Non-traditional pathways in initial teacher education: A critique of research findings and policy implications

Kwok Chan LAI

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Non-traditional pathways or alternative routes for initial teacher education have proliferated in the United States and the United Kingdom (Berliner, 2006; Furlong, 2005), and are being advocated in Australia and a number of European countries (Buckingham, 2005; Eurydice, 2004). The impetus for this development has been largely contributed by government efforts to alleviate critical teacher shortages in high need subjects and geographical districts. However, the development has been accompanied by politicized attacks on the traditional requirements of university- or college-based initial teacher education which were perceived as deterring talented prospective teachers from entering the profession. Furthermore, a more fundamental change has been the criticism of the quality of university-based teacher education, and the shift of teacher education to school-based and employment-based routes (Abell Foundation, 2001; US Department of Education, 2002). This paper first provides a comparative analysis of the policy context and the development of alternative routes to teacher education in various countries, and reviews the research literature on the arguments for and against traditional and alternative routes of teacher education. It then traces the development of teacher education policy since the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 1997. It argues that there is substantial evidence to support the claim that government policy has been influenced by the developments of alternative routes of teacher preparation elsewhere, which has partly contributed to its wavering over whether to implement the "all graduate, all trained" policy objective announced by the Chief Executive in 1997. This policy shift has illustrated the long and difficult process of teacher professionalization in Hong Kong and may provide useful insights for other parts of the world.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2006



Lai, K. C. (2006, November). Non-traditional pathways in initial teacher education: A critique of research findings and policy implications. Paper presented at the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA) International Conference 2006: Educational Research, Policy and Practice in an Era of Globalization, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


  • Teacher Education
  • Teacher Education and Professional Development