A quick note in response to Rob Van Son's rich post on the edutech debates (I'm traveling, I'm using my phone for this post, it could be casual). Mr Van Son generally suggests that it's impossible to increase the number of effective teachers worldwide because: 1) millions of them would be needed; 2) paying their salaries year in and year out would require a massive shift in funding priorities; 3) how could they be trained in a timely manner.
The following post might provide another way of looking at the information in Mr Van Son's otherwise hyper-Informed post. In many countries, rural schools have few students [ok there are a lot of factors in play in these situations]. Small numbers of students is one reason that multi-grade classrooms are so strongly supported by donors, and by some ministries of edu.
Analysis of this situation in Indonesia suggested that many classes in rural areas were unsustainably small. And that teachers in those schools were poorly educated and trained. These observations led to the 2005
"teacher law," requiring that all teachers have a 4-year degree and promising that those teachers would receive double the current pay (with an additional 50 percent increase if they agreed to a posting in a REMOTE [not rural, most of Indonesia is rural] area).
These teacher-focused measures demonstrate how unintended consequences can mar even the cleverest efforts.
Enrollment in schools of education is rocketing because the potential pay for teachers (especially if you sign up to work in a remote area [another story, which I hope someone else addresses]). One professor explained to me that his school would graduate about 200 Teachers in 2009, but none of them would be placed in government schools.
Part of the problem is that management of the schools themselves is split between the central government and the provinces (as a result of radical decentralization following the end of the Suharto dictatorship).nas in many systems, the central govt simply can't trim its teacher corps as it would like.
But the simpler problem is also the grander problem: by increasing teachers' pay, MONE increased the supply of new teachers, while its efforts to increase class size (and decrease the number if teachers overall) has effectively reduced demand for teachers. If these new graduates were commodities, we'd call the phenomenon an inventory surplus; as it is, we can call it policy-generated structural unemployment.
For a great and far-more-detailed analysis of this problem--and a good example of impact analysis of policy in general, see "the economics of teacher supply in Indonesia" by Dandan Chen of the world bank.