Teacher Education

“The school is located in the rural Meru so this has been a challenge to teachers because learners transfer mother tongue to written assignments. Initially the learners would not speak in class because the moment their colleagues laughed at their poor English, they shied away and gave up trying again. This has changed with the introduction of the ORELT modules in the classroom. The modules are very effective, the learners are motivated. Some of the activities given are playful and fun, and this makes them attempt to speak in class.”

Kenyan teacher from a poorly performing Constituency Development Fund funded school on the Open Resources for English Language Teaching (ORELT), Kenya, 2014


Teachers are critical to any education system and if the post-2015 development goals are to be achieved, then a lot will need to be done to address the many teacher education challenges still facing education systems, particularly in the developing world. If education is to play its role as a primary agent of transformation for sustainable development, countries need teachers that will help prepare learners to be involved in this transformation. However, there is still an enormous deficit of teachers across Commonwealth countries. For example, by 2020 Sub Saharan Africa alone will need 1,295,000 new teacher positions if Universal Primary Education (UPE) is to be achieved; and an additional 1,893,000 if Universal Lower Secondary Education (ULSE) is to be achieved (UNESCO – UIS 2013). Furthermore there is also a huge unmet need for teachers and trainers for the vocationalisation of secondary education. Apart from teacher numbers, the other major challenge is posed by the poor quality of teachers and teacher educators. The good progress towards UPE in many countries has often been at the expense of quality at this level. 

Addressing these challenges starts with teacher education. Improvements are needed in Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs), in the institutions’ capacity to train more teachers, in the capacity of teacher educators, and in the programmes and materials they deploy. Ensuring well qualified teachers and trainers in vocational subjects at secondary schools will lead to increased value and interest in vocational education and will contribute to national development and improved livelihoods for the school leavers. To achieve these improvements, teacher education needs innovation across the spectrum of teacher preparation, teacher deployment and teacher support. 

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) strives to "equip more teacher education institutions (TEIs) to deliver effective learning opportunities for sustainable development" and will therefore focuses on school-based, in-service models to increase the number of teachers trained and enhance the quality and development of teachers and teacher educators; with an additional focus on teacher educator development and the training of teachers for vocational subjects in secondary schools. COL supports TEIs and ministries of education to:

  • Revise/develop relevant and pedagogically sound programmes, including continuous professional development courses for teachers and teacher educators; and integrate ICTs and OER in the programmes. 
  • Improve institutional capacity to effectively use ODL methodologies and strategies to train more teachers and for the training of teachers of vocational subjects in secondary schools.
  • Improve institutional capacity to effectively use ICTs to expand and diversify access to teacher education programmes; and to enhance the quality of these programmes.
  • Revise/develop relevant policies and/or guidelines on integration of OER and ICTs in teacher education.
  • Collaboratively develop OER materials, and scale up the adoption/adaptation of available OER.
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