Recap: re:learn September Meetup – Addressing the Skills Shortage in Education

Last week Thursday, over 20 education and technology professionals participated in the September edition of the re:learn meetup. Our discussion was around the shortage of skills in the education space.

Here is a recap with highlights from the meetup.

The Problem:

According to the latest projection by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), in order to reach the 2030 global education goal, countries must recruit 69 million teachers, to provide every child with primary and secondary education. Of this figure, 24.4 million will be needed to teach primary school and 44.4 million at the secondary school level.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the teacher gap is widest, as 17 million primary and secondary school teachers will be required by 2030. This accounts for about 25% of the global requirements. A major contributing factor is the high rate of population growth, of children that fall in that demographic. Currently, more than 70% of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are affected by huge shortages of primary school teachers, and as high as 90% for secondary school teachers.

Consequently, Nigeria has a high teacher to student ratio, ranging between 1:78 and 1:134, against the recommended ratio of 1:40. This ultimately causes a strain on available teachers, while reducing the quality of learning for their students.

Quality vs Quantity:

Undoubtedly, there is a huge need that requires filling, however, the quality of teacher matter as much as the quantity. Factors such as training and qualification, coupled with the style of delivery in the classroom were identified as some of the measurable indicators of teacher quality. An interesting outcome from the discussion was the UNICEF survey conducted in over 50 countries, and with over 500 children on what makes a good teacher.

Key motivating factors to improve the quality of teachers include upgrading the training quality in Colleges of Education and Universities, remuneration and clear opportunities for career growth.

The Way Forward:

Bridging the teacher gap is a priority, and necessary for preparing the next, and future generations for the challenges and opportunities of this century. Some of the key areas for improvement around teacher training and engagement included:

– raising the professional standards for teachers
– improving salaries and working conditions for teachers
– reinventing teacher preparation, with the gradual shift from manual documentation of lesson notes, and increasing professional development opportunities,
extra funding for the sector apprenticeships and internships to foster hands-on classroom experience for teachers

While these challenges exist, they also present the opportunity to identify innovative ways of bridging the education gap. At re:learn, one of the ways to address this, is through the re:learn Trainers’ Network – a network of individuals who are passionate about education and technology. We’ll be sharing more about our network in the following weeks.

October is Here!

This month, we’ll be looking at different ways technology is disrupting education in Africa. Learn more and RSVP to join the discussion here.

The re:learn meetup is a growing community of education and technology professionals, volunteers, school administrators and other stakeholders, who are committed to improving access and quality of education in Nigeria.

Do you know any individual or organisation doing something interesting in the Edtech space? Spread the word, we’d love to have them join our growing community!