Developing unions’ capacity to undertake research, and broadening existing research activities, across Africa, was the focus of a recent EI Regional Research Network meeting.
Held in Accra, Ghana, on 11-12 November, the meeting encouraged participants to link their research and advocacy work and gather evidence on which to base their claims. The meeting was attended by representatives of 20 teacher unions from 17 countries in Africa.
Key issues and strategic use of research
Access to quality and equitable education and teachers’ working conditions are major challenges facing the region, according to keynote speaker Professor Pai Obanya, former academic at the University of Ibadan-Nigeria and member of EI’s Committee of Experts.
Another presentation, by EI’s Research Unit, outlined recent studies relevant to the African region, including Global managerial education reforms and teachers, Public Private Partnerships in education, Learning how to teach: The upgrading of unqualified primary teachers in sub-Saharan Africa, Teacher supply, recruitment and retention in sub-Saharan countries, and Global corporate taxation and resources for quality public services.
Meanwhile, EI’s Africa regional office told participants about its ongoing study on unions’ fragmentation that will result in regional policy recommendations.
In a plenary roundtable, participants discussed framing key issues and identified priorities for research. Some of the topics addressed were class sizes, privatisation and its impact in equitable access to education, inequities derived from geographic disparities, gender and professional status.
Short presentations on recent and ongoing research projects were also made, including a joint research project by NAGRAT (Ghana) and CAUT (Canada) on class size, internal teacher mobility research by ZNUT (Zambia), and a study on equitable access to quality basic education in Ghana by Professor Jerome Djangmah (University of Ghana).
Building up research to support advocacy
Participants were also trained on how to design a research project and use it effectively to develop policy. Five working groups outlined draft research proposals around common issues identified the previous day.
The research proposals were on:
- The impact of teacher recruitment policies on education quality;
- The implications of expanding access to free public education on teachers’ work with a special focus on class sizes;
- The implications of privatisation on access to quality education;
- The conditions of teachers in private primary schools in a series of African countries.
In addition, keynote speaker Professor Keith Lewin from University of Sussex presented the programme of research, Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE).
EI: Conclusions and follow-up
“The Regional Research Network will help to strengthen the capacity of unions to actively engage in social dialogue and support the development of evidence-based advocacy on key priorities and challenges for teachers’ organisations in the region,” said Assibi Napoe, EI Regional Coordinator in Africa.
As part of the Unite for Quality Education campaign, EI will seek to support affiliates in the implementation of two joint research projects and corresponding advocacy work in the African region.
All EI research studies are available for downloading here