Building new modes of teacher education: research analyses for the Teacher in Education in Sub Saharan Africa programme

Wolfenden, Freda (2008). Building new modes of teacher education: research analyses for the Teacher in Education in Sub Saharan Africa programme. In: BERA Annual Conference 2008, 3-6 Sep 2008, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK.



The provision of basic education for all children by 2015 is now one of the world’s major educational objectives. Through UNESCO’s Education for All (EFA) commitments and the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) national and international attention has been focussed on measures to achieve this end. There has been some progress. The number of school age children with no access to schooling is dropping (from x to y in the period 1999–2005?). There is, however, some way to go in terms of the basic provision and the gender parity that the MDGs seek to achieve.
Most significantly attention has now turned to the challenge of providing sufficient teachers of the appropriate quality to staff such rapid expansion. The focus of enquiry of this proposed keynote symposium is the ways in which different forms of research are contributing to:
• analyses of factors impacting on teacher supply and retention;
• developing conceptual understanding of the ‘life’ experiences of teachers working in challenging circumstances, with a special emphasis on female teachers in rural communities;
• evidence about the nature and effectiveness of new modes of education and training.
The symposium papers will explore the different research and investigative methodologies being drawn on and the different forms of international co-operation and collaboration being used. The papers will explore the issues of teacher supply, retention and education through educational and development studies, theories of change and intervention. A key issue the symposium will address is the need to bring together theoretically and through research practice the related separate specialist domains of education and development enquiry. In doing this the papers will provide a new patterning or mapping of the literature.
The five papers draw particularly on the work of UNESCO, including the widely respected annual monitoring reports evaluation the progress to EFA and the new Teacher Training in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) initiative (see One of the papers will look at the research around teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa by reference to developing country contexts in other parts of the world.
It has been argued that the challenge to provide schooling and teachers for the children of Sub-Saharan Africa represents the world’s biggest educational challenge (Moon, 2007). In identifying key research findings, for example significant variables impacting on teacher supply and retention, the relationship between teacher quality and pupil achievement and comparative evidence on the effectiveness of different modes of education and training, the symposium will point to the ways in which researchers in the field of education and the research community generally can contribute to increasing capacity in this enormously important area.

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