The quality of education is only as good as the quality of the teachers. This is why improving the quality of teacher training is a priority for us.
Too often, however, there is inadequate investment in the training and management of teachers. In the countries where we work, training is often poor and a large proportion of teachers – especially at primary level – are untrained. Even worse, the terms and conditions of employment are unattractive and uncompetitive. The consequence is that teaching does not attract the brightest and the best and many of those who are capable quickly move on to something that is better paid. Becoming a teacher is simply the first step on a career ladder that quickly leads away from school – leaving teaching as a low status, poorly paid short-term job.
In contrast, we believe it is essential to invest in teaching – in training, in teaching materials, in management support and in professional development. We need to expand the numbers of teachers so that class sizes are reduced, and to support initiatives that will create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, especially one that includes far more women.
With more and better trained teachers it is more realistic to adopt an approach to teaching that is much less focused on memory, rote learning and passive methods. In their place more child-centred approaches may be adopted, with individual work balanced by group learning. A stronger emphasis on active learning will lay the foundations for learning characterised by independent thought, problem-solving, better communication skills and one that can accommodate the different needs of different learners. In this way, education is not just about passing exams – though we recognise that is important in all parts of the world – but about giving young people the ability, knowledge and confidence to participate more fully at home, in their village or community, and at a national level.