Accelerated Education: Recruiting, Maintaining, and Developing Quality Teachers
Teachers are a critical part of any quality Accelerated Education Program. They have similar responsibilities to teachers in the formal education system. However, Accelerated Education Program teachers require unique skills because of the unique circumstances of their students.
The Accelerated Education:10 Principles for Effective Practice, developed by the Accelerated Education Working Group, provides guidance on how to recruit, supervise, compensate and support AEP teachers. You can find some of the recommendations outlined below.
Establishing Qualifications and Recruiting
Collaborating with local partners, Accelerated Education Program managers must first define the skills, qualities and experience teachers need to have for a particular group of students. For example, ask questions like, “what languages do teachers need to speak, read and write?” and “what attitudes toward young people, girls, minorities, people with disabilities will be necessary?”
Once established, the recruitment process can begin. In this process, it’s recommended that you:
- Recruit from the community where students are from to foster a better rapport with them and ensure that language is not a barrier.
- Select teachers using a competency-based assessment to demonstrate their teaching skills and to learn more about their motivations for choosing an accelerated program.
- Ask teachers to prepare and teach a sample lesson in front of the recruitment committee.
- Seek a balance of female and male teachers. If there aren’t enough qualified female teachers, women can be considered for the role of assistant teachers while they work to achieve their teacher status through proper training and certification.
Once selected, ensure that the teachers are aware of child protection issues and agree on defined child safety and protection standards. You can also ask your teachers to sign a code of conduct so they can be held accountable for their behaviors.
Steady and Competitive Salaries
While many Accelerated Education Programs are run for shorter periods of time in order to meet the educational needs for a specific population of students, all education systems need programs that provide a safety net for children and youth to receive a quality education or re-enter the education system. It’s crucial that these teachers are paid regularly and offered a competitive salary. Several evaluations (by NGOs and UN agencies) of Accelerated Education Programs in South Sudan, Central Equatoria and Liberia, have seen high teacher turnover related to insufficient salary and erratic payments.
There are several ways to address this issue. One is to work with relevant authorities to ensure that AEP teachers are included on the official payroll. If the national government isn’t able to pay AEP teachers, then it’s critical to establish transparent mechanisms for payment at an early stage of the program.
To determine what salary is right for your program, start first by looking at the salaries of other jobs in the education sector. While you don’t want to actively recruit teachers away from other institutions, as this might cause tensions, you do need to be aware of the market. By pairing this information with the circumstances of your program, you can determine what salary is right for the context. Coordination with other donors, teacher unions and civil society is crucial to ensure a conflict-sensitive approach is taken.
Learn more about the 10 principles of AEPsGet the Guide to the Accelerated Education Principles
For instance, in Afghanistan, the organization Children in Crisis runs an Accelerated Education Program. In this program, teachers are paid more than double what normal state school teachers receive on a monthly basis. This is because the program struggles to maintain the level of quality necessary to ensure children and youth make up lost school time.
The high salary, along with transportation incentives for female teachers, is believed to be the reason why the program is able to attract and retain qualified and experienced female teachers. This is particularly important in a country where the acute shortage of qualified female teachers is seen by development partners and the Ministry of Education as a significant barrier to girls’ equal participation in schooling.
Investing in Professional Development
Professional development is key to maintaining accelerated education teachers. First, it helps prepare them for the unique challenges and approaches necessary to successfully teach accelerated learning programs. Second, it can provide another benefit, on top of salary, to keep teachers on the job.
An example from Kenya illustrates these ideas well. In the Dadaab refugee camps of Northern Kenya, home to more than 235,000 refugees and asylum seekers, RET International runs an Accelerated Education Program that targets youth aged 16 to 35. RET, in collaboration with the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development, conducted a feasibility and teacher needs assessment study, that was used to develop a teacher training and professional development program.
Despite using different approaches to build the identified priority teacher skills, RET still grappled with the challenge of high teacher turnover. Refugee teachers are often resettled to another country or are recruited by other organizations into better-paying jobs. To mitigate these challenges, RET provides annual training on Accelerated Education Pedagogy. Whenever possible, the Accelerated Education Program coordinates with teacher training institutes and national teacher training structures, so teachers can develop nationally recognized knowledge and skills. This is a key contribution to strengthening the teacher workforce over the long-term.
Talk more about this topic with USAID’s Accelerated Education expert by emailing Nina Weisenhorn at email@example.com.