In schools, teachers are what matter most. They remain the ‘most influential and powerful forces for equity, access and quality education and key to sustainable global development.’*
Whilst wide-ranging consensus on the critical role of teachers has been reached across the globe, what makes a person a more effective teacher than another, how to attract these very individuals into the profession, and how best to motivate and retain them once in post, remain more complex and contested issues. Teacher quality, status and working conditions all matter in the delivery of a quality education which is almost entirely dependent on effective, competent, well-supported and motivated teachers.
Improving teacher effectiveness is amenable to national policy, and governments across the world have implemented actions to this end. However, governments cannot take responsibility for real sustained change without the support of the wider global community. The G20 form some of the largest education systems globally and member countries fund a vast proportion of global education spending. Through their role as funders and influencers the G20 can play a critical role in developing and guiding a global teacher agenda.
This paper recommends the following actions to be considered by G20 education ministers:
- Improve teacher quality: The G20 should ensure that quality learning and teaching are a high priority within the G20 Agenda. This will require strengthening professional teaching standards and teacher professionalism through the involvement of educators and further developing a global framework on professional teaching standards
- Recruit and retain high quality teachers: Given persistent teacher shortages, particularly in developing countries, and the aging population of educators in many OECD and other countries, the G20 should consider ways in which they can prioritise the creation of a pool of teacher candidates that is more diverse and representative, particularly of disadvantaged communities, and work with other countries to prioritise this agenda.
- Motivate and support teachers: The G20 should encourage national governments to empower and support teachers to grow to be more effective by providing them with appropriate levels of autonomy and responsibility. This involves creating a career progression and appraisal framework with appropriate accountability mechanisms. Legitimacy and credibility can be afforded to teachers through professionalizing the cadre.
- Encourage and promote social dialogue: The G20 should foster and promote social dialogue amongst all actors in the education space including professional associations to build mutual trust and strong political will for policy implementation.
* www.unesco.org; Verger et al. (2013)