Improvement of working and employment conditions for teachers

Human resource development underpins the development of effective educational systems.

The necessity of prioritizing human resource development in educational systems cannot be overemphasized. Among the strategies for action that will contribute directly to an improvement of the quality of education is a sustained investment in the professional development of teachers and the improvement of their working and employment conditions. The status of teachers and the status of education are closely related. Teachers can only be the catalysts for change in the movement against child labour if they are supported in the process of improving their work with children in the classroom.

Their credibility among parents and community members and the all-important trust in their concern for the welfare of children and the community is closely tied to their ability to provide the quality of education that parents seek for their children. Thus, there is a direct relation between the investment in teacher training and the improvement of their working and employment conditions and the effectiveness of mobilizing teachers and educators in the fight against child labour.

In order to enable teachers to carry out their work adequately, the following measures need to be taken:

  • attracting a sufficient number of able and motivated people to the profession;
  • increasing salaries to become properly relative to those paid to other professionals in equivalent occupations and the provision of incentives such as health insurance, retirement and pension plans, and housing or suitable accommodation and transportation allowances for those who work in remote rural communities;
  • provision of basic facilities in classrooms, adequate equipment, learning materials and supplies and maintenance of school buildings;
  • reasonable and manageable class sizes or the implementation of alternative staffing patterns, for example, teacher-aides;
  • adequate pre-service and continuing education to equip teachers to provide quality education;
  • provision of adequate supervision and support for teachers by training supervisors, setting up accountability mechanisms and organizing group-learning schemes for teachers and supervisors;
  • involving teachers in the development and reform of educational policies and programmes.

A paradigm shift in teacher education and training is called for that focuses on the development of “reflective practitioners” who can be active participants in their own learning processes as professionals and critical of their own teaching practices. Simply transmitting information to teachers and expecting them to implement changes or innovations in the curriculum is insufficient. They need to be involved in planning educational reform and contribute their insights based on their experience, deepen their understanding of theories and apply them to their daily practices in their work with children.

The shortage of teachers and the resulting problem within public school systems to cope with the demands of the growing child population in developing countries in general has been cited frequently. Up to one-third of teachers in some countries have no formal teaching qualification. Thus, there is an urgent need to ensure that a large number of unqualified or seriously under-qualified teachers are fully trained and upgraded both academically and pedagogically.

High quality education means that teachers must be trained and confident in children-centred teaching approaches and methods, and skilled in classroom management and in evaluating learning. Teacher training is a feature of a number of IPEC projects and programmes, including the Time-Bound Programme in the United Republic of Tanzania.