João Batista Oliveira and François Orivel
Education budgets in both rich and poor countries face resource scarcity. In those countries where the number of children is decreasing, teacher salaries and improved conditions of work such as smaller class sizes require more expenditure per pupil. But the budgets for these must compete with other societal demands, including those of an increasingly older and politically powerful population. In those countries where the number of children is still increasing - it is estimated that the next thirty years will see an additional billion children in the developing world - millions of teachers will be needed. Hence the need for planners and decision-makers to identify cost-effective alternatives for teacher education and training and for deploying adequately trained teachers in schools.
Teacher training paradigms are also changing and more educational technologies are being used in formal and informal teacher development settings. These settings are also changing, becoming more open to - or even dependent on - the use of information and communications technologies. So far, it has often been considered sufficient to train teachers through conventional, face-to-face methods. This is now increasingly questioned in a world where, in addition to technological progress, demographic and economic factors require new models of teaching and learning and new ways of organizing schools in response to rapidly changing circumstances. This new educational era therefore calls for substantial changes in the ways in which teachers are educated and for them then to be constantly upgraded in their knowledge and skills. Understanding the costs and the effectiveness of alternatives for training teachers is therefore no longer simply an academic exercise or a question of conducting a search for cheaper alternatives: it becomes imperative to determine the most effective ways of deploying scarce funds for the accomplishment of affordable but high-quality teacher education.
It is curious to note that in spite of their increasing importance, cost-effectiveness studies are becoming rarer in the literature. There are several possible explanations for this. There may be a feeling that the issue is