Teacher management: 9 topical questions


Teacher management is at the heart of the national strategies implemented to achieve the educational goals set by the international community. Indeed, teachers are a critical factor in the improvement of the quality of education. While the number of out-of-school children has been cut by almost half since 2000 and while the enrolment rate in sub-Saharan Africa has risen from 52% in 1990 to 78% in 2012 , a drop in the quality of education and in pupil performance has also been observed. SDG 4 highlights the importance of not focusing on quantity to the detriment of quality, stresses teaching quality and grants new importance to teachers (point 4.c). Teachers have the most decisive influence on learning. Their role appears all the more crucial as the quality of education explains differences in GDP growth among the poorest countries more than indicators such as differences in the average number of years of schooling (Bernard, 2007).

In this context, teacher management represents a significant challenge for developing countries striving since the 1990’s to cope with high additional needs for teachers. These countries have to supply a sufficient number of teachers with the necessary qualifications and skills and find a balance between salary expenditure, training costs and the quality of education delivered. The attractiveness of the profession and the salary offered are central to teacher management. However, in many developing countries, teacher pay has deteriorated or stagnated in comparison with other professions over the last two decades. Even in cases where remuneration is attractive compared to that of individuals with the same qualifications, it is often too low for teachers to have a decent standard of living.

Furthermore, while it is clear that a higher number of teachers is required, it is equally important for them to have the necessary competencies to ensure quality education. However, teacher-training models do not always guarantee the acquisition of those competencies.

A number of questions around teacher management are thus the subject of debate. The following summaries attempt to provide an overview of the current controversies and debates that frequently arise in the framework of IIEP-UNESCO’s work on teacher management.

Nine major questions are examined (or download the PDF):

  1. Why is teacher management so important?
  2. What are the links between pupil performance and teacher characteristics?
  3. What are the relationships between the academic level of teachers and pupils’ results?
  4. What are the relationships between the pre-service training of teachers and pupils’ results? 
  5. Should teachers’ working hours be increased or decreased?
  6. Teacher pay: how can it be analysed? How can it be compared?
  7. What are the major aspects to be taken into account in career organisation?
  8. Can teachers be evaluated on the basis of pupil performance?
  9. What can be learned from organisational audits on teacher management?