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Background and Context

 The Teacher is a prime mover in the Agenda 2063 quest for an education and skills revolution for achieving an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa. This aspiration is unpacked in the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25) which has Teacher Development as the first of its Strategic Objectives. CESA was adopted by the AU Summit in January 2016 as a strategy for ensuring that Education adequately contributes to the attainment of the people-centred African Vision of Agenda 2063. It is a domestication of the Global Education 2030 program and is therefore the African Response to SDG 4.

 

CESA is  is a Strategy for Reorienting Africa’s Education and Training systems to meet the knowledge, competencies, skills, innovation and creativity required to nurture African core values and promote sustainable development at the national, regional and continental levels. It is beyond doubt that an education and skills revolution as called for by Agenda 2063 cannot materialize except with a focus on Teacher Development. Even in a ‘student-centred’ world, and exponential development of ICTs, Africa needs to invest in production of millions of new teachers while enhancing Teacher capacity and capability on one hand; and status and motivation on the other.

Every profession is developed through a Teacher. In many schools in poor communities, the Teacher is the only link with opportunities for success of children and with the ultimate improvement of social status of families. In affluent societies, where parents are busy, the Teacher is often the most available role model for many children. In many communities the Teacher is the repository of knowledge and understanding. Often, the teacher determines subject preferences of learners, and their career paths.

However, the status accorded to teachers has been on the decline over recent decades. This undermines teacher motivation, and the attractiveness of the profession. Although all professionals go through the support of teachers, yet teaching as a profession is often seen as a last resort career, even among unemployed graduates.

The Assembly of the African Union, in recognition of the central role of the Teacher in human resource development and human empowerment, took a landmark decision demanding reinstatement of the status of the Teacher, and called for the following:

  • Called for a Teacher Study- on the training, working and living conditions of teachers in Member States;
  • Endorsed the decision of Ministers responsible for Education, Science and Technology, which called for establishment of an AU Teachers prize
  • Established a Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government as Champions for Education, Science and Technology to ensure that education receives the support and status that it deserves

The Teacher Study highlighted the challenges and opportunities in the systems within which teachers operate; and strategies for promoting teacher motivation and quality, and the need to ensure professionalization of teaching. Recommendations of the Study include the need for innovative strategies for Teacher Motivation, development of Teacher Qualification Frameworks, enhancement of the pre- and in-service training, establishment of teacher professional guidelines and manuals, among others. Establishment of a Teachers Prize would serve to motivate and encourage teachers, while raising visibility, status and attractiveness of Teaching as a profession.

The AU Teacher Prize

Teachers are skilled professionals doing one of the most important jobs in society and must be treated with the same degree of respect as other high status professions. Teachers can make a difference between success and failure in life; and easily determine the quality of education delivered and acquired. Lack of quality education is a major factor behind many social, political, economic and health challenges faced by the world today; as well as contributing to poverty, prejudice and conflict. The status of the Teacher in Africa is critically important to achieving Agenda 2063 vision of integration, peace and prosperity, by facilitating acquisition of not just skills and knowledge, but also requisite values and attitudes.

The Teacher Prize will be a means for demonstrating respect for teachers and the teaching profession, by encouraging and celebrating the committed teachers in Africa. The Prize mechanism will shine a spotlight on ‘great’ teachers and facilitate sharing of their remarkable stories. It will raise the status of teaching, and inspire the best possible candidates to join the teaching profession.

It is hoped that the AU Teacher Prize will be replicated and multiplied at regional and national levels.

Objectives

The Teacher Prize is an important and valuable instrument that contributes to the success of Agenda 2063 and the Continental Education Strategy, with the following objectives:

  1. Enhance visibility and status of the Teacher in Africa at all levels - Pre-primary, Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary including TVET
  2. Promote Teaching as a profession at all levels
  3. Celebrate and encourage outstanding teachers based on the following demonstrated qualities:
    • Performance of students
    • Utilisation of innovative education delivery approaches, methodologies and instruments
    • Positive influence in the community and the school
    • High moral standards
    • Commitment to passing on values to students
    • Positive support to fellow staff
    • Positive engagement with parents

Selection Process

The winners of the AU Teacher Prize will be identified through Calls for Nomination at local and international levels. Eligible nominating agencies include certified government, non-government, private sector, community based organisations and institutions. The staged selection process will involve public officials, teachers, academics, journalists, entrepreneurs, company directors, scientists and entertainment industry figures in Africa.

Below are among the criteria that will determine winners:

  • Engaging in quality teaching which is focused on high standards of student achievement including social outcomes for varied groups of students;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter, while keeping up with recent;
  • Encouragement of good behaviour through positive feedback and other methods;
  • Managing classes to enhance the quality of learning processes, ensuring accommodation of students with varied learning needs;
  • Employing pedagogical practices that enable classes and other learning groupings to work as caring, inclusive, and cohesive learning communities;
  • Engaging in activities and networks that facilitate engagement of learners with various cultural contexts in which students are socialised, to enhance the social value of learning;
  • Achieving teachers’ and students’ engagement in constructive goal-oriented assessment to facilitate reaching present and future educational goals of the students or to reach the students’ full potential;
  • Helping students to achieve their long term intellectual needs by providing new materials to gain new insights or to open up new channels of intellectual stimulation, and to enhanced student’s essential and creative thinking power.
  • Demonstrating multi-valency in facilitating acquisition of knowledge and skills, as well as values for peace building and responsible citizenship
  • Positive reputation from stakeholders and community members

The selection process will be managed by the African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology. A selection committee, appointed by the Chairperson of the African union Commission, will review applications and propose a graded shortlist of twenty candidates. The final top five candidates will be decided by the AUC Chairperson. The Award will be given to five extraordinary teachers; male and female innovative and caring teachers who have made inspirational impact on their students and their community.

The Teacher Prize will be awarded by the Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government Champions for Education Science and Technology during their special session. The award will include a plaque, a certificate and USD 20,000 for each winning candidate.

Outcomes

The selected teachers will be used as continental champions for excellence in teaching who will be provided platforms to share their experiences to inspire teachers and development of the teachign proofession on the African continent.