Valuing Teachers

Valuing Teachers

Teachers are fundamental to achieving quality education for all. But poor salaries, inadequate training, management and working conditions are forcing many teachers to leave the profession.

VSO's Valuing Teachers research exposes the motivations and challenges affecting teachers in developing countries, and shows what we can do for teachers that will improve education for all.

Teachers are fundamental to achieving quality education for all. Without teachers, new classrooms and new textbooks are useless. 

More than 57 million children still cannot go to school. Whilst great efforts have been made to increase the primary school enrolment rate in developing countries, similar effort and investment has not been made towards teacher recruitment, training and retention.

Primary school teachers in Africa are paid as little as US$25 a month – officially living well below the poverty line. Yet teachers in many countries are expected to teach classes of over 100 pupils, and work 12-hour days.

Listening to teachers’ voices

VSO's ‘Valuing Teachers' research, completed in 15 countries, has identified the following key messages:

  1. The role of head teachers is crucial for improving teacher motivation and for improving learning outcomes for girls and boys. Therefore, the introduction of management training for school leaders should be prioritised.
  2. Management of education has many dimensions, but the biggest investment of funds and human resources has always been and should always be in teachers. It is vital that governments and donors prioritise teacher management.
  3. The quality of teacher training dictates the quality of teaching. Moves to reduce the length and quality of pre-service training to cut costs are damaging the quality of teaching and learning.
  4. Gender and inclusion should be addressed in teacher management and training systems. This is to ensure that there are a representative number of positive role models for girls, boys, children with disabilities and other excluded groups. This will also allow teachers to enjoy equal pay and conditions and will improve learning outcomes for girls and children from excluded groups. 

What action has VSO taken?

Besides making available this broad body of research on teacher motivation and attitudes, VSO has used the lessons from Valuing Teachers in a series of successful advocacy initiatives and won significant victories for teachers. Valuing Teachers continues to inform our work:

  • VSO Nepal's national advocacy campaign has led to improvements in pre-school education and textbook delivery in rural areas and changes in government policy. This includes increased pay and new life insurance for teachers, the introduction of positive discrimination in teacher recruitment and promotion to increase the numbers of female, disabled and minority teachers and head teachers. These changes were responses to recommendations made in Nepal’s 2005 report: Lessons FromThe Classroom, and the result of months of coordinated lobbying by VSO staff, volunteers and partners.
  • VSO Mozambique's DFID-funded Valuing Teachers report: Listening to Teachers was presented to the high level advisory body of the Ministry of Education and Culture, donors and other stakeholder in January 2008. As a result of the study VSO Mozambique supported the national Department of Human Resources within the Ministry of Education to assess needs and priorities, particularly in terms of training, capacity building and developing a national HR strategy for education.
  • Placing volunteers within civil society education coalitions, assisting them with using the Valuing Teachers finding to lobby for change and increase voice in policy making processes
  • Forming partnerships with teachers’ unions around the world, with the aim of increasing their capacity to engage in education policy dialogues and negotiate better terms for education workers
  • Working closely with gender and disadvantaged peoples’ representative groups, including those focused on networks of people with disabilities, Dalits (often viewed as “outcasts” in Hindu society), ethnic minorities or people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS, in order to improve education outcomes and representation
  • Working with Ministries of Education to improve their responsiveness to civil society engagement in public dialogue, including the placement of volunteers in Ministries.                                                                                                                      

Where has Valuing Teachers research been completed?