Children in Sierra Leone © Clayton R. Wright

Clayton R. Wright, formerly Director of Instructional Media and Development at Grant MacEwan University, Alberta, is currently working in Sierra Leone.

He kindly agreed to share these observations on teacher education in Africa (and the great photo):

  • A junior high teacher makes US$100 per month in Sierra Leone.
  • In several sub-Saharan countries, a teacher dies every two hours because of HIV/AIDS.
  • In Lesotho, the number of teachers who die from HIV/AIDS is twice the number that graduate from teachers’ colleges each year.
  • In some areas, many teachers haven’t been paid for months, thus they have a second or third job.
  • Africa needs 3.8 million teachers by 2015 to achieve the Millennium Goal of free public education for all.

Building teacher training facilities to meet the demand for teachers in Africa by 2015 does not seem feasible from my viewpoint. Distance education is definitely one option available to ministries of education.

One of the significant benefits to distance education in a developing country context is that teachers can remain at their posts and interact with learners, family, and the community. They can apply what they are learning immediately to their situation and save the government money as teachers taking distance courses don’t need to be replaced as would be the situation if they attended regular face-to-face teacher training colleges.

Major distance education projects are being undertaken by the African Virtual University, the Southern African Development Community, and Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA).

Thanks, Clayton. If I can add my own comments:

The new U.S. National Educational Technology Plan also recommends online training for teachers, so that they are aware of how to teach online. Accreditation agencies however need to accept that teachers can qualify at a distance, and this is slow in coming. Face-to-face teaching practice in particular is seen as crucial requirement for most accreditation agencies.

If any of you have direct experience of training teachers by distance education, in Africa or anywhere else, what is your experience? Does it work? Is it a solution? Or are there major drawbacks?


  1. The facts on teachers in Africa are dangerous. The global educational community should come forward to address their needs immediately. Africa should also define their educational needs at global level.

  2. Th e african Countries are at stake even the young kids they read the articles pertaining the problems that are facing the continent.What if the aid agencies and the related stakeholders take an initiative rather singing the same song?

  3. Dear Clayton R. Wright , my name is Mamadou i’m a student at Bmcc New-York. I sent this e-mail to let you know and to thank you for this wonderfull job that you did. I used this picture posted to present my work in my art class and because of that i had nice images that match to my topic “Education for all in Africa”.

    • Dear Mamadou: Glad I could unknowingly be of assistance. Perhaps you could post the results of your work on the Web so others can obtain a better understanding of “Education for All in Africa”.

  4. What Clayton says is true. Distance learning would have trianed more teachers than we have today as well as those unqualified teachers who are already in the system.Am an example.If you want to learn from europe and America through distance learning you cant pay the fees neither can you stop the job you are doing to become a full time learner.Infact is unfortunate and pathetic


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