System level indicators for an education Sustainable Development Goal: Exploring possibilities for the teachers target

Angeline M. Barrett, Tore Bernt Sorensen

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper

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The new education development goal will include a target for teachers and a target for the learning environment. Suggested indicators for the teacher target are measures of input, typically the number and proportion of trained teachers. Quantitative input or outcomes indicators account for education quality at the level of individual learners and hence, seem compatible with a rights-based approach to quality. However, a look back at rights-based frameworks for conceptualising quality developed within the EFA movements, shows that these also included system level processes and policies that create an enabling context for classroom level teaching and learning. Achieving sustainable development calls for collective and not just individual learning. Outcome and input indicators give valuable information on equality but will not on their own ensure learning contributes to sustainable futures.

This paper explores the potential of qualitative conduct indicators that specify conditions for policy or system level functions focusing on the targets that relate to teacher professionalism and teaching and learning processes. It is argued the teachers target within the Education Sustainable Development Goal constructs teachers as malleable inputs, whose behaviours can be changed through pre-service or one-off input of teaching. System level indicators could focus on creating conditions to develop a shared professionalism that is sustained by teachers themselves. Such indicators would specify criteria used to evaluate teachers’ work and freedoms in ways that are compatible with the right to education and education for sustainable development. System level indicators, however, are not without their difficulties. They can be used to limit possibilities for education systems in line with the current ideologies of powerful actors, as is seen in the World Bank’s SABER programme. We take a look at the approach taken by OECD’s TALIS before proposing the form that indicators for teaching and learning processes and professional teachers may take.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
Publication statusUnpublished - 15 Sept 2015
Event13th International Conference on Education and Development - University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Sept 201517 Sept 2015


Conference13th International Conference on Education and Development
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Education for sustainable development
  • teacher professionalism


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