Table of Contents

  • Achievement of a balance between competing principles, demands and policies is a task with which the Commonwealth Secretariat is very familiar. Balancing the concerns and demands of the diverse and complex membership represented across its 53 member countries in five continents is nothing less than ‘business as usual’. When, therefore, Commonwealth Ministers of Education requested in the Teacher Recruitment Protocol adopted in 2004, a balancing of the rights of teachers to migrate internationally against the need to protect the integrity of national education systems and prevent the exploitation of recruited teachers, this was a task which the Commonwealth Secretariat undertook on behalf of its member countries with the experience of precedent, strengthened by full knowledge of its goals, objectives and aspirations.

  • This research report has been prepared by the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) at the request of the Commonwealth Steering Group on Teacher Qualifications following an earlier study on the recognition of teacher qualifications (SAQA and Commonwealth Secretariat 2006), and a pilot study on a teacher qualifications comparability table (SAQA 2007).

  • The challenges associated with the recognition and transferability of teacher qualifications across the Commonwealth are not new, and remain closely interrelated with the increased migration of skilled professionals internationally. For many years significant efforts in the Commonwealth have focused on addressing the skewed nature of teacher migration, mainly from developing countries (such as South Africa, Jamaica and India) to more developed countries (including United Kingdom, Australia and Canada), and finding ways in which this brain drain could be limited, and even reversed (see for example UNESCO 2006, ILO and UNESCO 2006, Miller 2007, Edwards and Spreen 2007, Ochs 2007, McNamara et al., 2007, Bertram et al., 2007, and Degazon-Johnson 2007). An area that has received less attention, probably for good reason as it can easily be seen to contribute to teacher migration, is the limited recognition of the qualifications and experience of teachers from sending countries (usually developing countries) working in receiving countries (often, but not always, more developed countries).

  • What does it mean to compare? Is it possible at all to establish equivalence by comparing educational qualifications? Who does the comparing, and to which specific ends? What are the broader purposes of comparison? Is comparison even possible for qualifications obtained in vastly unequal resource contexts? What exactly is ‘being compared’? Is it possible to compare ‘things’ that are not accessible to standard instruments of assessment, such as complex teaching and learning processes focused on demonstrable ‘outcomes’? How are comparisons validated? How does one use the data derived from the comparisons? One of the most visible effects of globalisation has been the mobility of skilled professionals across national borders. With such increasingly rapid movement of skills-carrying people, come the inevitable questions about qualifications and readiness to labour within another national context. This is one of the driving forces behind the growing acceptance of qualifications frameworks that clarify the meaning of a particular qualification within a single country (hence national qualification frameworks, such as the South African National Qualifications Framework), but also among nation states (hence regional qualification frameworks, such as the European Qualifications Framework). By making explicit the learning outcomes achieved at the end of a programme of study leading to the award of a qualification, it is argued that such transparency enables judgements to be made about the levels of training that led to such an accomplishment.

  • This section provides an overview of the initial primary and secondary teacher qualifications offered in the 35 participating Commonwealth member states, based on the data that were collected between September 2008 and February 2009. This section is an analysis of the more detailed information on each country that can be found in the Annex to this report in the format of a comparability table.

  • This final section of the report offers a few brief reflections on the research process in an attempt to contribute to the ongoing development of new technologies that can be used to increase the transparency of qualifications beyond those that were possible within the limitations of this study.