The quality of teachers is becoming an increasingly high priority for governments around the world, as they attempt to improve their positions in international education league tables.
For the first time, from this autumn, prospective trainee teachers in England will need to pass basic skills tests in literacy and numeracy before beginning their courses. Previously, aspiring teachers could take the tests after their training and do as many resits as necessary. Now only two resits will be allowed. Tests in verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning skills will be introduced next year.
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development data shows that 11 of the 34 countries surveyed in 2010 required entrants to pass a competitive examination to be accepted to primary teacher training, and 10 countries had a competitive test for secondary teachers.
In the developing world, some countries face serious challenges in improving teacher quality. A Unesco report points out that although governments may have put in place minimum standards, not all teachers meet them, possibly because standards have been raised over time.