ICET, AACTE Revive Collaboration Around Teacher Shortage
On September 25, 2012, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon launched the UN Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) for making quality education available to all children, young people, and adults. This year, on the third anniversary of the GEFI launch, leaders from AACTE answered his call for assistance by committing to revive a longstanding partnership with the International Council on Education for Teaching (ICET). But why ICET, and why now?
What Is ICET?
ICET is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) working with educator preparation providers (EPPs) globally to ensure all learners will have access to a high-quality education in which educators are appropriately qualified and recognized as motivated and committed professionals and practitioners.
As an NGO in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council , ICET is eligible for funding via the UNESCO Participation Program. ICET has secured four consecutive teacher development grants to work with teacher education partners in Africa. The latest grant involves collaborating with the Commissioner of Education, Science, and Culture for the ECOWAS Region, the Forum for African Women Educationalists, the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, and Sultan Qaboos University (Oman) for promoting gender equity and access to quality basic education in the ECOWAS region of Africa. In addition, over the last 2 years, ICET served as an elected member of the UNESCO NGO Liaison Committee, which brought about increased engagement in international and regional activities during that period.
Why Should AACTE Engage Internationally?
ICET-AACTE: A History of Collaboration From 1968
The foundation for collaboration between AACTE and ICET began with a shared governance arrangement in 1968, when Edward C. Pomeroy (AACTE executive director) and Frank Klassen (ICET executive director) assumed positions one another’s boards. AACTE also provided the opportunity to create a permanent ICET secretariat at the AACTE Headquarters in One Dupont Circle.
The AACTE-ICET collaboration has ebbed and flowed over time. During the 1980s, AACTE focused efforts on supporting members in responding to domestic policies and the budding standards and accountability movement, which drew attention away from international relations. Still, leaders frequently attended one another’s conferences and kept the relationship going. In recent years, increased engagement with international stakeholders, member interest in global connections, and expectations of education in the post-2015 era have motivated a refreshed commitment to the ICET-AACTE collaboration.
Secretary Duncan’s establishment of the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in 2011 created a forum to facilitate connections between U.S.-based and global education organizations. Already, this annual summit has contributed to the development of key teacher education initiatives including the Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching (RESPECT) Project and the Teach to Lead initiative.
Educator Preparation Needs to Be a Focus of GEFI-Champion Countries
The United States is a champion country for the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI). Activities to date include strategic investment in education, expanded use of educational technologies, and enhanced global citizenship. While these activities closely align with the priorities of the GEFI initiative, teacher education and development are also essential priorities.
In April 2013 during a high-level GEFI event in Washington, DC, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova described “teacher training and professional development as the single most powerful force for driving improvements in equity, access, and quality” and issued a call for bolder action to tackle barriers to improving the quality of learning, in particular the shortage of well-prepared teachers.
The third anniversary of the GEFI launch marks the day when the leadership of ICET and AACTE publically committed to collaborate around taking bolder actions for tackling the barrier of the teacher gap. And what better time to announce it than this week, which kicks off with a celebration of World Teachers’ Day October 5?
ICET is a member of the International Taskforce on Teachers for EFA, an international alliance of stakeholders collaborating to address the teacher gap to meet Education For All (EFA) goals.
This membership provides a focus for the first ICET-AACTE collaborative initiative. This will involve activities to address the gap between the number of appropriately qualified, motivated, and committed professionals and practitioners we have in the United States and the number we need. Data from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics indicates the UNESCO region of North America and Western Europe is second only to Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of the size of the teacher gap. The major cause of this gap in the United States is teacher attrition, which costs the U.S. government as much as $2.2 billion annually, and leaves a legacy of low levels of literacy among the poor and marginalized.
Over the next month, the leaders of AACTE and ICET will meet to discuss how the collaboration can contribute to the task force’s priorities, including increasing awareness among stakeholders of the vital role of teachers in the achievement of global agendas, prioritizing support for teachers, and exchanging knowledge and expertise in connection to national and regional teacher policy objectives related to addressing the teacher gap.
We invite leaders of EPPs around the world to encourage teacher candidates, faculty, and administrators to learn more about ICET, its World Assemblies, and the efforts of the ICET-AACTE collaboration to improve educational experiences and outcomes in all parts of the world by providing quality educators for all.
James O’Meara is president of the International Council on Education for Teaching. Sharon P. Robinson is president and CEO of AACTE.