28 Sep 2011

Africa education project receives global accolade

TESSA (Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa), a project working to increase the number of skilled teachers in African schools, has received global recognition with an award from The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). Receiving $20,000 as a prize, the project is one of six winners in 2011 and was praised by the judging panel for its “outstanding quality and…exceptional impact.”

The annual awards, which will be celebrated at the WISE summit in Doha, Qatar, in November, are designed to showcase innovative educational projects from around the world, spread best practice and build the future of education.

The TESSA project develops and supports school-based training for teachers and student teachers in 12 African countries. There is a critical shortage of teachers across Africa and many, especially those at primary level, have little training. Led by The Open University, the TESSA project brings together 20 universities and organisations across those countries involved, giving teachers access to high-quality resources which they can use to develop their own practices without leaving the school. For teachers in remote areas, this way of training and developing their own skills and gaining resources is invaluable.

TESSA Director Freda Wolfenden said, “Every day in Africa, 38 million children miss out on primary school and many more do not start secondary school. The critical shortage of trained teachers and the importance of high-quality teaching in shaping pupils’ experiences are crucial to addressing this. The TESSA project is helping to make a real impact in these areas, with increased engagement of pupils and improved classroom skills and competencies of teachers. The financial prize from this award will help us to draw together and disseminate learning from the project. We hope in return that this will attract further funders to reach even more teachers and pupils across Africa.”

Since 2005 more than 400,000 teachers and student teachers have benefitted from TESSA resources, which are not copyright-protected and are designed to be easy and cheap to reproduce. As Open Educational Resources they are available to all, enabling teachers to adapt and share materials. TESSA materials are being increasingly used in informal school development activities.

Editor's notes
About TESSA:
TESSA operates in in Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Further programmes in Togo and Malawi are now employing TESSA resources.

About the WISE awards:
20 Finalists were selected for the WISE Awards 2011. Chosen from among hundreds of applications received from all regions of the world, these finalists were selected by the WISE Awards 2011 Pre-Jury under the theme of Transforming Education: Investment, Innovation and Inclusion. Every year, a Pre-Jury and a Jury, composed of leading experts, select six winning innovative projects for their concrete and positive impact upon education and societies. Since the start of the Awards in 2009, over 1,300 applications from 116 countries have been received.

The selected Awards finalists and winners act as a reference and set new standards for the international community. In addition to benefiting from the recognition of leading experts from the educational world, the winning projects are formally presented with a cash prize of $20,000 (US) and are given access to international exposure to encourage the sharing of best practices worldwide.

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