Some 60 million teachers are currently in the education workforce throughout the world. In order to meet the targets agreed upon by the 180 delegates who in 2000 participated in the Education For All forum in Dakar, Senegal, a further 15 million teachers will be required between now and the year 2010. These figures do not include the replacements that will be needed for teachers absent from classrooms, young teachers dying or incapacitated by the HIV/AIDS scourge, early retirement and migration to other vocations. The worldwide challenge to train, retrain and continuously refresh the skills and knowledge of nations' education workforce is both enormous and urgent. Apart from relying on traditional ways of providing this training and retraining, governments and all other parties interested in the health of global education need to explore other methods of teacher education and training. One option is the application of distance education in order to deliver teacher training much more aggressively.
The chapters contained in this third volume of the World Review of Distance Education and Open Learning consider the experience, strengths, weaknesses, challenges, costs and effectiveness of teacher training by distance education. The chapters also consider policy issues and management challenges that governments and institutions encounter in using distance education. Although distance education itself is getting much more widely used in the delivery of liberal arts, sciences, business and computing and continuing professional studies, its use in teacher training is sporadic and often poorly resourced, especially in the developing nations of the world where it can provide maximum benefits.
The Commonwealth of Learning (COL), which has been co-sponsoring the World Review is committed to promoting wider use of distance education generally, and in teacher training, particularly. In two large regions, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the need for in-service training of under-qualified or untrained teachers is especially pressing. Not surprisingly, these two regions are also home to the most educationally deprived populations in the world. Not too long ago, policy secretaries