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Teacher educators' professional identity formation in a challenging context : experience from Eritrea
In Eritrea, the education sector is currently under reform pursuing to equip the teacher education to meet the country’s critical need for sufficiently qualified teachers. Here, teacher educators have a critical role in defining the quality of teacher education. Earlier research suggests that examining the implications of teacher educators’ professional identity formation for their professional development is crucial in developing the quality of future teachers. Yet, little is known of the identities and practices of teacher educators in Eritrea. This study thus focuses on examining the relationship between the teacher educators’ professional identities and their allegedly challenging working environment, and further factors that affect their identity formation. The research data was collected at the College of Education in Eritrea by interviewing 10 local teacher educators. The data was further analyzed by using a qualitative content analysis. The complexity of the Eritrean teacher educators’ working conditions is mirrored against their professional identity formation, which further structures their work in practice. The findings bring forward external (material, programmatic and sociocultural) challenges the teacher educators face in their social context and consequently hinder their professional identity formation. They are confronted with high, even unachievable, demands on their profession without much formal training for the profession or actual possibilities to participate in the development of their own field. Yet, collegial support, knowledge-sharing, and the educators’ both personal and collective motivation to contribute to the community were found to strengthen their professional identity formation and somewhat override the challenges. The findings thus suggest a more purposeful preparation of teacher educators and creation of collaborative learning communities in strengthening teacher educators’ identities and filling up the gaps in knowledge for, in and of the practice of teacher educating. ...
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