Reconsidering Teachers’ Roles (VII). Edem Adubra: Enhancing the status and professionalism of teachers in the digital age

Notes from the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning VIII International Seminar: Teacher Training: Reconsidering Teachers’ Roles, held in Barcelona, Spain, on October 6-7, 2011. More notes on this event: eLChair11.

Edem Adubra, Chief of the Section for Teacher Policy and Development, UNESCO Paris, France
Enhancing the status and professionalism of teachers in the digital age: UNESCO’s perspective

Teachers are a priority in the framework of Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) implementation. At a global level, the role of teachers has been mentioned in major conferences and reports related to EFA and MDGs. And this role has increasingly been mentioned in parallel with the important role of technology in education, both as key players of the development of education.

UNESCO has five main functions:

  1. Laboratory of ideas, including foresight on the future of education.
  2. Standard-setter, helping to set educational policies.
  3. Clearing house.
  4. Capacity-builder in UNESCO’s fields of competence.
  5. Catalyst for international cooperations.

UNESCO’s Teacher Education programme provides training and management, advice on policies and quality assurance, information on gender and ICTs, etc. including a Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel that was issued jointly with ILO.

In the field of capacity development, UNESCO works in the intersection of ICTs and teacher education, assisting with the development and adaptation of online tools and resources, with a focus on open educational resources (OERs) and guidelines for the effective use of ICT in teacher education, including how to adapt curricula, methodologies and syllabuses.

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is also an important part in capacity development for teachers.

UNESCO usually partners too with the private sector to be able to carry on specific projects: Microsoft, Intel, Varkey GEMS Foundation, Nokia, etc. We need to bring the expertise of those who are working in the field to know what is working and what is not, so that UNESCO’s policies and actions are guided by research and real experience.


Emma Kiselyova: what can be done to increase the adoption and impact of the recommendations, resources and outcomes in general of conferences and committees related to education? Adubra: Curricula and teachers’ practices are very difficult to change overnight. We have to have a clear and smooth implementation plan, and this is what is lacking. And most of the research on these topics remains closed within the “ivory towers” of academic publishing, with serious flaws concerning outreach and with an arguable lack of effectiveness.

Q: how can we avoid the “westernization” of teaching all over the world? how can we embed in international policies the way of thinking that is not from Western countries? Can ICT be used outside of Western educational context? Adubra: surely governments have a crucial role in “transposing” international recommendations to the context of their own populations. And the responsibility of education is to tame technologies so that they do not destroy, but help in the building of a society.

Arthur Preston: what strategies can we put up in practice to fight the digital divide in education? Adubra: basic infrastructures are a prior stage that has to be addressed. Education and ICT in Education cannot be treated as an isolated matter, but within a bigger framework.

Q: how do we use technology for assessment? Adubra: we promote participatory teaching, collaborative learning, but our assessment (especially State-level ones) still is based on pencil and paper, writing essays, etc. Maybe, instead of trying to organize new assessment strategies yet again at the State-level, what we should focus is on teacher training on new assessment methodologies, and afterwards see how we make them compatible or comparable one to another.

More information


UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning VIII International Seminar: Teacher Training: Reconsidering Teachers' Roles (2011)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2011) “Reconsidering Teachers’ Roles (VII). Edem Adubra: Enhancing the status and professionalism of teachers in the digital age” In ICTlogy, #97, October 2011. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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