The University of New England has won a $6 million AusAID grant to set up a National Research Centre for Teacher Quality in the Philippines. The nationally competitive grant will fund a project in which staff members from the UNE-based National Centre of Science, ICT and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR National Centre) will help the Philippines Normal University (PNU) to establish the new Centre on PNU’s Manila campus.
“This grant represents national and international recognition for the achievements of UNE’s SiMERR National Centre during the past decade,” said Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of The Professions at UNE. “SiMERR has made a significant contribution to teacher education, and has enabled both teachers and students to gain the knowledge and skills required to meet essential workforce requirements for future generations.”
Professor John Pegg, Director of the SiMERR National Centre, is leading the project. Professor Pegg said SiMERR’s many research achievements that contributed to the success of the grant application included the validation of national professional teaching standards – a project that will see teachers in every Australian State and Territory come under a common four-stage career framework from 2013.
He said that the three-year project (with an extension of a further two years depending on need and progress) would result in the establishment of a world-class research centre based on the SiMERR model. “At the end of the project, PNU will have an autonomous research organisation of international standing that has active research groups involved across the country,” he said.
“The Government of the Philippines is replacing its current Year 1 – Year 10 school education system with a K-12 system,” Professor Pegg explained. “This will require extensive in-service training for teachers and teacher educators, and the re-conceptualisation of university education – particularly in teacher training.”
“This is the SiMERR National Centre’s biggest and most complex project so far,” he said, “covering everything from curriculum development for teachers and teacher educators to the establishment and monitoring of national Philippine professional teaching standards.”
The project funding will provide for the regular movement of SiMERR and PNU staff members between the two institutions, and additional opportunities for postgraduate student research at UNE. “This project will expand UNE’s international research agenda, and enhance its international reputation through high-level collaboration with another nation in addressing vital and challenging education issues,” Professor Pegg said.
Professor Minichiello said it would result in “the development of shared training and research expertise – in an area of great importance to both countries – in this, the ‘Asian Century’”.