Enhancing opportunities for recognition and progression

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The paper takes account of the current system for upgrading to degree level and post-graduate level and acknowledges the potential for further continuous professional development activities to be incorporated into credit-based qualifications available through all Ethiopian Higher Education Institutions.

The research identifies opportunities for widening participation through distance learning - building on the current practice of summer schools and extension programmes; accreditation of learning to enable learners to accumulate credits towards a qualification; and identification of gender issues to ensure that the current low ratio of female teachers in secondary education is tackled. It also highlights the need to link continuous professional development to career structures and the licensing process as well as current good practice such as the Higher Diploma Program and the ELIP KELTA program in Ethiopia as well as provision elsewhere in Africa and Europe.


In Ethiopia during the 2003 to 2004 academic year, graduate teachers formed only 4.6% of the total teaching population across government and non-government schools. What is more disturbing is that the percentage of female teachers with degrees or masters was only 1% of the female teaching population. This was in spite of the fact that large numbers of teachers were undertaking upgrading from diploma to degree level through summer schools and universities and colleges were training new graduate teachers. Female teachers currently make up about 31% of all the teachers across Ethiopia although they only form 8.5% of the total number of secondary school teachers in the country. (Statistics gathered in January 2005 by the MOE)

Saint stated that Ethiopia's tertiary level gross enrolment ratio in 2000 placed it among the lowest ranking countries of the world. This was compounded by the fact that 'just 7% of academic staff in public tertiary institutions are women, thus depriving the tertiary education system of a fully proportionate share of the country's best female intellects, and its women students of sufficient role models for mentoring and guidance. In comparison, the Sub-Saharan average for women's participation in degree programs is roughly 30% and the proportion of women academic staff is about 18%.' (Saint:6- 7)

The Transitional Government of Ethiopia recognised the need to upgrade the 'quality and professional competence of the existing teachers through in service training' in 1994 and commissioned Livingstone to undertake research. He stated the need for staff development and made specific reference to the fact that accreditation should be considered:

'for different forms of learning: for prior learning in another institution or field; for formal learning through established routes; for experiential learning, usually in the workplace. It is best if such a scheme is national and is operated by all institutions in comparable ways.' (2001:55)

The Teacher Education System Overhaul (TESO) followed this up in 2003 and recognised the need for 'a systematic arrangement of certification and licensing' (14), which would be associated with continuous professional development (CPD) and would consider accreditation. As a result of this policy document, all teachers are now required to undertake a minimum of sixty hours continuous professional development activity each year. Following recent monitoring activity into CPD carried out by the Ministry of Education across the regions of Ethiopia, the need to have some of this activity accredited to support the process of licensing and ensure quality assurance for some of the provision was reiterated. Teachers are also entitled to receive recognition for some of their in service training to enable them to progress in their careers.


The government of Ethiopia, in its draft Education Sector Development Program III plans to improve the quality of secondary education 'by upgrading teachers through pre- and in-service training' (2004:28). Some of this activity will be through the summer school programs linked to distance learning, a system also used to upgrade second cycle teachers (in grades 5 to 8) from the first cycle. According to this plan, the chronic shortage of teachers required to meet the increase in enrolments, particularly in the second cycle, will necessitate the development of 'accelerated training programs through distance education for under qualified teachers currently teaching' (2004:25).

Within the second cycle, and particularly in secondary schools, female teachers form a minority, in every region providing a negligible role model for potential female students. For example, in one region in the second cycle there were only 35 female teachers compared to 255 male teachers. For grade 9 to 10 there were only two female staff recorded, neither possessing a higher education qualification and, of the 86 male teachers, only 36 had a degree. In this same region only 28% of Grade 11 students were female. (Statistics gathered in January 2005 by the MOE)

The benefits of widening access to females are widely recognised. In 1996 Gordon wrote:

'Education has been seen as the major mechanism for the emancipation of African women and the means by which they will be able to compete with men in the modernising economy, which it is supposed will lead to their economic empowerment…' (228)

and in Ethiopia, Teshome Nekatibeb noted that 'more productive labour, better health, and slower population growth all argue for more investment in female education.'(2002:4) Similarly, Shultz noted that 'education is essential to economic and social development' and more alarmingly, 'failing to invest adequately in educating women can reduce the potential benefits of educating men.' (1993:1) Browning stated that there was a problem in offering all-female classes within the Afar region due to the belief that 'women's role is to marry and bear children' (2001:51) The Draft Action Plan of the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia recognised these issues and included the strategy to expand 'recruitment and training of female teachers at all levels and increase the representation of women among school directors, supervisors, teacher trainers and Woreda education administrative staff.'(2004:20) Some of this 'training' should focus on the upgrading and updating skills of existing teachers to enable them to take on senior roles.

In other parts of Africa there have been efforts to recognise the needs of teachers, particularly those who face barriers to traditional upgrading practices. SAIDE reported that in South Africa, Distance Education and Open Learning (DEOL) was used to upgrade a target group of 'fairly elderly, largely rural teachers with outdated qualifications who have up to this point been by-passed by other national initiatives.' And in Kenya, the School-based Teacher Development Programme (SbTD) 'advocated a school-based model of teacher professional development, whereby the teacher learners would work through self-study distance education material.' (2004: 22-23)

In the rest of the world CPD provision that meets the teachers' needs, as opposed to the needs of the work-force, varies as Glover and Law noted in relation to Europe.

"INSET is generally an 'out of hours' activity in most European countries, although in some there are compulsory training sessions lasting between one day (e.g. Belgium, France) and several days (e.g. Ireland, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Scotland, Norway). Elsewhere, INSET may be provided only 'when needed' (eg, Luxembourg, Austria), although in all countries some level of professional development is available on a voluntary basis. INSET participation is generally accepted as a teacher' professional right, and its provision as the state's moral obligation, although there is little state compulsion for teachers to undertake CPD in most European countries." (1996:27)

Systems to recognise in-service training and offer opportunities for progression

In Ethiopia, teachers at all levels will go through a negotiated continuous professional development programme, completing a minimum of 60 hours approved activities each year, as the basis for their on-going professional development. There are links with the licensing procedures for teachers, which should determine the extent to which the activities impact on classroom practice. Teachers are therefore, according to the 2004 CPD Guideline, expected to present evidence of professional progress, through better teaching performance in the classroom, thus bringing about quality improvement in the education that learners experience.

Back in 2001, Livingstone identified the role of credit for recognising learning achievements and for the accreditation of prior and experiential learning of teachers. The TESO Programme Policy Document recognised the need to devise and implement a separate accreditation scheme (academic accreditation or credit accumulation) as part of the Teacher Education System that would enable credit to be achieved for learning both formally and experientially. The TESO Handbook also referred to credits within the summer school programme for upgrading teachers from diploma to degree level.

'a proposal is included for a summer degree in-service programme with a duration of five summers.

Each summer session will have 8 weeks face to face sessions and during the school holidays two weeks tutorial group work to support the self study activities and to evaluate the assignments. Total 48 weeks with an average of 18 credit hours per week.' (2003:160)

This has since been revised to cover four summers with 6 weeks of sessions in the summer holiday and distance learning throughout the year. In the same document one credit hour was defined as one period of 50 minutes.

The concept and definition of credit appears very different in other parts of the world. For over thirty years the Open University in the UK has offered credit points to learners; these are accumulated towards qualifications such as degrees and post-graduate qualifications. In recent years the Open University has offered a Master of Education that is valued at 180 credit points, 90 of which must be taken from the MEd (Chartered Teacher) profile and no more than 90 credit points which can be transferred following successful completion of appropriate study at another institution. Transparent arrangements for the accreditation of learning programs have thus led to credit transfer arrangements.

George and Weedon, in their study of the impact of credit transfer in Scotland, noted the difficulties and advantages of credit accumulation and transfer. On the positive side they state that:

'For the employer, credit rating of courses and the recognition of prior learning meets organisational needs, is useful for recruitment and saves on training resources. It also provides benchmarking, gives credibility to internal training, increases employees' motivation, and acts as an incentive to approaching the development of training programmes in a more rigorous and systematic manner. For the employee, credit rating of courses allows for the transfer of credit which may, for example, 'top-up' some qualifications to achieve a degree or other external award. It enhances the value of a specific training course, and aids career prospects.' (2001:34-35)

Patterson noted recent HE policy objectives in the UK, Australia and New Zealand and cited the advantages of removing the barriers to 'student access and mobility' including 'encouraging students to upgrade previous qualifications'. (2001:43) In Europe, the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) was developed under the Erasmus programme between 1989 and 1996 to allow all European Universities 'a way of measuring and comparing learning achievements, and transferring them from one institution to another'. (ESIB 2003) The 'Bologna Process', according to ESIB's definition, had a central goal which was 'to define and observe Europe-wide quality standards in higher education. A precondition is the elaboration of comparable methods and criteria to assess the quality of research and teaching.' As a result the 'European Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) was established.' The National Union of Students in Europe (ESIB) identified the benefits of a credit system in a number of papers as a means of widening participation, facilitating vertical mobility and integrating the higher education system. ESIB also noted the value of credit systems in achieving 'more transparency and compatibility between different educational structures' and in facilitating 'recognition procedures' which could 'open the possibility for flexible learning paths'. (ESIB 2004)

Clear articulation of the levels of qualifications is essential and the UK recently revised the criteria for the National Qualifications Framework, which affects England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to accommodate links with the framework for higher education qualifications. Positioning qualifications at the same level, however, 'only indicates that they are broadly comparable in terms of general level of outcome'. (QCA 2005) The use of credit, defined by ESIB as 'the 'currency' used to measure student workload in terms of the notional learning time required to achieve specified learning outcomes', was linked in the same document to the concept of Lifelong Learning which requires the development of 'a coherent system of credits that allows the evaluation and recognition of diplomas and certificates acquired at school, at university and in the framework of work-based learning.'(op.cit)

The benefits of a credit framework were clearly stated by ELWa, the education and learning body in Wales:

The context of learning is becoming increasingly complex in content, form and location. The trend towards lifelong learning with closer links to the workplace, the need to recognise work-related and informal non-certificated learning and the demands of e-learning place new demands on institutions. Increasingly institutions need a 'common language' to describe all the learning that they are responsible for and credit which is based on the volume and level of learning demand, provides a language that can unite all educational providers' (2004:3)

By developing a coherent, transparent and compatible currency, which can be used in quality assured programmes of learning by various accredited institutions, and by allowing learners to accumulate and, possibly, transfer this 'credit', Ethiopia, and other African countries, can reap some of the advantages gained elsewhere in the world.

But not everyone sees 'credit' as a benefit for all learners, particularly if learning had previously been popular but did not necessitate accreditation. Pilkington and Stuart highlight concerns expressed on one part-time university course of the 'continual pressure on course tutors both to increase the work load on the students and to base the assessment on written work' (2001:7). This may be one reaction from teachers, particularly if they lack confidence in articulating their learning achievements and if the assessment method is inappropriate for the purpose. Testing and examining teachers on their learning will be less effective and more demotivating than gathering evidence of the outcomes of their learning in the classroom. However, this would put additional pressures on tutors or supervisors, and the teachers themselves, who have to gather the evidence and prove that it meets the learning outcomes and assessment criteria to gain the relevant credit. Desforges raised awareness of some of the difficulties of assessing young people using course-work where moderation was used to ensure 'comparability of attainments' but he praised the form of assessment utilised in those training programmes that used continuous assessment and criterion-related assessment, particularly where 'A broad range of techniques is used to report achievements, including criterion statements, summaries of work, summaries of experience and collections of actual work done…Finally, the standards are guaranteed through a national body of examiners.' (1989:111) Quality assurance at every stage is essential.

The decision to use a credit system that is quality assured and compatible with the systems in other learning institutions and in other countries must take account of the cost, particularly in terms of human resources. This has to be weighed against the benefits, particularly for females, as reported by Coats:

Most providers of vocationally orientated courses felt that the reputation of provision was endorsed by accreditation. They reported that women were attracted by the prospect of gaining credit, welcoming public recognition of their achievements, either in terms of future work prospects or progression to further and higher learning opportunities. (2000:185)

Until recently, teachers in the UK had no national system of professional recognition and accreditation for their continuous professional development but this is in the process of changing as the Teacher Learning Academy is developed to enhance 'recognition and status for professional achievements and to establish a portable currency for teacher learning.'

The aim is to find a robust model for documenting and giving credit for individual or collaborative activities in school, rather than requiring teachers to take completely new modules of study on top of their existing workload. This accredited learning … could count towards a Masters degree and… could form the basis of a national framework. (GTC, 2003:16)

One example of an accredited course that counted credits towards a higher-level qualification was the Accredited Citizenship Course, organised by the Institute for Citizenship in London, UK in 2003. Participants spent four days 'designing and delivering a programme of citizenship in schools' and 'also carried out a piece of school-based research. The course counted as 20 credits towards a Certificate and Advanced Diploma in Professional Studies. It was also possible for this unit to be transferred to count towards an MA.' (Institute for Citizenship:2003) Opportunities already exist in Ethiopia to develop accredited courses that can provide progression towards higher-level qualifications.

Developing Good Practice in Ethiopia

Two examples of good practice in accredited training for Ethiopian teacher trainers that have been developed and delivered are the Higher Diploma Programme for teacher educators and the Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Development for English Language Teacher Trainers.

In the introduction to the Higher Diploma Programme, which 'was developed in 2003 by the Ministry of Education to meet the identified needs of teacher educators and support the implementation of the TESO programme, the aim 'is to improve the quality of education in Ethiopia through a licensing programme that will develop the skills and professionalism of teacher educators.'(2004:5). This programme is now entering its third year of delivery with Higher Diploma Leaders supporting Higher Diploma Tutors to deliver training and support to teacher educators within each teacher education institution including universities and training colleges. On successful completion of the programme, based on a portfolio of evidence that is moderated externally - no tests or examinations - candidates are awarded a license to teach student teachers.

The other programme was to train Key English Language Training Advisors (KELTAs) and was accredited by the College of St Mark and St John, University of Exeter. This postgraduate programme has now been delivered to about 200 participants but the accreditation does not currently count towards a Masters qualification in Ethiopia. There are plans, however, to develop a Masters in Education in Trainer Development that will be modular with credits awarded that may be transferable. This will initially have approval from a British University but, in the future, could be the responsibility of Ethiopian universities.

Although the two examples above are aimed at teacher educators, there is no reason why there should not be similar developments for teachers, supervisors and other staff working in education and training. Some colleges and universities are preparing distance learning materials and support mechanisms to reduce the duration of summer upgrading programmes for diploma and degree candidates. Sharing good experiences and pre-service teacher training module materials within and between regions will lead to raised standards in quality assurance and compatibility of modules. To this effect, a one-year course on writing textbooks and materials has been developed and delivered by the English Language Improvement Centre in Addis Ababa for teacher trainers. The CPD Guideline stated that serving teachers and head teachers had the right to access high quality and relevant continuous professional development opportunities. If they are also expected to renew their teaching licenses there will need to be clear links 'between CPD, re-licensing and career progression.' (2004:3) Accredited learning opportunities will be one solution to this problem.


Ethiopian teachers, particularly women teachers and those serving in remote areas, face considerable barriers to accessing and achieving higher education qualifications yet the country needs increasing numbers of highly educated and trained professionals to achieve its goals. The current upgrading procedures meet the needs of some teachers but they are often a long process and may not take account of the skills, experience and knowledge gained in the workplace. They do not enable learners to transfer learning from other provision, including updating courses, but the potential is there to recognise more learning opportunities. Opportunities for graduate teachers to gain postgraduate qualifications are relatively small due to costs and fear of the 'brain drain' but there is a need for teachers to achieve their full potential and possibly gain a postgraduate qualification, or credits towards a higher-level qualification. According to the statistics gathered by the Ministry of Education, in 2004 - 2004 there were 142 teachers with a Masters level qualification but, of these, only 23 were female teachers.


There needs to be a review of the current undergraduate and post-graduate part-time teaching qualifications to identify the potential for additional or alternative modules and teaching methodologies to be incorporated.

A credit accumulation and transfer system should be considered that would allow greater flexibility and credibility for the achievement of the qualification. A process, similar to the Bologna Agreement in Europe, could then assist in recognition of vocational training qualifications and modules across African and European Universities, where Ethiopians are achieving graduate and postgraduate qualifications.

The resulting qualifications and modules within Ethiopia need to be monitored and evaluated to measure the impact on gender within the profession, career structures and subsequent improvements in school performance.

With the achievement of these recommendations, Ethiopia would have an opportunity to develop a qualification framework for a developing future. It would also enable teachers, and other learners, who currently face barriers to learning through their gender, location or other special need, to participate more fully in education and training.