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, and online from December 1 to December 3, 2021. The meetings provide the ideal setting to come together again and invest in teachers now ­to ensure sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and prepare today’s learners for tomorrow.

Have your say in developing, implementing and assessing teaching policies

The Inclusion and Equity in Teacher Policies and Practices Thematic group is launching a series of online discussions – synchronous (September 2021) and asynchronous (October and November). The discussions are designed to allow you to get involved with shaping policies and practices that promote fair opportunities for all teachers. By sharing your knowledge, you can help bridge the growing gaps in teacher recruitment, preparation and deployment, which have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Your engagement in this inclusive policy dialogue will ensure teachers and their representative organizations have a greater voice in policy-making processes. You can participate in these discussions at a time and place convenient to you, increasing the diversity of perspectives on how to provide pathways into teaching for the underserved, vulnerable and underrepresented (including migrants, people with disabilities, indigenous people, ethnic minorities and the poor), closing the teacher numbers gap across the globe.


Details of the first synchronous session on September 24 will be posted on the TTF website. If you are already a TTF member, please visit the TTF website and join the Inclusion and Equity in Teacher Policies and Practices thematic group in the Member Space before the event so you can receive information on TTF events. If you are not a TTF member, please contact the coordinators of the thematic group: Purna Shrestha at purna.shrestha@vsoint.org or James O’meara at james.omeara@tamiu.edu.


Photo: The teacher and her students in a Rwanda primary school. Credit: GPE

Meeting document
  • pdf
  • 11.06.2020
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The Futures of Teaching - Final Report

This report summarizes the core thinking on the future of teaching discussed at the 12th Policy Dialogue Forum in Dubai in December 2019, drawing on examples of emerging approaches and good practice...