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Educação & Sociedade

Print version ISSN 0101-7330On-line version ISSN 1678-4626

Educ. Soc. vol.29 no.104 Campinas Oct. 2008

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0101-73302008000300008 

EDUCATION E SOCIETY

 

The role of new communication technologies and distance education in responding to the global crisis in teacher supply and training: an analysis of the research and development experience*

 

 

Bob Moon

Faculty of Education and Language Studies, Department of Education, The Open University (United Kingdom). E-mail: r.e.moon@open.ac.uk

 

 


ABSTRACT

This paper explores the major problem facing all societies to attract, retain and train teachers, particularly where school systems are expanding rapidly. The characteristics of the 'teacher crisis' will be examined by reference to global evidence, giving particular attention to key locations in Africa and Asia. This context then provides the framework for analysing a range of research and development programmes that seek to harness new communication technologies and distance education to meet the scale of the challenge posed.

Key words: New communication technologies. Distance education. Teacher supply. Teacher training. Open educational resources.


 

 

INTRODUCTION

Everyone remembers a good teacher. Such people exist in many guises. Teachers can be inspirational, conscientious, caring, and often dedicated. A chosen few are lucky enough to exhibit all of these characteristics and more. In all societies the teacher is a figure who attracts myths, stories, memories. Strong emotions surround the teacher role: trust, deference, love and sometimes fear. In rural communities the village schoolteacher along with a priest, a mayor, an elder, traditionally provided a moral compass that provided a mediation between newly emergent states and the communities they sought to join together.

In the early years of the twenty first century these folklorique ideas about 'the teacher' are under challenge. In many parts of the world the vocation of teaching exhibits the traits of a crisis. All but a few countries are struggling to recruit sufficient teachers. In some regions (sub-Saharan Africa would be an example) the problems of recruiting, retaining and training teachers is an acute problem. This paper will examine the form that this crisis takes, looking in particular about the organisational and logistical challenges associated with providing adequate education and training for the millions of new teachers needed by expanding education systems. A particular focus will be given to developing world contexts where significant international efforts are being made to overcome what could be termed the world's biggest educational challenge. The paper will also examine the research and development experience of a range of open and distance learning programmes with particular reference to the emergent role of new information and communication technologies, including 'open educational resources' (OERs).

 

THE CHALLENGE TO RECRUIT AND RETAIN TEACHERS

Attracting young or mature people into teaching is a major challenge. In many countries of the world supply does not meet demand. The situation in sub-Saharan Africa has been described as a crisis (Dladla and Moon, 2006) and at least one country, Burkina Faso, has officially declared the supply of teachers a 'national' crisis. The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania to the first meeting of national coordinators for UNESCO's Teacher Training Initiative for sub-Saharan Africa (7-9 March 2006, Dakar, Senegal) reported that teaching in the United Republic of Tanzania was in crisis (Mhando, 2006). Even where progress towards full enrolment is good, users of quality are beginning to emerge. India, for example, had achieved more than 93% enrolment in primary school among 6-14 year olds by 2005, yet a study of more than 330,000 children in 9,500 villages revealed that 35% could not read a small paragraph with short sentences at standard I level and 40% of children at standard V could not read a standard II level text (a simple story). In mathematics, 50% of standard II-V children in government primaries could not solve a two-digit subtraction problem and in standard VI-VIII of government schools 40% could not solve a simple division problem (three digits by one digit) (Gandhi Kingdon, 2007).

These problems, however, are not confined to developing countries. In California thousands of unqualified teachers are working in the elementary system. A special school-based training scheme has had to be developed with new state funds by California State University. In Europe shortages of specialist secondary teachers, for example in mathematics and science, are acute. To understand something of the scale of the problem societies face it is useful to look in more detail at two regions in Africa and Asia.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Internationally, nearly all countries have signed up to the UNESCO and UN commitments to achieve universal primary education for all children by 2015. Few of the declarations, including the declaration of the World Forum in Dakar in 2000 or the Millennium Development Goals explicitly recognize the importance of teachers to achieving this. This was recognized in the position paper produced for the recent launch of UNESCO's Teacher Training Initiative for sub-Saharan Africa.

It is only now that people are starting to listen to those who saw the shortage of qualified teachers as a major impediment to national development and that national and international authorities are beginning to realize that the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All objectives depends on the training of professionals capable of the long-term effort to promote education effectively, in particular through the training of teachers and managerial staff in the education system. (p. 2)

The Report of the Commission for Africa (2005) made investment in teacher training a major recommendation and in doing so said: "(…)" the push to achieve EFA will certainly never succeed without substantial investment in teacher recruitment, training, retention and professional development. (p. 186)

The scale of need, however, is daunting (see M. Dembele and Bé Rammaj Miaro-ll, 2003). Successive reports have pointed to the large numbers of unqualified teachers in schools and the difficulty of attracting new recruits. A survey of 11 eastern and southern African countries by UNESCO (2000) indicated that one-third of existing primary teachers were untrained. Lewin (2002) has documented the shortfall in trained teachers that has arisen, and will become greater, if expansion to meet EFA targets continues.

Two factors in particular appear to be impacting on the teaching profession in most sub-Saharan African countries. First, the decline in salaries relative to other comparable professions has been well documented (Colclough et al., 2003). Emergent knowledge economies offer alternative employment opportunities for those who provided the traditional pool of primary teachers. Second, HIV/AIDS is impacting on the existing and potential teaching force. UNICEF (2000) has estimated that nearly a million children a year lose their teacher to HIV/AIDS.

A recent South African report (Education in Labour Relations Council, 2005) drew attention to its finding with the eye-catching headline "A teacher dies every two hours". In Kenya more teachers are dying of AIDS annually than the output of the teacher training institutions (Rémy, 2002). In Zambia HIV/AIDS claims the lives of 2000 teachers a year, again more than the output of the teacher training colleges (McGreal, 2005). A study in Namibia (Melaney, 2000) has shown that where the supply of new teachers remains constant at 1000 the shortfall of teachers with the impact of HIV/AIDS calculated in will be 7,161 by 2010. And this statistic, as in many parts of Africa, does not reveal significant in-country regional disparities. In Namibia, for example, particularly high infection rates exist in the northern regions of Odangwa East and Odangwa West. Predictably these are areas with the largest class sizes and 80 per cent of the total population of Namibia (Melaney, op. cit.). The issue of the impact of HIV/AIDS on teachers has provoked some controversy (see Bennett, 2005). Whatever the scale of the impact, however, it is clear that the pandemic is influencing the working conditions of teachers significantly (see Boler, 2003).

In looking at the pressures on teachers in sub-Saharan Africa the problems of corruption in public services needs mentioning. There is very little data specifically in respect of teachers but where that exists it points to further financial constraints on teachers' lives. In Kenya, for example, Transparency International (2006) has produced evidence to show that bribery around teacher placements and transfers is rampant.

In this challenging context, the word "crisis" is beginning to be used. In Burkina Faso the teacher shortage has been declared a national emergency and people are being recruited from across the public sectors to fill the immediate gaps (Commission for Africa Report, 2005). In some countries (Sudan would be an example) a year or two teaching is now an alternative to compulsory military service.

Overall estimates of the numbers of additional teachers needed in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015 are difficult to establish. Similarly, estimates of the total numbers of unqualified teachers are problematic to establish (not the least because countries use different definitions of what constitutes a "qualified" teacher). The Global Campaign for Education (2006), working from UNESCO data, estimates that 14-22.5 million extra teachers will be needed globally to achieve EFA (the number depends on target pupil teacher ratios) and many more serving teachers urgently need education and training. For this reason, the Education for All Monitoring Report (UNESCO, 2005) gave prominence to teachers:

Achieving UPE alone calls for more and better trained teachers. Countries that have achieved high learning standards have invested heavily in the teaching profession. But in many countries teachers' salaries relative to those of other professions have declined over the last two decades and are often too low to provide a reasonable standard of living. Training models for teachers should be reconsidered in many countries to strengthen the school-based pre- and in-service training rather than rely on lengthy traditional, institutional pre-service training. (p. 3)

Sub-Saharan Africa suffers additionally from two problems that occur elsewhere in the world, but not on the same scale. The first is teacher migration. Europe and North America are actively recruiting graduate level teachers from a range of African countries. The best and most experienced teachers are often the first to go, and investment in training reaps benefits elsewhere. Little robust data exists on teacher migration, but as mobility costs drop it appears to be an increasing problem.

The second problem relates to the millions of teachers being recruited who are effectively para-professionals. The Global Campaign for Education (2006) sees this as in part a consequence of financial restrictions:

The education system in West Africa is increasingly the domain of "para-teachers", with pre-service training of only a few months or even weeks. This is a direct attack on the quality education which all aspire and are entitled to. With the teacher crisis, quality has often been a hostage of quantity. The trend is to recruit as many teachers as possible, even if they do not have the necessary qualifications in order to respond to expanding enrolment. (p. 27)

It is also important to remember the very large class sizes that many teachers, trained or untrained, have to face. In countries such as Mali, Ethiopia and Mozambique, pupil-teacher ratios exceed 55:1. Botswana, Ghana and Namibia are in the range of 25-34:1. In the Republic of Congo it is 83:1 (UNESCO, 2008). Actual class sizes, however, may be much larger, as in most countries rural schools can be very small, with a consequent impact on the overall ratio. Similarly, the total number of unqualified teachers is problematic to estimate (not least because countries use different definitions of what constitutes a 'qualified' teacher).

South and West Asia

A recent study by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UNESCO, 2006) indicates that South and West Asia is facing a looming teacher shortage in the drive to provide every child with primary education by 2015 … the region will need an additional 3.5 million teachers by 2015 in order to meet expansion goals and to replace existing teachers. The table below shows this in respect of primary education:

 

Click to enlarge

 

Some countries face particular challenges. In Afghanistan, the school-age population will grow by 34 per cent over the next decade with a consequent huge demand for teachers (current pupil:teacher ratios are 65:1). Pakistan is likely to have 10 per cent more pupils by 2015 yet today 34 per cent of primary-age children are out of school.

Macdonald (1999) has pointed to the lack of data (and nature of the data) about teachers in the region. Defining qualification levels, for example, appear particularly elusive. But even if the qualification level is low, large numbers of teachers do not meet national requirements. In Nepal 25 per cent of teachers are not certificated. This figure is 30 per cent in the Maldives and 18 per cent in Bangladesh. Nilsson points to the low numbers of female teachers in many of the countries of the region and the impact of this on girls' enrolment in schooling. As in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS is also impacting on the teaching workforce although detailed data is difficult to find. The consequences, however, for teachers raises issues for teacher policy of a new and unique kind. As Nilsson points out:

Most HIV-infected persons remain clinically healthy for several years after their infection, but their immune system will gradually be destroyed leading to periods of illness, followed by periods of relatively good health. Infected teachers are often able to teach during the periods of good health but are absent during the illness periods, which tend to come more often and last longer towards the end of the disease. According to estimations from the World Bank, an infected teacher is likely to be unable to teach for a total of 260 days before dying of AIDS. Also, the time spent to care for sick relatives and to attend funerals have consequences on teachers' attendance in schools. (p. 148)

In summary terms the problem of teacher supply, in most parts of the world, has grown in recent decades. The manifestation of this problem varies geographically and, in some contexts, the problem is a crisis of huge significance. Within the overall problem of supply, however, are a number of sub-issues, the interplay of which is important for policy. These include:

• the retention of qualified teachers, i.e. the turnover rate;

• the age profile of teachers;

• the subject specialism of teachers, both primary and secondary;

• the gender balance of teachers in different sectors;

• the migration of teachers between different countries (viz. Southern Africa).

 

CREATING THE "POLICY CONDITIONS" FOR CHANGE

A number of recent studies have looked at global trends in teacher education. Moon and others (2003) have done this for the UNESCO Europe region. Morris and Williamson (2000) have done this for the Asia-Pacific region.

The first general point to make about these studies is that almost all of them report that the last decade has witnessed an unprecedented array of legislative, regulatory, or other governmental activity directed at teacher education. This activity takes a variety of forms, but overall, the impression is gained that more policy attention has been given to teacher education in the 1990s than in the hundreds of years of history that preceded it. And most of the activity has focused around quality. Much of the latter part of the last century was concerned with creating institutional structures that could provide for the large number of teachers required by mass, compulsory primary, and secondary schools. As the century closed, increasingly high expectations had been established about what teachers should know and be able to practise at the moment of qualification.

A second point is that almost all the activity has focused on pre-service education. In-service education, increasingly referred to as continuing professional development (cpd), remains in most countries at a much lower level of policy interest, with provision often uncoordinated and poorly provided with resources (Villegar-Reimer, 2001). There are some exceptions, and new models of organization are being explored but, overall, the studies reveal a number of major concerns around this question.

One of the major challenges facing teacher education in many countries is to provide a stable policy basis for development. Lewin (2002) following a series of well reported research studies in the region concluded that policy on teacher education is fragmented, incomplete and, more often than not, simply underdeveloped. In this context some key problem areas frequently go unaddressed. Six in particular are pertinent to restructuring the policy conditions around teacher education.

The first is the way resources are directed to long, three- or four-year, courses that produce only a minority of the teachers required. In some contexts, therefore, whilst such a minority receives considerable support a parallel process is taking place to recruit significantly more unqualified teachers into the school system.

The second is the way in which primary teachers use qualification as a means to either enter other forms of employment or graduate to secondary teaching. Significant resources are being devoted to "primary teacher upgrading" without any hope of a return in terms of an improved quality of teaching in schools. This is an issue that touches more widely on policy around teacher salaries and incentives but the impact on the effectiveness of education and training can be huge.

Third, and following from the above point, teacher status, particularly at the primary level, is increasingly problematic. Salaries clearly are important (Colclough et al., 2003) but there are more subtle issues associated with community standing and respect that are more difficult to define. A recent report on education in South African rural communities (Nelson Mandela Foundation, 2004) highlighted the concerns of parents, pupils and others about the commitment and status of teachers.

In many communities there is a deep rift between teachers and the guardians of children in their care (…) Criticisms of teachers encompass a complex set of issues related to their lack of qualification, subject knowledge and sense of vocation. (page 107)

The Mandela Foundation report goes on to identify fourthly, an important area of concern, the form and nature of the teacher education curriculum for those who can gain access to it. They perceive a legacy of: (…) colleges that proliferated across the homelands and purveyed little more than a repetition of the high-school syllabus wrapped in an authoritarian pedagogy. (page 108)

It was in part a response to this sort of critique that South Africa has integrated teacher colleges into the higher education sector generally and moved to an "outcomes"-based approach to curriculum design with classroom effectiveness at the core of requirements.

This has been less true in other countries. Much curricula, whether regulated by government agencies or by university authorities, remains organized around the traditional idea of "disciplines" of education and subject knowledge. Frequently these are taught separately and without reference to the pedagogy through which the teacher's task has to be carried out.

Fifth, where qualification upgrading courses exist, they are often focused wholly on the "individual teacher qualification needs" without any reference to the impact such an upgrading process could have on immediate colleagues or the school as a whole. In some schools neither a teacher's colleagues, nor the head teacher may be aware that the teacher is following an upgrading course. In some contexts the content of the upgrading course require no practice or experimentation to be carried out in the school in which the teacher teaches.

The sixth and final policy concern is the inability to develop programmes at scale. Whilst the prime mode of thinking remains pre-service, campus-based provision, the possibilities of moving to scale are limited. It is for this reason that many countries have come to revisit ideas of open and distance learning. Distance education and teacher education have strong links that, in some countries, have a long lineage, however, but distance education has traditionally had an image problem (Lewin, 2002) and has often been seen as a threat to existing providers. But distance education has the positive characteristic of potentially being able to work to scale and some evaluations point to effectiveness where certain key programme structure variables are built in.

 

NEW COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES AND NEW MODES OF DISTANCE EDUCATION

This analysis points clearly to the necessity of rethinking the structures and processes of teacher education. The forms of teacher education that emerged in the twentieth century, campus based colleges and university departments of education, will be unable to meet the demands of the present century. In many parts of the world acute teacher shortages require untrained adults to go directly into the classroom. Even in the richer economies great difficulties exist. A reference has already been made to the large numbers of untrained teachers in the Californian state elementary school system. More broadly across the USA it is estimated (see Ingersoll, 1999 and 2004) that one third of all lessons in grades 7-12 are taught by non-specialists. In some subject areas this percentage increases. Half of all history and science classes are taught by non-specialists.

The contemporary context, therefore, of teachers points to the need for more development extensive forms of school based education and training. Most professional development for the majority of teachers will have to take place 'at the workplace'. The old model of campus based training and then subsequent one or more day release 'courses' cannot meet current demands. And in this context the logic points to some form of supported open and distance learning.

Traditionally, distance education has always been something of a second best option. The mode of learning for those who could not aspire to the higher status residential Universities. Nelson Mandela did a distance education degree because he was in prison. And this remains a problem, particularly amongst policy makers or decision takers who probably themselves benefitted from a traditional route through higher education.

Open and distance learning, even in forms that utilise the most recent high status communication technologies, are often seen as second best (Moon, 2000). The central argument of this paper is that this perception needs to change. Such a change is necessary, not just because, in many sectors there is little alternative but also because in terms of quality, effectiveness and sustainability the new forms of open and distance programmes are better value for money than other, even traditional, alternatives.

The status and image of open and distance learning is, however, slowly changing. New communication technologies have provided creative and motivating ways of presenting information and providing opportunities for interaction (Leach and Moon, 2002). The increased mobility of these technologies is opening up possibilities for learners in remoted, often rural, locations that previously were impossible. One of the most fascinating developments in the last few years has been the open content or open educational resource (OER) movement. Based on the same philosophy as the open source software initiatives (viz. Linux) OERs are freely available to anyone to use and adapt as they wish. Significant investment by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, including the pioneer project to make the teaching resources of MIT available in this form has created widespread interest in a philosophy that espouses open and free forms of knowledge (often, after all, created through public funds) rather than the closed world of intellectual 'property'. Publications from the Hewlett Foundation (Atkins, et al., 2007) the OECD (OECD, 2007) and the European Union (OICOS, 2007) provide contemporary accounts of this emergent field.

Although policy systems are proving slow to respond to the new possibilities a range of interesting research and development projects are emerging that provide indicators for the direction of wider take-up. Although the detailed implementation of such programmes can be complex (see Moon et al, 2005) the basic principles are easy to elaborate, see Figure 1 below.

 

Click to enlarge

 

Into this logistical structure a variety of pedagogic approaches, resource development models, quality assurance systems can be built. Forms of assessment and accreditation will also vary from programme to programme. New communication technologies, however, do offer a much richer range of resource provision and interactive opportunities. Third generation mobile phones, for example, can be used for a range of multi-media. The same devices offer opportunities for discussion with other teachers and those providing support in both synchronous and asynchronous modes. Here are just a few examples in very different contexts.

This open and distance learning teacher preparation programme is aimed at attracting older (30+) entrants into teaching. A large proportion of its graduates go onto teacher shortage school subjects such as mathematics and science. The programme, which has been running since 1994, has used asynchronous conferencing from the outset and has increasingly used more web and online teaching strategies as technologies have evolved. The programme now allows for highly individualised training routes, including fast track opportunities for those with appropriate experience. http://www3.open.ac.uk/courses/bin/p12.dll?Q01C21

The Enlaces initiative in Chile

Teacher training in the Enlaces programme lasts two years. Its aim is to help educators incorporate educational information technology into their teaching. Teachers learn to use e-mail, the Internet, and educational and productivity software in their work, and to use information technology to create teaching materials. They also learn to use these technologies for administrative tasks, such as maintaining student attendance, grade charts and lesson plans. In addition, teachers acquire basic skills for operating and maintaining the equipment and for selecting, acquiring and installing educational software.

After the second year of training, teachers are offered a follow-up technical assistance programme for one year, which can be extended if necessary. This allows the schools to continue the active incorporation of educational technology into their educational projects and to develop greater autonomy in this area.

Within each school, one or more teachers are specially trained to serve as Enlaces co-ordinators. Co-ordinators oversee the proper use of ICT and help students and teachers put it to optimal educational use. Enlaces, which began in 1992, has trained thousands of primary and secondary teachers. www.enlaces.cl

CalStateTEACH, California, USA

The state of California launched this new open and distance learning programme in 1999 in response to the growing number of unqualified teachers being recruited into the elementary school system. CalStateTEACH is a non-traditional programme that offers both a student teaching and an intern programme for qualified candidates interested in earning their credential without attending traditional college classes. Instead, the curriculum is delivered online.

Participants use web, print and CD-ROM materials. They share ideas through web-based 'class discussions', and get professional feedback through on-site coaching. CalStateTEACH participants enjoy personal guidance from mentor teachers at their school site as well as CSU faculty. They communicate and share ideas with other participants via a special web site. www.calstateteach.net

The Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) Open Educational Resources Programme

TESSA is Africa's largest teacher education co-operative programme. It has 18 core institutional members across nine countries. Half a million teachers were using TESSA materials in the first year of operation, 2008. The programme offers a wide range of materials to support school-based teacher education programmes in the basic education sector. All the materials (both text and audio) are open education resource that can be freely taken and adapted. The materials currently exist in five languages. Examples of users include the National Teachers Institute in Nigeria and The Open University of Sudan who both have teacher upgrading initiatives with cohorts of teachers in excess of 100,000. www.tessafrica.net

A range of other examples could be given. In Brazil the Ministry of Education has created a programme of initial training focussed particularly on the need for teachers in remote rural locations. In Mexico the PRONAP project has used open and distance learning strategies since 1996. In 2002 a Virtual Teachers Centre was launched incorporating an online workshop approach. In India the Indira Gandhi Open University (IGNOU) has developed a Certificate Course in Primary Education aimed specifically at the 175,000 untrained teachers in Sikkian and the North Eastern mountainous states. Radio and Television are crucial components of this programme. In China, where use of distance education has a long history in teacher education, numerous projects exist. For example, the Guangxi Zhieang autonomous region has developed a distance education programme aimed at the 40,000 teachers in remote rural locations. And in 2007 the Ministry of Education developed a web-based distance education training programme which is providing training for 10,000 headteachers in 100 targetted locations country wide.

The evaluation data on the effectiveness of these programmes is very varied. The OU (UK) PGCE is monitored by a national external government inspection service and grades are available for different components of the programme. These reports and grades are publicly available (www.ofsted.gov.uk/). The TESSA programme carries out a range of evaluations and publishes these through the TESSA web site. Over recent decades there have been many studies comparing the effectiveness, including the cost effectiveness of distance education compared to campus based training (see, for example, Perraton, 2000; Latchman and Robinson, 2002). Most provide cautious optimism about the benefits of distance learning. Few, however, have been updated to take account of the emergency of new communication technologies (an exception would be a shortly to be published Open University UK World Bank commissioned study of the costs of teacher education in selected Sub-Saharan African countries (Banks, F. et al., 2008, forthcoming).

This paper argues that, in order to meet the scale of demand for teacher education in coming decades there is no alternative to school based modes of training supported by open and distance learning. The forms that these take may vary, but the general approach for most parts of the world appears the best and only option available. In that context the research evidence and the experience of programmes of the sort described here points to a number of areas for future enquiry and research, including:

• what balance of old and new technologies is appropriate for different types of programmes?

• what forms of infrastructure are necessary to incorporate the new technologies effectively?

• what role can interactive, multi-media open educational resources play in teacher education programmes (much teacher education is, to be frank, boring!)?

• how can 'value for money' cost models be developed?

• how can programmes genuinely reflect and impact on the classroom activity of the teacher?

• what forms of peer, mentor, tutor support are most suitable for the different forms of programme?

and finally:

• what preparation do policy makers need to interpret the new modes of communication, new forms of programmes, with the planning and implementation process?

There is clearly a need for wide-ranging research and evaluation if the potential benefits to teacher education reform are to be realised.

 

AN ARCHITECTURE FOR TEACHER DEVELOPMENT

This is not the first time that rapid changes in forms of communication have had a significant impact on our ambitions for educational and social progress. The printing press, the telegraph, the telephone all, in an earlier age, changed conceptions of the world. The end of the nineteenth century, for example, was a moment of rapid change. Not only was the world in the nineteenth century coming to be united in a net of steel, telegraph wires, and ideologies of progress, but also, and perhaps more significant, for the first time in history growing numbers of people in societies around the world - societies that differed greatly in structure, cultural practice, and historical experience - were coming to the realisation that their daily experience and the structural conditions of that experience were drifting apart. It was in the nineteenth century that, for the first time, self and society were beginning to be interrelated in a global milieu, one in which people's understanding of themselves and sense of the social world could no longer be identified as exclusively tied to only one place, only one tradition (Erlmann, 1999). Such changes in everyday perceptions of time, place and identity were so sweeping that Robertson (1992) speaks of it as a 'take-off phase' of globalisation in which the 'globalising tendencies' of earlier ages gave way to 'a single inexorable form'. On the ground, however, Erlmann (1999) has suggested that emergence of a singular conception of something called humankind and an increasingly interconnected world, was beyond the conceptual grasp of any one individual living under its sway. In the individual's imagination, wherever they were located, this 'global' system' took a wide range of forms of symbolic meanings. Thus emerged a new form of sociospatial, imagination that inscribed itself in the very syntax of language itself, the 'intersections of absence and presence' as Giddens (1991) has called them.

Into these new spaces created by rapid changes of technology came, in Pierre Bourdieu's terms, 'new cultural intermediaries' and new roles for intellectuals and artists. This is a process that is also characterising the new revolution in communications today. The new forms of technologies and our capacity to reconceptualise traditional divides and new practices, in turn offers an opportunity to think in new, and more realistic ways about what is humanly possible. In this paper a number of propositions have been made:

• that the worldwide challenge of expanding educational opportunity has a concomitant challenge to provide teachers and teacher education to make the experience of schooling meaningful and productive;

• that there is a need to build new, flexible, effective, school based forms of teacher education at a reach hitherto undreamt of;

• that to do this emergent models of development that exploit new forms of technology, need to be examined, in order that new practices of teacher education might be shared, experienced and evaluated globally.

Across the world, many internationally recognised institutions and groups drive the improvement of teacher education, attracting scholars and ideas from every part of the globe. Few of these, however, are situated in the developing world. Few are driven by the real agendas of the poor and the dispossessed. The proposition here is that a task for teacher education is to create a new and imaginative 'architecture' for discourse and debate that is truly international, drawing on wide ranging practices and scholarship, and one that embraces the challenge set out in this paper. The form of that architecture, the roles of individuals in creating and working together in this, as well as its many globally and varied related communities, provides an agenda for the next stage of development.

 

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* Elements of this paper are derived from UNESCO reports, prepared by Professor Bob Moon for the Committee of Experts on the application of recommendations concerning teaching personnel and for a meeting of the UNESCO E9 countries (the world's largest population developing countries).(http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001516/151685E.pdf).

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