14th Teacher Policy Dialogue Forum: African Governments urged to prioritize the welfare of teachers

The 14th Teacher Policy Dialogue Forum, organized by the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 (Teacher Task Force), in partnership with the Ministry of Basic Education of the Republic of South Africa, was held in person from February 26–28, 2024, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The three-day forum was  followed by a governance session only for members of the Teacher Task Force on 29th February 2024.
This year's Forum examined common issues contributing to teacher shortages, how to address them through effective policies, and future transformative strategies to validate and reinforce the teaching profession. The theme of the Forum was "Addressing Global Teacher Shortages: Dignifying, Diversifying and Valorizing the Profession." The Forum was designed to unite international education stakeholders both in person and online. Its purpose was to facilitate the exchange of ideas, delve into policy options, and provide recommendations for ministries, civil society organizations, international bodies, and donors who are involved in supporting teachers, school leaders, teacher educators, and policymakers.
The first day of the Forum featured the launch of the inaugural Teacher Task Force & UNESCO Global Report on Teachers, focusing on addressing teacher shortages, transforming the teaching profession, and presenting the Recommendations of the UNSG High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession.
Launch of UN High Level Panel Recommendations
Susan Hopgood, Education International (EI) President , during the launch of  the Report of the UN High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession, stated that the UN has spoken with one voice, urging governments to act decisively to address the global education crisis by elevating and transforming the role and status of the teaching profession. She highlighted that for the well-being of students, our communities and our countries, governments must increase investment in public education systems and invest in teachers if we are to recruit and retain the qualified teachers our students need and deserve. In addition to investing in professionally competitive salaries and decent working conditions, the scourge of insecure work must be reversed. Trust in and respect for teachers and their professional expertise must be elevated to its rightful place. 
Global Consultation on the 2024/5 GEM Report  on Leadership and Education
Speaking at a side event at the Forum, EI Africa Regional Director, Dr Dennis Sinyolo highlighted the challenges facing school leadership in various African countries, which include a lack of adequate leadership training and professional development, limited support systems, excessive administrative burdens, insufficient infrastructure and educational resources, an examinations-focused curriculum that promotes teaching to the test, concerns over safety and security, a significant gender imbalance in school leadership positions, barriers and risks associated with union participation, political interference, and inadequate salaries and working conditions. These issues collectively hinder the effective functioning of school leaders and impact the overall quality of education in these contexts.
To address the challenges in school leadership, Sinyolo indicated that it was crucial to implement several key strategies. These include providing leadership training and preparatory programs, as well as recognizing and rewarding their successful completion. Countries like Zimbabwe and the Gambia have demonstrated positive examples in this regard. Additionally, offering free induction and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programs for school leaders can support their ongoing growth and effectiveness. 
Recognizing the significance of Education Support Personnel (ESP) and ensuring their role enables school leaders to focus on pedagogical leadership. Moreover, promoting teacher leadership through initiatives such as leading learning teams, such as Teacher Learning Circles, can harness the potential of teachers to exercise leadership. Encouraging collaboration, peer-to-peer learning, and exchange programs among school leaders and teachers can foster a supportive professional community. 
Lastly, improving the salaries and working conditions of school leaders, teachers, and ESP is crucial to attract and retain talented individuals in these roles. By implementing these measures, the quality of school leadership can be enhanced, positively impacting the overall educational experience, concluded Sinyolo. 
Valorizing the teaching profession and Teachers’ voice
On day two, Dr. Dennis Sinyolo, participated in breakout sessions where he highlighted the need to make teaching an attractive and first-choice profession by improving its status, teacher remuneration, and working conditions; to restore the dignity of the profession, respect and value teachers. He said that Education International and its member organizations - teacher unions - around the world work to advance and defend the professional status of teachers and promote quality public education for all. 
He furthermore added that EI achieves this through:
  1. Research, evidence generation and policy 
  2. Capacity building 
  3. Development, dissemination, and implementation of tools and frameworks 
  4. Networks, peer-to-peer learning  and exchange programs 
  5. Institutional engagement, social and policy dialogue 
Sinyolo recommended that Governments take immediate policy, legislative, and concrete measures to ensure institutionalized social and policy dialogue with teachers through their unions. 
“Successful social dialogue should result in the improvement of the salaries and working conditions of teachers, including the teaching and learning environment. Teachers should be involved in the conceptualization , development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of education policy and reforms, not just in their implementation’’, he concluded. 

[Thu, 28 Mar 2024 14:23:35 +0000] | DIGG THIS

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