Research around the world shows that the quality of teachers plays the most important role in the quality of education. Research also shows that high quality teacher education, both upfront or pre-service and on-going or in-service, plays a crucial role in teacher quality and teacher performance.
However, in many school systems around the world, teacher education efforts have by and large struggled to bring together quality, scale and sustainability. Barring a few exceptions, one comes across either very high quality programs that are restricted to small pockets or large scale programs with questionable impact, and sustainability is often a question-mark at both ends of this spectrum.
In this panel, we will try to discuss two things. One, we will ask the question “why”. Why is it that though teacher education is widely recognized as a crucial need and is seeing focus from several non-profits, for-profits and governments, large scale, high quality, sustainable efforts are so few in number? Among other reasons, some of our panellists believe that this is a classic example of market failure. In many emerging markets in particular, where regulation does not require teachers to regularly upgrade themselves, the average school has limited incentive to invest in teacher training and the individual teacher does not see any rewards associated with better competencies or performance. Therefore, teacher education efforts end up depending on a few progressive schools or donor grants or government funding for sustainability – all of which are insufficient and uncertain sources. This brings us to the second and bigger question that our panel will discuss. What could be ways to create more market demand for teacher training and link teacher education efforts better to market needs or “customers” who are willing to pay for quality? We will touch upon what teacher education entities themselves could do towards this, what schools and school systems could do, what role teacher certifying entities could play, and what role if any should be played by regulation.