UNESCO IICBA Hosts Research Seminar on Teachers’ Contribution to Quality of Education in Africa

Beth Roseman, UNESCO/IICBA

On 4 December 2017, UNESCO IICBA hosted a research seminar with prominent scholars, African Union Commission (AUC) and Organization for Social Sciences Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA) representatives on Teachers’ Contribution to Quality of Education in Africa. Dr. Fay Chung, founder of UNESCO IICBA, former Minister of Education in Zimbabwe and founder of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) and Women’s University in Africa, Professor Steve Nwokeocha, Executive Director of African Federation of Teaching Regulatory Authorities (AFTRA), Dr. Beatrice Njenga, Head of Education Division, Human Resources, Science and Technology Department at the AUC, Mr. Matebu Taddese from OSSREA, and Dr. Moges Yigezu, Associate Professor of Linguistics at Addis Ababa University (AAU) were in attendance in addition to experts from UNESCO IICBA. Five research papers were read, which covered topics ranging from teacher motivation to teacher professionalization to peace and resilience building and prevention of violent extremism (PVE) and to capacity development.

The first presentation by Dr. Chung covered the ‘Dichotomy between the Right to Education for All and Education for a Modern Economy,’ using Zimbabwe as a case study. An African country’s modern economy may be very small or may only directly benefit a small percentage of the population. In such cases, what should be taught to students? How can students be prepared for a future, modernized economy and also be prepared for the economy of today? Dr. Chung discussed these questions and examined different aspects of the development of education systems. Next, Professor Nwokeocha presented on ‘Teaching Regulatory Agencies and Teacher Quality in Africa.’ Teaching regulatory agencies play a crucial role in professionalizing teaching, which helps to increase teacher quality. There are several forms and types of agencies highlighted in the paper along with obstacles and suggestions to regulating teaching in Africa. He stressed that professionalization leads to quality and that quality must be a consensus from all stakeholders.

In the afternoon, IICBA introduced its recent study on ‘Teacher Support and Motivation factors in Ethiopian Schools’ by program specialists Mr. Mame Omar Diop, Senior Program Specialist, and Dr. Binyam Sisay Mendisu, Program Officer, along with Dr. Moges Yigezu from AAU. Ethiopia has made tremendous strides in expanding schools and access to education. This required a large scale recruitment and employment of teachers, which potentially leads to a deterioration in the quality of teacher training or recruitment of unqualified teachers. The mixed research design study investigates intrinsic and extrinsic teacher motivation factors, patterns, and issues. Ms. Beth Roseman and Dr. Binyam followed with a presentation on ‘Capacity Building of Teachers for Quality Education: Critical Reflection on UNESCO-IICBA’s Decade Long Experience,’ which examined capacity development’s role in education and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals using IICBA as a case study.

The final presentation was given by Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of IICBA on ‘Peace and Resilience Building and Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) in Africa- the role of education and school teachers,’ a paper co-written with Ms. Eyerusalem Azmeraw, IICBA Project Officer. The presentation covered the PVE through education and role that teachers can play as change agents and peace builders inside and outside the classroom.

Overall, the research seminar was a great success. Participants engaged with new topics, exchanged ideas, and discussed challenges and new avenues for success in teachers’ contribution to quality education in Africa. The organizations present also had a chance to discuss future opportunities for collaboration. UNESCO IICBA will continue to share research with scholars and experts in the field, disseminate findings and hopes to make the Research Seminar an annual event.