Tue | Jul 14, 2020

Stop blaming the teaching profession – UNESCO official

Published:Tuesday | November 6, 2018 | 12:00 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer


Dr Claudia Uribe, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) director of the Regional Bureau for Education in Latin American and the Caribbean, has said the teaching profession is facing several challenges to include being blamed for students' failure.

According to Uribe, who was speaking at the 11th Annual Policy Dialogue Forum International Task force on Teachers for Education 2030 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Tuesday, teacher development is being impacted by the mushrooming of accountability regimes that tend to blame the teacher for the failure of learners and of education itself.

"This trend of shifting responsibility from the state on to the individual learners and teachers, and sometimes even families, have been accentuated by a recent claim of a learning crisis and by poor results in standard and large-scale testing," noted Uribe.

"Even though there is a legitimate concern with the quality of teaching, this alone cannot be construed as the sole reason for underperformance," said Uribe. "There is a need to examine structural factors like the funding of education, the quality of educational infrastructure and the learning environment, the curriculum and the educational materials, among other factors that depend on educational authorities and other factors apart from teachers.

"The same can be said about enhancing equity and inclusion in education, realising the pledge of leaving no one behind requires measures of both teacher development and education system change that are inter-connected," she added.


Well-trained and qualified


Uribe said countries around the world must move to make the teaching profession more attractive, and noted that the education sector should seek to recruit teachers who are highly motivated, well-trained and qualified to ensure inclusive, equitable and quality education for all.

"For example, making the teacher profession more attractive, elevating the status of the teacher trade as convened in the joint ILO/UNESCO recommendation concerning the status of teachers, and the UNESCO recommen-dations concerning the status of higher education, teaching personnel," stated Uribe.

"Even though a plethora of studies and reports have conclud-ed that teacher effectiveness has a direct impact on students' performance and well-being, and that teacher quality beyond the socio-economic conditions of students and the context of the educational process is the single most important in-school factor influencing student's achievement, teachers remain under-recognised and under-appreciated," added Uribe.

She said as a consequence of the lack of recognition and the fact that they are seldom consulted or get to participate in decision-making and policy formulation processes, the teaching profession is not one of the best carriers for the students going into tertiary education.