Amman / Cairo, May 30, 2006 - Formulas to advance the quality of education in the Arab World by focusing on teacher training and professional qualifications was the subject of a first League of Arab States (LAS) - UNICEF expert meeting in Cairo. According to UNESCO, the Arab region needs to train an additional 450,000 teachers by 2015.
The meeting at LAS also discussed means of establishing centers of excellence in for the professional development of teachers. Experts emphasized the need to build on existing national efforts to re-define the common elements required to achieve teacher excellence in school leadership and strategies for ongoing professional development and support. LAS Secretary General Amre Moussa said “We are facing an enormous development challenge in this region that can only be handled by reforming our educational systems”.
The event took place in partnership with UNESCO, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO). At a later stage the World Bank, UNDP and the International Labour Organisation are expected to join the project.
Re-assessing the human rights angle
Aside from extensive research showing the links between developing teachers’ skills and improved student learning outcomes, the human rights aspect of quality education has been emphasized in several global and regional conferences such as the Dakar 2000 World Education Forum, the Beirut 2003 conference on quality education, the 2004 Education For All conference in Cairo and this year's Arab Summit in Khartoum. The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) included the concept of quality education into their goals and international development targets.
“Quality education supports a rights-based approach to all educational endeavours. It is indispensable for the exercise of all other human rights and for development”, said UNICEF MENA Regional Education Adviser Dr. Malak Zaalouk. "Quality professional development is fundamental to quality teaching and learning. Good teachers form the foundation of good schools, and improving teachers' skills and knowledge is one of the most important investments our societies can make in education", said Dr Zaalouk.
From a gender perspective, the lack or woman teachers in rural and remote areas in the region is discouraging girls' participation in the classroom and undermining their motivation to complete schooling. "Rural girls in many Arab countries do not have positive role models, such as woman teachers, who could stand as an example of the opportunities that open up to educated women and attract girls to school", Dr. Zaalouk added.
The experts meeting also agreed on the need to activate the propose Arab educational strategy presented by ALECSO and foster partnerships with regional and national bodies to expand capacity building for teachers and identify solutions to remaining challenges like teachers salaries, and the quality of curricula and didactic materials being made available in remote and/or conflict-ridden areas. UNICEF will be working on quality assurance mechanisms while UNESCO will create a portal for teachers in the region and complete studies on teacher education and development. All partners agreed to seek to build the capacity of institutions promoting and developing the teaching profession.
For further information, please contact:
M. Anis Salem, Regional Communication Adviser, UNICEF MENA-RO
E-mail :email@example.com Mobile: 962-79-557-9991
Wolfgang Friedl, Communication Officer UNICEF MENA-RO,
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 962 – 79 – 573-2745