Young people and their parents have high hopes for education as one of the cornerstones of equitable societies. As the diversity of learners increases and inequity rises, teachers face questions about their own values, role and collective responsibility in contributing to equitable futures. This session will consider the implications of teacher development, school policy and classroom practices underpinning inclusive and equitable education. The need for teachers to question their professional ethics, values and attitudes will be debated, as will the importance of building teachers’ competences for creating safe and supportive schools for all. What support systems should be put in place to enable teachers to exercise the responsible judgement that is at the heart of their profession?
Creating equitable and inclusive schools
How to prepare teachers for the future we want?
- Quality education is key to human well-being and sustainable development.
- One reason for poor quality education is the lack of adequately trained teachers.
- In addition to training for competence in subject matters, teachers need training in values, sensitivity to student diversity and classroom management.
- Teachers should be trained to value every student and avoid stereotypes and biases.
SynopsisAs recognised in UN Sustainable Development Goal 4, obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and for sustainable development. In addition to improving quality of life, access to inclusive education can help provide the tools required for innovative solutions to the world’s greatest problems. According to the UN, some reasons for poor quality education are lack of adequately trained teachers, poor conditions of schools and equity issues related to opportunities provided to rural children. For quality education, investment is needed in educational scholarships, teacher training, school building and improvement of water and electricity access to schools. Significant, but not sufficient, progress has been made in getting children into classrooms. But once in the classrooms, education quality depends critically on the training, competence, commitment, empathy and values of the teachers. According to the International Task Force on Teachers for Education, no education is possible without an adequate number of qualified and motivated teachers. Key components of quality education are inclusiveness and equity. What are the implications of teacher development, school policy and classroom practices that provide inclusive and equitable education? Worldwide, there are not enough teachers, and many are inadequately trained. Teacher training is largely traditional, focusing on curriculum. In addition to training for competence in subject matters to be taught, teachers need training in values, sensitivity to student diversity and classroom management, particularly how to deal with large class sizes and disruptive students. Teachers should be trained to value every student whether a fast or slow learner, whether fully able or dealing with disabilities. Teachers should be trained to impart to students social and problem-solving skills. Teachers should be trained in using inclusive techniques. Teachers need training both at the beginning and throughout their careers. Professional teacher groups are useful for exchanging best practices and providing emotional support. Teachers should be tolerant of the diversity of their students, their families and their cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Teachers should also be familiar with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They should support female students and avoid sexist, religious and cultural stereotypes and biases. Teachers who are racist or sexist should not be teachers. All people have certain biases. Teachers should be trained to recognise their biases and refrain from acting on them. Well-trained teachers capable and committed to providing quality, equitable and inclusive education need much better pay and social status.
Policymakers and citizens should recognise that children are key to our futures and teachers are key to our children’s futures.