By Gita Steiner-Khamsi
The six-country study, Teachers: A Regional Study on Recruitment, Development and Salaries of Teachers in the CEECIS Region, is published. The study developed and applied a new methodological tool for measuring teacher shortage in the Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CEECIS) region. It measured overt teacher shortage (unfilled/ vacant teaching posts) as well as covert teacher shortage (teachers who have burdensome teaching loads or teach additional subjects for which they were not trained, teachers who are retired, teachers who are part-time university students, etc.) at the school level. The study was carried out as part of a two-semester course, International Education Policy Studies, and was co-taught by Professor Gita Steiner-Khamsi and Philippe Testot-Ferry (UNICEF CEECIS, Senior Regional Advisor). The Teaching Assistants for the class were Erin Weeks-Earp (doctoral student in CIE) and Erin Tanner (UNICEF CEECIS).
As with previous courses that had a mixed composition of class and a mixed instructional design (including distance learning and a field component), the UNICEF-sponsored course enrolled UNICEF staff, government officials, and university lecturers from the six countries. Such courses have been offered almost annually since 2002. The first few courses were co-sponsored by the Open Society Institute. Later on other co-sponsors also expressed interest, and different types of collaborative agreements have been made with the World Bank, Inter- American Development Bank, I*Earn, and most recently with USAID. These kinds of courses are very popular with students in the IED/CIE programs, and they are admitted based on individual interviews. For example, in the UNICEF CEECIS co-sponsored course only one in five applicants could be admitted.
The six mixed research teams (half in New York, half in the CEECIS region) collected and analyzed data on recruitment into teaching, teacher shortage, salaries as well as work condition of teachers. Their national studies were published in English and in the national languages of the following countries of the CEECIS region: Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Uzbekistan. The comparative regional study is available online: http://www.unicef.org/ceecis/ education_1465.html.
UNICEF CEECIS sponsored the research teams and additionally covered the cost of travel and accommodation to present the study at the congress of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES) in Istanbul. The collaboration was mutually beneficial: UNICEF staff and their institutional partners in the participating countries had the opportunity to study teacher-related issues and policies in their own country and across their region in depth. In turn, the TC students were able to bridge theory and practice in policy studies and apply research methods to a topic (teacher quality) that is currently experiencing tremendous attention by think tanks, governments, and non-governmental organizations.