Research evidence shows that various kinds of teacher training, capacity building and work experience have positive effects on education quality. Having well-trained and experienced teachers in schools is just as important as good education materials and good relationships between teachers and communities. However, children in rural Ethiopia face shortages of well-trained, experienced and motivated teachers. This paper seeks to understand the characteristics of teachers who teach the children in the Young Lives sample, the views of teachers and headteachers on the links between teacher quality and the quality of the education they deliver, and finally, the challenges that teachers in Ethiopia face in their attempt to provide a good education to the children they work with. The paper uses both quantitative and qualitative evidence from the first round of the Young Lives school survey carried out in 2010.
We begin with the argument that teacher training and development programmes and the presence of experienced teachers in schools should be included among the indicators of quality schooling. Using Young Lives school survey data, the paper empirically examines the degree to which factors such as teachers' own attitudes, school management and community perceptions impact on the quality of education. We find teacher motivation (material, financial, social, etc.) is just as important as teacher training in increasing access to quality education.
However, our findings emphasise the challenges inherent in assigning experienced teachers to remote schools where facilities and infrastructure are very poor. Consequently, the paper concludes that it is very difficult to provide access to quality education without properly managing factors related to teacher training and professional development, such as provision of well-run pre-service and inservice training plus continuous professional development focusing on content knowledge, pedagogy and language skills. Strengthening school-level management and promoting community participation in schools also reduces teachers' dissatisfaction and reduces the likelihood of their leaving the profession. Tackling all of these issues would improve the quality of education for children in rural Ethiopia.