PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATORS
Teachers are UNRWA’s single most important educational resource, central to the provision of quality education and at the heart of the UNRWA Education Reform. To this effect, UNRWA has strengthened its investment in its teachers through career progression and continuous professional development opportunities. In this regard, the UNRWA Teacher Policy, endorsed in 2013, has been introduced to further professionalise the teacher workforce. In line with international research the Policy seeks to invest in its teachers through strengthening and motivating the teacher force and the systems they are supported by. Through this Policy, the career progression opportunities for teachers have been extended, and the prior anomalies of the grading of senior school-level education staff, i.e. school principals and their deputies was also addressed.
UNRWA APPROACH TO TEACHER DEVELOPMENT
The approach to teacher development is in itself holistic and coherent, moving beyond the usual focus of professional development and teacher training – albeit a key feature of the Reform - to address issues of policy, including organisational structures and career progression. This broader focus reflects global evidence on the relatively low impact of a sole emphasis on teacher training, particularly delivered through the cascade approach and what is known about how teachers ‘learn’ best.
Within this overall approach to teacher development, specific training and professional development programmes are more likely to have an impact, even more so if the modality of the training reflects what is known about effective learning in the classroom, and crucially how teachers themselves learn. To this effect, three large scale, professional development programmes were introduced:
- School-Based Teacher Development Programme: Transforming Classroom Practices (SBTD I) targeting teachers of grades 1-6.
- School-Based Teacher Development Programme: Transforming Classroom Practices (SBTD II) targeting teachers of Arabic, English and maths who teach Grades 7-12.
- Leading for the Future (LftF), targeting school principals and their deputies.
Both draw on international but contextualised best practices of blended learning (print, audio-visual, web based). Both programmes are designed to strengthen the existing UNRWA school support system by empowering Field-based education cadres to take on an active role and responsibility in the implementation of these programmes and equipping them with the tools to do so.
NEWLY APPOINTED TEACHER PROGRAMME (NAT)
The Newly Appointed Teacher (NAT) programme is a qualifying programme for newly appointed teachers in UNRWA schools and has been developed to address the professional needs of teachers in the twenty-first century. As such, it is designed to give qualified teacher status to newly appointed UNRWA teachers who successfully complete the programme. Developed as one of the last strands in UNRWA’s Educational Reform Strategy, the NAT programme aims to ensure that all UNRWA teachers have the knowledge, skills and understanding that will enable them to provide the best possible educational experience for every student.
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