Institutions, Level and Models of Training
The initial teacher training is provided by private and public higher education institutions (HEIs). Regarding public universities, the teaching faculties at Durrës, Elbasan, Gjirokastër, Korça, Shkodër and Vlora universities prepare elementary school teachers. Lower secondary school teachers are trained at teaching faculties at Elbasan, Gjirokastër, Korça, Shkodër and Vlora universities. The preparation of upper secondary school teachers takes place at the University of Tirana, Gjirokastër, Korça and Shkodër. Teachers of physical education are prepared at the Sports University of Tirana. There are 13 private universities that offer 16 programmes in different levels of teachers’ education.
The initial teacher education (ITE) is provided by public and private higher education institutions (HEIs). Study programs preparing teachers for pre-school and primary education are structured in two cycles: a) Bachelor study program which educates teachers for pre-school education; b) Professional Master study program which prepares teachers for primary education. Study programs preparing teachers for lower and upper secondary education are offered as Master study programs of the second cycle with 120 credits. In second cycle study programs for teachers 25% of total credits should correspond to general psycho-pedagogical education. Second cycle study programs nationwide, preparing teachers in the same field of study must have at least 80 % similar content of the total curriculum. These new legal provisions may help to increase the alignment of the ITE programmes with the new competence-based curriculum and improve teachers’ psycho - pedagogical preparation as well.
Curricula of initial teacher education have also undergone a reform, with the development of clear guidelines relating to the core curriculum and reduced number of subjects. They are now more focused on pedagogical and methodological aspects of all curricula, key skills, ICT, the English language, pre-university curricula, research and teaching practices in schools. In addition, the process of the compilation of the initial teacher education curriculum has also taken the labour market into consideration and it reflects the actual needs of the profession of teachers.
Currently the Ministry is having talks with HEIs about designing new curricula of ITE (initial teacher education) which should be in line with the competence-based curricula being already implemented in the pre-university education system. IED prepared a study in 2016 to this regard. Several HEIs actually offer study programmes (bachelor and master) in specialized pedagogy, thus preparing assistant teachers whom can work with children with disabilities.
After completing bachelor and master studies, candidate teachers should also pass the state exam for teacher certification in order to be employed as a teacher. The Centre for Educational Services (former Agency of National Exams) manages the state exam for teacher certification. The state exam is conducted by computer at the CES headquarters in Tirana twice per year, in July (first session) and November - December (second session).
The Law on Pre-university Education specifies that in order to teach in primary and secondary schools teachers must obtain a second cycle diploma of university studies. In addition, as provided in the Law on the Regulated Professions with subordinate legal acts and amendments), a person who wishes to become a teacher must also fulfil criteria for practicing a regulated profession and thus to perform professional practice and to take the state examination. Therefore, primary and secondary school teachers have the right to teach upon successful completion of professional internship during their induction period and passing the state exam.
Curriculum, Level of Specialisation and Learning Outcomes
Curricula of teacher education faculties and departments have also undergone a reform, with the development of clear guidelines relating to the core curriculum and reduced number of subjects. They are now more focused on pedagogical and methodological aspects, key skills, ICT, the English language, research and teaching practices in schools. In addition, the process of the compilation of the teacher education curriculum has also taken the labour market into consideration and it reflects the actual needs of the profession of teachers.
Universities (i.e. faculty councils and academic senates) are responsible for teacher education curricula. There is no general document on teacher competencies or standards for ITE. The profile of future teachers, their competences, curricula and mission, are described in the university documents submitted to the Agency for Accreditation and the Ministry when applying for permission to offer teacher education programmes.
The standards for teacher education and competences have been designed by IDE but are still in the process of approval by the Minister of Education and Science. They include two kinds of standards: general standards and subject content standards. They define, among other areas, teachers’ scientific competences, teaching and learning competences, competences for teaching and learning for pupils with difficulties, teachers’ ethics and conduct, and collaboration with the community.
Due to the current lack of national standards on teacher education, there are significant pedagogical differences between curricula offered by various universities. The number of university courses differs for each university as does the composition of the programme and organisation of the subjects during a semester.
There are, however, some basic common components of teacher education curricula, such as pedagogical (professional) preparation, specialised subject preparation, school practice and the final exam or thesis. Pedagogical courses usually account for 35% of the total number of ECTS credits and are better incorporated in curricula for secondary school teachers. The rest are ‘academic’ courses, generally focusing on one major subject.
Starting from the 2008/2009 academic year, the component of research has been strengthened and emphasised. All Master degree programmes are to realize the aims of the research component through: (a) a course on research in education, (b) integration of teaching with research, and (c) a research Master’s thesis. Nevertheless, some recent findings show that developing research skills is a component almost non-existent in teacher education curricula.
Regarding practice currently, there are two models of teaching practice that are applied in Initial Training Education:
In-class observation and active professional practice. In the framework of observations, students are asked to attend and observe five classes per week. In terms of active practice, student teachers are asked to teach five hours per week. However, the proportion of time spent specifically on professional training and the number of credits for a teaching internship vary not only across different universities, but also between departments and faculties within the same university (e.g. from 10 ECTS in lower secondary education to 16 ECTS in primary education in the 2010/2011 academic year).
School practice is supervised by the university, which is responsible for assigning students to schools and cooperation with their principals to provide mentorship during students’ practice hours. Yet, the tutoring or mentoring system is underdeveloped and there are cases when university teachers responsible for this component of a programme have no experience in school teaching. Also, teachers who are appointed at school to assist practising student teachers often have no qualifications to fulfil this responsibility.
As further proposed by recent graduates from HEIs providing teacher education, this could be achieved by the triggering following development:
providing support from mentoring teachers, who have extensive knowledge on different problems related to teaching;
- increasing the number school practice hours;
- introducing a practical module for class administration and evaluation of the competences; and,
- creating possibilities for meetings devoted to peer-learning and exchange of experience.
Lecturers at teacher training faculties aren’t bound to have a scientific degree. Teacher staff is expected to progress in terms of acquiring scientific degree and develop as researchers and scientists in their discipline.
Qualifications, Evaluation and Certificates
The Law on Pre-university Education specifies that in order to teach in primary and secondary schools teachers must obtain a second cycle diploma of university studies. In addition, as provided in the Law on the Regulated Professions with subordinate legal acts and amendments), a person who wishes to become a teacher must also fulfil criteria for practising a regulated profession and thus to perform professional practice and to take the state examination. Therefore, primary and secondary school teachers have the right to teach upon successful completion of professional internship during their induction period and passing the state exam.
Teachers can also obtain qualifications in the course of their career. Based on their work experience and training (documented in professional portfolio) and successful passing of the examination for the respective qualification category, primary and secondary school teachers are eligible for three levels of qualification after 5, 10 and 20 years of teaching. They can be promoted to:
- ‘Qualified teachers’ after at least 5 years of experience;
- ‘Specialised teachers’ after at least 10 years of practice (but min. 5 years after becoming ‘qualified teachers’);
- ‘Master teachers’ after at least 20 years of experience (but minimum 10 years after becoming ‘specialised teachers’).
Promotion is connected to pay increases (determined by the decision of the Council of Ministers) to help differentiate teacher salaries by professional merit. The criteria and procedures of qualification of teachers shall be set out by instruction of the Minister.
Teacher qualifications are managed and monitored by Institute for Education Development and Regional Education Directorates, Education Offices.
Alternative Training Pathways
In-service teacher training is provided by public or private organisations training agencies with accredited training programmes, selected in open competition, which have sufficient capacities to achieve the objectives and provide the content anticipated by the training programmes. Training is also carried out by non-governmental service providers. The role of universities in in-service teacher training provision is limited in contrast to ITE, which is their dominant activity.
The main central bodies responsible for CPD of teachers are the Unit of Human Resources at the Ministry and IDE. The Ministry is responsible for supervision and organisation of CPD, while IDE plans and compiles the standards and modules for teacher training. IDE is also in charge of the induction period for novice teachers.
At local/regional level, teacher training is organised and managed by the Education Offices, according to the annual plan of training and qualification activities. Training is also organised by schools in line with schools’ annual plan of activities in the domain of professional development according to subject departments.
As for the financing of in-service teacher training, it comes from the individual contribution of the educational employee, state budget, projects of local and foreign non-profit-making organisations, foundations, institutions, and other legal sources. The budget devoted to teacher training is considered insufficient to meet the needs in this area and teachers claim they have no financial resources to pay for their CPD.