01 SES 07 B, Understanding Professional Identity
Numerous and diverse radical changes in contemporary world ask for a different preparation for students. Teachers are at the epicentre of educational reform, and they have to be the agent and key bearer of changes in education. In this sense the importance of initial and continuous teacher education (TE) being regularly adapted to help teachers cope with the changing demands and realities of transforming society is obvious.
In the last decade the WB region has achieved significant progress in educational legislation that contributes to the modernization of education. Orientation on outcomes, competencies and standards of achievement has been introduced as the basis for the structural changes related to TE which enabled the introduction of the concept teacher professional development (TPD). The term TPD is widely used in education documents strategies and laws in regional countries. However, progress in the quality of education is insufficient: students from the region show poor performance on international assessments and are poorly prepared for dynamic changes in the labour market and participatory role in society.
The detailed SEE 2020 Strategy (which mirrors the approach taken by the Europe 2020) beneficiary's analysis shows that in spite of changes in legislation, structural reforms are ineffective because they are accompanied by insufficient attention to implementation capacities, and without concomitant changes in infrastructure. The basic elements of the TPD system have been established in most part. However, there are the problems with the realization of the TPD concept in practice that is not well (or enough) supported by the systems, resulting in the lack of important links between different phases of TE and the lack of coherent TPD system in these countries.
The biggest problems are in the harmonization of fragmentary reform actions: linking legislation and implementation, linking theory and practice, harmonization of TE along a number of lines, especially of initial teacher education (ITE), in-service (INST) and further work of teachers. Teacher education and training should be considered as system that includes all phases: recruitment future teachers, initial teacher education, induction and later in-service training. Similarly there has been little systematic connection between ITE, schools, staff development, school development and improvement, and educational research. There is the absence of a common vision of quality of teaching and formative links between quality assurance systems for teachers, schools and TE providers. There is very little evidence about the policies implemented. Quality assurance systems in education are not effective and formative links lack both in general and in relation to teachers' work and development. There is overwhelming evidence that institutions and schools in the region remain unduly disconnected from each other and from the increasingly multifaceted environments in which they operate. Teaching and learning are by and large perceived as individualistic teacher-class activities, with insufficient collaboration among school staff and the wider school community, and insufficiently mutually supportive relationships home-school.
Moreover, the job of teachers is implemented in the context of prolonged poverty, insecurity, reduced reputation and attractiveness of the profession. Teacher status and employment conditions unfavourably affect quality recruitment, retaining and sustaining these profession and teacher motivation. Expanded demands of teacher are not followed either by any or enough support system to address these demands and, moreover, with no incentive of value to teachers. The WB countries have the similarity of the social, political, economic and educational systems, as well as their common challenges. Moreover, they share aspirations for EU membership, although being at different stages of the accession process. The shared challenges, similar educational priorities and limited resources (both financial and human) provide strong justification for a regional approach.
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