Teacher Education and Promotion Policies in OECD Countries
The existing models of public service organisation are not really suitable any more for analysing modern teacher education. The pressure on productivity and effectiveness caused by globalisation blurs the specifics of career and position systems, and makes the issues connected with teachers as the key factor influencing the results of education much more complicated. Thus the issue of teacher education is not just a pedagogical issue, but also requires strategic political choices.
The article touches upon three important issues connected with teacher education, discussing them on the background of international experience. First, how the modern government models have influenced the expectations regarding the preparation and profession of teachers. Second, how to make the offering of and demand for teachers match by putting teachers where they are needed the most. Third, how to ensure the professional level and development of present and future teachers.
The fact that the Government is getting more and more involved in teacher education has given reason to speak about a separate teacher policy. Inspired by the new public management doctrine, teacher education becomes more and more based on the interests and satisfaction of different social stakeholders (parents, community), and the focus has shifted from expertise- and theory-centeredness to effectiveness, responsiveness and practicality.
Career and position systems have not been able to offer a cure for the chronic lack of quality teachers, therefore both systems are looking for novel approaches to the preparation and recruitment of teachers. One of them is the alternative and more flexible possibilities of entering the teaching profession. In addition to that, it is tried to place the teachers who already work to the regions where the problems with the number or quality of teachers are the greatest. Alternative ways of entering teaching profession are quietly gaining wider political recognition because it is believed such approach fits well with modern dynamic employment patterns. Estonia is also making steps towards liberalising the system, and the best example here is the launching of the American programme „Youth to School” in 2007. In order to ensure the so-called difficult regions with quality teachers, both positive special treatment (bonuses for relocation), and supportive rewarding mechanisms for dealing with difficult students are used.
In comparison to successful states, the Government of Estonia has been slower in initiating reforms in the in-service training of working teachers. If in the South-East Asian and several European countries the state has increased its role in the in-service training of teachers, then in Estonia it belongs to the sphere of decision-making and activities of non-government sector and autonomous universities. Secondly, one-size-fits-all model, which does not take into account the different work experience and needs of the teachers, prevails in Estonian teacher training. Such small differentiation of teacher policy measures and lack of strategic planning makes initiating reforms difficult and their cost badly manageable.