Estonia`s Teacher Education Strategy fot 2008-2013
By Heli Mattisen,
Head of the Estonian Higher Education Quality Agency, one of the compilers of the teacher education strategy
Main problems related to teacher education
What could be done (and by whom) in order to allow teachers to enjoy their work and encourage young people to become teachers? This is a question that is being asked by most countries in the European Union (EU).
The main problems related to teacher education in Estonia were identified by a 23-member working group formed under the directive of the Minister of Education and Research, which comprised representatives from the Ministry of Education and Research (MER), teachers’ professional organizations, parents, pupils, and heads of schools.
- The social status of teachers is not in accordance with the expectations connected to their role, the prestige of the profession is low, and there is obvious inconsistency between the amount of responsibility teachers have and the compensation and recognition they receive. The image building of the teaching profession is weak and haphazard. Teachers do not value their profession highly enough.
- The role and meaning of teachers’ professional organizations in developing and representing the teaching profession as well as satisfying the teachers’ affiliation needs are small.
- There is a shortage of professionally qualified teachers in schools in certain subject fields; the age and regional distribution of teachers is worrying.
- The management of schools, incl. personnel development, is not handled in a competent manner in many cases and the organizational culture of the schools does not always support the teachers’ professional development.
- The planning of continuing education and its quality assurance and assessment system are inadequate at the state level as well as the level of the educational institution.
- The regulations concerning teacher education do not take into account the principles of the professional standard, and they do not comply with each other.
- A systematic monitoring of the field of teacher training has not been initiated and no studies have been conducted that would enable the heads of schools to make competent management decisions.
- The number of well-suited candidates for teacher training and the number of young teachers coming to schools has been insufficient for years and the trend is negative.
- The preparation of teachers in initial training and continuing education and the provision of support for their development in a working environment that requires a wide variety of skills are insufficient and do not react flexibly to changes in the education system.
- The teachers are not prepared and lack the skills for analyzing their work and guiding their development, engaging in teamwork in order to support the learner's development, making use of opportunities for learning from colleagues and contributing to the development of the school.