Public school teachers in Brazil, Indonesia or Peru have stable jobs, enjoy high level of legal protection, and are part of teacher unions that shield them politically. Public school teachers in Finland also have stable jobs and are rarely fired. They are represented by a powerful teacher union, which is very influential among other stakeholders in policy discussions. Why do student learning outcomes among these countries vary dramatically?
En el salón de clases, junto con sus compañeros de sexto grado, Yudeisy nos cuenta que a ella lo que más le gusta hacer durante el día es ver videos y tutoriales en YouTube. También le gusta usar la computadora y el celular porque puede ver videos de música, clips de influencers y entrevistas con sus artistas favoritos. Ella, junto con sus otros compañeros de sexto grado en una escuela pública primaria en Santo Domingo, han participado en un piloto durante los últimos cuatro meses para reforzar el aprendizaje de las matemáticas usando software adaptado al nivel de matemáticas de cada estudiante.
In the classroom, along with her sixth-grade classmates, Yudeisy tells us that what she likes doing the most during the day is watching videos and tutorials on YouTube. She also likes to use her computer and cell phone because she can watch music videos, influencers' clips and interviews with her favorite artists. Yudeisy, along with her classmates in a public elementary school in Santo Domingo, is part of a four-month pilot to reinforce mathematics using software that adapts to the math level of each student.
More than one billion people around the world experience some form of disability. Individuals with disabilities have, on average, poorer health, lower levels of employment and earnings, and higher poverty rates. Children with disabilities are especially at a disadvantage when it comes to enrolling and completing school but also how much they learn while in school. This is especially acute in Sub-Saharan Africa, where our latest research, The Challenge of Inclusive Education in Africa, shows that disability gaps in education are increasing.
Cuando tenía 13 años, mi profesora de literatura, Estela, propuso a la clase el siguiente ejercicio: observar dos dibujos y escribir una historia sobre cada uno de ellos. Miré los dibujos: uno era de un hombre con traje y corbata que cargaba un maletín y usaba un lindo reloj. El otro era del mismo hombre, pero tenía barba crecida, ropa rasgada y zapatos gastados. Escribí la primera historia sobre un hombre exitoso con una familia increíble, y la segunda sobre un hombre pobre, triste y sin amigos. Estela pareció decepcionada y me preguntó si las personas se definen por su ropa. Ese día, mi profesora habló sobre prejuicios y yo aprendí algo que no olvidaré jamás.
When I was 13, my literature teacher Estela asked the class to look at two drawings and write down a story about each one them. I looked at the drawings: one was of a man in a suit and tie who was carrying a suitcase and wearing a watch. The other was of the same man but he had a beard, torn clothes and broken shoes. I wrote the first story about a successful man with an amazing family, the second about a poor, sad man who had no friends. Estela seemed disappointed and asked me if people are defined by their clothes. That day, my teacher spoke about prejudices and I learned something that I won’t forget.
En todos los países hay maestros dedicados y entusiastas que enriquecen y transforman la vida de millones de chicos. Son héroes silenciosos que suelen no estar entrenados, no tener materiales didácticos adecuados, o no recibir reconocimiento por su trabajo. Son héroes que desafían las estadísticas y hacen posible que los chicos aprendan con alegría, rigor y propósito.
In every country, there are dedicated and enthusiastic teachers who enrich and transform the lives of millions of children. Silent heroes who often lack proper training, teaching materials and are not recognized for their work. Heroes who defy the odds and make learning happen with passion, creativity and determination.
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Countries with the best education outcomes are those in which society places high value on the teaching profession. That value is reflected in the relationship between the state, society, and the teacher; in the support given to teachers (including reasonable salaries), in the trust placed in them; and in the recognition bestowed upon them by society, parents, and the community as well as the value they place on the tremendous responsibility that they bear.
In many ways, Ethiopia’s teacher Continuous Professional Development program is an education specialist’s dream: teachers regularly collaborate with peers, they are mandated to complete 60 hours of professional learning every year, and in some regions, they receive promotions based on performance in the classroom. The structure mirrors many aspects of international best practice and yet the system falters, primarily because it is missing a key ingredient: content.