Teachers – an Indispensable Asset: Examining Teacher Effectiveness in South Asia
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Across the realms of educational research and policy-making, it is universally acknowledged that teacher effectiveness forms a fundamental determinant of children’s learning experiences. Low educational outcomes have dogged policy-makers across South Asia and many parts of the rest of the developing world. This has resulted in significant attention being devoted to examining the role that teachers can play in providing a better educational experience for future generations. This chapter maps out the journey of a teacher from the moment they decide to enter this once hallowed vocation that now bears the brunt of much criticism. This chapter examines fundamental aspects of teacher effectiveness in select South Asian countries. In doing so, it hopes to highlight the key factors that differentiate a good teacher from a poor one in a bid to provide policy pointers to improve teacher effectiveness and ultimately student learning. While it is understood that teachers matter, what it is about them that makes them differentially effective has confounded researchers and policy-makers alike. This issue is further complicated by the absence of evidence that any traditional observable teacher characteristics (e.g. training, experience, qualifications) explain any of this variation in student scores. Researchers have examined a wide range of traditional teacher characteristics as well as more nuanced issues such as that of teaching style and practice (Aslam and Kingdon, 2011). And while there is a wealth of research into this topic, the findings have been frustratingly mixed.