Teachers are at the heart of education, and their valuable work must also lead to better salaries and working conditions, the heads of three UN agencies and a partner organisation said on Wednesday.
They made this statement as part of their joint message to mark World Teachers’ Day, celebrated annually on 5th October.
The international community has committed to transform education – a process that must be led by teachers.
That’s the firm belief expressed by Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UN educational and cultural agency (UNESCO); Gilbert F. Houngbo, Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO); Catherine Russell, Executive Director at the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and David Edwards, Secretary-General of Education International.
“Today, on World Teachers’ Day, we celebrate the critical role of teachers in transforming learners’ potential by ensuring they have the tools they need to take responsibility for themselves, for others and for the planet,” they said.
“We call on countries to ensure that teachers are trusted and recognised as knowledge producers, reflective practitioners, and policy partners.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that teachers are the engines at the heart of global education systems, the statement said.
Without them, it is impossible to provide inclusive, equitable and quality education to every learner. Teachers are also essential to pandemic recovery and preparing learners for the future.
“Yet unless we transform conditions for teachers, the promise of that education will remain out of reach for those who need it most,” the partners warned.
They recalled that the Transforming Education Summit, held last month at UN Headquarters, reaffirmed that transformation requires the right number of empowered, motivated and qualified teachers and education personnel in the right place with the right skills.
However, in many parts of the world, classrooms are overcrowded, they said, and teachers are too few, on top of being overworked, demotivated and unsupported.
As a result, an unprecedented number are leaving the profession. There has also been a significant decline in people studying to become teachers.
“If these issues are not addressed, the loss of a professional teaching corps could be a fatal blow to the realization of Sustainable Development Goal 4,” they warned, referring to global efforts to ensure quality education for all, by 2030.
Furthermore, teacher loss disproportionately affects students in remote or poor areas, as well as women and girls, and vulnerable and marginalized populations.
The partners pointed to recent estimates which reveal an additional 24.4 million primary school teachers will be needed globally, along with some 44.4 million secondary education teachers, if the world is to achieve universal basic education by the end of the decade.
Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia alone will require 24 million more teachers, roughly half the number of new teachers needed in developing countries.
“Therefore, bringing qualified, supported and motivated teachers into classrooms – and keeping them there – is the single most important thing we can do to improve the learning and wellbeing of students and communities,” said the partners.
“The valuable work that teachers do must also be translated into better working conditions and pay.”
Source: Emirates News Agency