Scaling teacher professional development in a time of crisis —TPD@Scale Coalition for the Global South

With the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has made it extremely challenging to scale teacher professional development in the Global South, as well as push for inclusive education, in general. According to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report, many teachers still lack adequate training and quality global data on teacher training remains “patchy”. It also states that 40% of the poorest countries under lockdown have been unable to support at-risk learners – those excluded because of poverty, location, gender, disability, language, ethnicity, religion, or other socio-economic factors. School shutdowns due to community restrictions have slowed down governments’ implementation of learning continuity, as well as education initiatives of international development institutions, civil society groups, and nonprofit organizations. 

Despite these challenges, the TPD@Scale Coalition for the Global South continued to reach out to its partners in education and development. Its membership grew to 21, with the addition of RTI International. More opportunities to share and/or study TPD scaling initiatives were opened by a number of new partnerships, including ones with Brookings Institution’s Center for Universal Education, the Asian Development Bank, Save Our Future, and awarded grants by the Global Partnership for Education’s Knowledge and Innovation Exchange . In response to the pandemic, with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) the Coalition also published the Teacher’s Guide for Remote Learning During School Closures and Beyond, a decision-making guide in response to school closures brought on by the crisis.

TPD@Scale Philippines

The Coalition Secretariat, FIT-ED, continued to provide technical assistance and research support to the Department of Education (DepEd) and its TPD arm, the National Educators Academy of the Philippines (NEAP). Activities include:

  • ELLN Digital scale up research. Following DepEd’s national scale up in July 2019 of ELLN Digital, a blended learning course for K to 3 teachers on teaching literacy and numeracy, FIT-ED embarked on a mixed methods evaluation of the scale up implementation comprising of a national survey of participating schools divisions and in-depth case studies of two schools divisions. Although data collection became a challenge when a national lockdown was imposed mid-March because of the pandemic, research activities continued remotely for the rest of the year. 
  • TPD@Scale model for NEAP. FIT-ED co-developed with Coalition member NEAP a national TPD@Scale model operationalized through two courses in support of DepEd’s shift to remote learning during the pandemic — a Learning Delivery Modalities Course for Division and School Leaders (LDM 1) and a Learning Delivery Modalities Course for Teachers (LDM2). Designed for online and blended delivery, both courses have a study component (80 hours for leaders, 40 hours for teachers) and a practicum component running through the school year (October 2020 to June 2021). LDM1 was launched in July 2020, with about 65% (30,000) of all school leaders in the country completing the study component by end September. LDM2 was rolled out in August 2020 to over 700,000 teachers across the country. The NEAP @scale model was adapted from the ELLN Digital model, incorporating practice-based design, independent learning of standardized content, collaborative learning in Learning Action Cells (LACs), provision of learner support, formative and summative assessments of learners, and periodic school readiness assessments to measure improvement.

TPD@Scale Indonesia

TPD@Scale Indonesia is a partnership between the Coalition Secretariat and the Putera Sampoerna Foundation – School Development Outreach (PSF-SDO) to co-design, develop, and test a TPD@Scale model based on PSF-SDO’s Teacher Learning Center (TLC) program. 

This year, Cher Ping Lim, Research and Development Manager of the Coalition, along with Juliana and Min Liang, wrote a paper using activity theory to examine one TLC in Kudus, a regency in Central Java, Indonesia. The paper, TPD@Scale Indonesia published a case study on Putera Sampoerna Foundation’s Teacher Learning Center (TLC) Program on the Asia Pacific Education Review, was published on Springer through the support of IDRC. 

TPD@Scale Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)

SUMMA: Laboratory of Education Research and Innovation for Latin America and the Caribbean, the regional head of TPD@Scale LAC, organized the following activities:

Regional mobilization and networking activities. 

  • SUMMA activated the TPD@Scale LAC network on the Co+Incide platform.
  • Five webinars on TPD@Scale were also held and completed in April. Two more webinars on the Landscape Review and the Ecuador Case Study are being planned. 
  • SUMMA is in the process of producing a Working Paper based on the TPD@Scale LAC Landscape Review. 
  • SUMMA produced “How to offer feedback in online environments”, a webinar on TPD@Scale. The event saw over 1,000 participants and has gathered over 20,000 views.

For more information on SUMMA’s activities, visit  

COVID-19 Response

In response to the pandemic, on April 30, 2020, the Coalition released a Teacher’s Guide for Remote Learning During School Closures and Beyond for rapid start up and continuity of learning. The Coalition website currently features this guide in nine (9) languages: Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Korean, Portugese, Spanish, and Filipino (Tagalog). 

In support of the Teacher’s Guide, RTI International created video walkthroughs for easier access and comprehension of the guide. To further exemplify key tasks in the guide, teacher interviews from Chile, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Peru, and the Philippines and additional resources such as curated playlists of supplementary resources (What, Who, How) have been released.

The page also features members’ own organization-led responses designed for their respective regions.


The Coalition was awarded funding to implement the TPD@Scale project, Adapting and scaling teacher professional development approaches in Ghana, Honduras, and Uzbekistan, as part of the Global Partnership for Education’s Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (GPE KIX) Global Grants program. The project is being undertaken by FIT-ED (Project Lead), Worldreader (Ghana Lead), SUMMA (Honduras Lead) and UNESCO Tashkent (Uzbekistan Lead). Freda Wolfenden of the Open University (UK) is heading the Research Team as Principal Investigator. The project is currently at the contextualisation phase, and is expected to proceed with customisation of TPD@Scale models and testing during the first half of 2021. 

School Leadership Research Grant

The Coalition received an IDRC grant to work with school leaders in marginalized contexts to build their capacity to use data to develop and test solutions to problems of practice in a blended (online/ offline) improvement science approach. School leaders and researchers at each research site will work together as a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) following a series of PDSA cycles (Plan, Do, Study, Act) to design, implement and assess local adaptations to school, classroom and community processes which foster and develop individual and collective resilience in learning, with particular attention to digital practices. Where appropriate, changes will utilize digital pedagogies to disrupt the reproduction of educational inequalities and improve learning engagement for all students. Changes may be implemented within or without classrooms depending on the local conditions, in response to COVID-19. 

The project aims to contribute to strengthened practice of school leaders in a range of marginalized contexts through use of data-driven decision-making, and to contribute to policy and practice through establishing the extent to which an improvement science approach offers a methodology for school leaders to affect pedagogic change in their school systems. The project covers four countries in three regions: Chile, the Philippines, Kenya and Uganda, and is being implemented by FIT-ED in partnership with SUMMA, Worldreader, and International Alert Philippines.


In terms of knowledge generation, the Coalition is fortunate to have published or contributed to the following papers this year:

  • Lim, C.P., Juliana & Liang, M. (2020). An activity theory approach toward teacher professional development at scale (TPD@Scale): A case study of a teacher learning center in Indonesia. Asia Pacific Educ. Rev. 21, 525–538. 
  • Lim, C.P., Tinio, V., Smith, M., Zou, E.W., & Modesto III, J.E. (2020). Teacher professional development at scale in the global south (pp.229-236). In B., Panth. & R., MacLean (Eds.). Anticipating and Preparing for Emerging Skills and Jobs. Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects, Vol 55. Springer, Singapore.
  • EdTech Hub. (2020). EdTech and COVID-19 response. Background paper prepared for the Save Our Future white paper Averting an Education Catastrophe for the World’s Children. Save Our Future. 

The Coalition looks forward to continuing its research, technical assistance, and knowledge sharing in scaling TPD in the Global South in the new year. With the support of its members and in partnership with ministries of education, the Coalition will continue to play a role in building more resilient models of quality, inclusive, and sustainable education for teachers and learners. Now more than ever, institutions must come together in building and rebuilding a better future.

Stay up-to-date with the Coalition Secretariat and its members through our social media accounts. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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