UNICEF-TC Study Published

By Gita Steiner-Khamsi

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TC participants (names listed from left to right): Andrea Ahlert, Erin Weeks-Earp, Amritpal Sandhu, Raisa Belyavina, Saima Gowani, Katherine Batchelder, Gita Steiner-Khamsi, Latika Young, Ann Wiley, Ghazala Mehmood, Kate Munro, Dan Cooper.

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.

Alumni Reunion in Georgia

By Natia Mzhavanadze and Nino Chinchaladze

From left to right: Rusudan Chanturia, Tamuna Gabisonia, Peter Moock, Nino Chinchaladze

Those of us fortunate enough to have studied at Teachers College would unhesitatingly confirm how heart-warming it is to rejoin the big family again. This time, the Georgian TC alumni were happy to reunite and meet Dr. Peter Moock in Tbilisi, Georgia, on January 28, 2012. Peter Moock (Economics and Education/PhD/1973) worked for many years at the World Bank after having served on the faculty of TC. He is now a member of the TC Alumni Council. There was a record attendance at the meeting in January: ten of the twelve alumni who studied at TC were able to attend the Alumni Reunion in Tblisi. The cosy atmosphere and retro environment in a historical part of the city made the friendly and professional conversations even more enjoyable and unforgettable.

The Georgian Program for Education Professionals started in 2006 as a joint initiative of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and the Open Society Foundations with the administration of the Center for International education (Tbilisi) providing 24 educators with the opportunity to pursue M.A. programs at Teachers College Columbia University and at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The purpose of the program was to provide Georgian education system with qualified professionals able to contribute to the wide-scale reforms being implemented.

Twelve Georgians were awarded M.A. degrees by TC. Most pursued their studies in the program of International Education Development, with one completing the course in Economics and Education. As anticipated, all of the alumni remain active in the education field trying to make positive changes in various educational sub-domains. Several alumni serve in one of the state universities, some hold managerial positions in international NGOs and others work in new entities founded by the ministry serving either in international relations divisions or managing international educational studies (PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS) or programs of teacher professional development. One even serves as the Minister of Education of Abkhazia (autonomous entity of Georgia).

Whatever their current occupations, their most significant common feature has remained the same over the years. All are enthusiastically dedicated to the value of education – an attribute that has been strengthened, nurtured and supported by TC. The reunion is over, but our getting together in January enhanced the spirit of belonging to our Alma Mater, and we all look forward to more frequent and rewarding reunions in the future. On behalf of the Georgian alumni of TC, we wish to express our gratitude to Dr. Moock and to the Office of Alumni Relations and Drs. Gita Steiner-Khamsi and Marion Boultbee, who encouraged and facilitated this event.