The Oscars in Education Sector and Marketing of Education Services
In late March, the education sector was treated to a glamorous event in Dubai, The Global Teacher Prize. It comes with an award of US$1Million, presented to the top nominee out of thousands of entries from around the world. In this year’s edition, a Kenyan teacher, Peter Tabichi, bagged the award. Congratulations Mwalimu! I always have a soft spot for teaching profession, as my parents were teachers and I almost followed suit.
Like any other award, this prize rewards effort of individuals who have made a significant contribution to the education sector. There is a rigorous process in selecting the winner. This starts from the thousands of nominations/submissions all the way to the last 10. The process cuts across countries, the different curricula from around the world, and targets teachers who interact with children, who are of differing abilities. The rigor is in the details of selecting that one teacher.
The overall impact lies in raising the profile of the teaching profession. The sector gains from not only wide media coverage but also in connecting the efforts of teachers to the daily lives of many around the world. The thousands of households around the world, who leave the destiny of their kids, to a large extent, be shaped by a teacher.
In many communities, especially in Africa, demand for education has always surpassed the available supply. Hence, basic numeracy and literacy skills and competences have been the key objectives in many countries within the continent. The push to ensure universal access to these skills has led to a gradual development in competences across other sectors, leading to a multiplier effect from accruing benefits in the economy. However, the implosion of technology and availability of resources is providing the sector with new opportunities to avail services for continuous education to the target students.
The current situation, therefore, provides a view of both the initial objectives in basic literacy and numeracy as well as an outlook of new realities of continuous education as a life journey. There is a need to bridge the gap between these views. This implies stakeholders have a role not only in meeting the basic objectives but also bridging the gap within the learning environment. There should be a gradual expansion, not only within the explicit curriculum but also lifelong learning. However, most schools have left all these roles to the teachers. There is no marketer or a communications department to push the message.
Programs and even brands in education sector within the continent are still struggling with providing information to help in bridging the gap from school system to enabling continuous learning facilities. This has forced many players across the continent to stick to providing products around the explicit curriculum. E.g. most publishers only provide hard copy textbooks; few learning management systems, which stick and replicate the existing curriculum; lack of unified uptake of digital learning experiences among other factors. The reason for this situation is due to various factors such as still the high demand for basic curriculum requirements; limited resources, especially in public schools; low stimulating environments for learning among other factors.
The market for education services is therefore not only widely diversified, but also highly fragmented. This provides that niche to offer personalized learning experiences. Impactful, functional learning will not come from ‘mass market’. This is the reason every student matters! Could this be the reason for Bro. Tabichi’s success, given the size of his school? Does personalization provide an opportunity for players within the wider education sector? What innovative approaches can the stakeholders take to enhance the learning experiences? These are some areas to consider in developing the sector.
Back to the award – in case one wants to nominate a teacher for the next year’s award, a nominee should demonstrate a combination of the following factors, according to the Global Teacher Prize website:
- Employing effective instructional practices that are replicable and scalable to influence the quality of education globally.
- Employing innovative instructional practices that address the particular challenges of the school, community or country and which have shown sufficient evidence to suggest they could be effective in addressing such challenges in a new way.
- Achieving demonstrable student learning outcomes in the classroom.
- Impact in the community beyond the classroom that provide unique and distinguished models of excellence for the teaching profession and others.
- Helping children become global citizens through providing them with a values-based education that equips them for a world where they will potentially live, work and socialise with people from many different nationalities, cultures and religions.
- Improving the teaching profession through helping to raise the bar of teaching, sharing best practice, and helping colleagues overcome any challenges they face in their school.
- Teacher recognition from governments, national teaching organisations, head-teachers, colleagues, members of the wider community or pupils.