Displaying items by tag: World Teachers Day

Twitter-posterBy choosing this year’s theme to be “Young teachers: the future of the profession”, the World Teachers’ Day’s co-convening agencies wish to address one of the issues that has been plaguing the profession for some time now: how can the teaching profession attract and retain young, bright talents in the profession?

The global education goal, SDG 4, calls on countries to ensure that children are not only going to school but also learning, yet the proportion of teachers that are trained has been falling since 2000, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Even more worrisome, new projections by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report found that, at current trends, learning rates are expected to stagnate in middle-income countries, and drop by one-third in Francophone African countries by 2030. This would leave 20% of young people and 30% of adults still unable to read by 2030.

To turn these worrying trends around, we must invest in teachers, their education and professional development.


The reality of teaching

To get the real picture of teachers’ current training and working conditions, the Teacher Task Force collaborated with UIS and the GEM Report to produce a fact sheet giving the latest data on the global indicator for the Teacher Target.

Every learner has the right to be taught by a trained and qualified teacher. Unfortunately, this is not a reality for all of them. In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 64% of teachers were trained according to national standards at primary level in 2018-17. This share falls to 50% at secondary level. Comparatively in 2005, these figures had gone up to 71% and 79% respectively.

The share of trained primary school teachers has also fallen in Southern Asia, where it has gone from 78% in 2013 to 72% in 2018.

To teach efficiently, teachers need decent working conditions, like having electricity or sanitation facilities in schools. However, in Sub-Saharan Africa, only 34% of primary schools had access to electricity and 44% had access to basic drinking water in 2018-17. To make matters worse, 1 in 4 primary school did not have single-sex basic sanitation facilities in low-income countries.

To the issue of training and working condition plaguing the profession is the additional fact that the teaching profession also suffers from a poor image and status. Compared to jobs requiring similar qualifications, teaching often offers lower salaries for the responsibility and the amount of work required.

This leads to teachers leaving the profession in high numbers without enough new recruits to replace them, especially young new teachers.


Missing: young teachers

The future of society depends on the future of education. We need young teachers willing to take on the challenges of tomorrow.

Indeed, attracting young candidates to the teaching profession is a major challenge worldwide, and this is not just a supply issue. The hardships and obstacles affecting the profession disproportionately affect young teachers.

In their latest Education at a Glance report, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that young teachers, defined as under 30 years old, make up a small proportion of the teaching population in their member states. Indeed, teachers under 30 account for 13% in primary education, 11% in lower secondary and 8% in upper secondary on average across OECD countries in 2017.

Keeping young teachers in the profession is also a critical concern. Student teachers often indicate the experience of facing their first classroom as the most daunting part of their job. This leads to high attrition rates in this age group. Solid teacher education and induction practices, as well as peer mentoring have been highlighted as models that could offer young teacher the support they need in their first years in the profession.


A problem without solutions?

The main concerns around the attractiveness of the teaching profession could be addressed in teacher policies developed as presented in our Teacher Policy Development Guide.

Indeed, in the guide are listed nine dimensions that we believe essential to address the current issues facing the profession. Among these dimensions, we list training and education, working conditions and remuneration as mandatory component of any policy pertaining to teachers.

It is our belief that tackling the problem of attracting and retaining young people in the teaching profession will require sound and holistic teacher policies developed with the input of a broad range of stakeholders, including young people themselves.


Held annually on 5 October, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions.

Authored by Inès da Silva, Communications Officer, International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030


Twitter-posterAccording to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, 258 million children and youth are not in school. More worrisome is that over 600 million children and adolescents who are enrolled in school are not learning the basics. In both cases, children are being denied their right to a quality education.

To remedy this learning crisis, the world needs new teachers - about 69 million more if we are to meet our commitments before 2030.

This is why the chosen theme for World Teachers’ Day 2019 is “Young teachers: the future of the profession”. Beyond being a celebration of those who have dedicated their lives to transmitting knowledge and shaping minds, World Teachers’ Day is also the occasion to shine a light on important issues that are affecting the profession and keep teachers at the forefront of the global education agenda.


 Wanted: young teachers

The number of trained teachers has decreased since 2013. Using national definitions, the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report estimated that only 85% of teachers were trained in 2017. This represents a 1.5 percentage point decrease.

The OECD’s 2019 Education at a Glance report gives us a snapshot of the situation. Young teachers, defined as those under 30 years old, make up only 25% of the teaching workforce across all levels of education in OECD surveyed countries.

In France, the proportion of young teachers from primary to upper secondary was 11% in 2017. In the Republic of Korea, they represented 14% of the teaching workforce. Chile is one of the countries with the highest average of young teachers with them representing 21% of the workforce.

It gets even bleaker when we look at it by levels of education. In 2017, there were only 13% of teachers aged 30 and under in primary education and only 11% in lower secondary education. This proportion gets even lower in upper secondary education with 8% of teachers in that age group.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the percentage of newly recruited teachers is still low in most countries, especially for primary education, according to the latest available data. In Benin, the percentage of teachers who were newly recruited was 12% at primary level. Out of those newly recruited teachers, only half were trained according to nationally defined standards.

In South Africa the percentage of newly recruited teachers at primary level was 8%, and 91% of them were trained according to national standards.  In Cote d’Ivoire, the percentage of newly recruited teachers for primary education was 13% and 99% of them were trained according to national standards.

More alarming is the low ratio of teacher training graduates to teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Kenya, that ratio was 4.0, in Senegal it was 3.7, while in Tanzania it was 12.2.

What we can deduct from these numbers is that worldwide, young people are not joining the profession at high enough rates.

Capture-EI Figure 13

Attractiveness of the Teaching Profession to Young People   Figure 1 Source: EI, The Global Status of Teachers and the Teaching Profession, 2018 p.27


Why so unattractive?

Teachers were once highly respected professionals that often served as inspirational role models for young people. Take Miss Honey, Mathilda’s teacher from Roald Dahl’s eponym book, or John Keating, the fictitious English teacher from Dead Poet Society, or even Professor Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series. All these teachers have inspired respect, gratitude and even love to hordes of readers and viewers.

However, it is much different for teachers these days. Teaching is more often than not described as a hard, thankless profession, exercised in difficult working conditions. It is no longer viewed as a profession of choice. In Tanzania, for instance, the teaching profession is no longer perceived by young people as being a respectful profession but as the last recourse for those who did not perform well in national exams.

In their updated The Future of the Teaching Profession report, Education International highlights the fact that early career teachers sometimes find their initial encounters with a class a daunting experience.

They even list concerns that worried student teachers the most:

  • Discipline and classroom management,
  • Personal and institutional adjustments,
  • Teaching methods and strategies, and
  • Working with special needs students.

A survey conducted in the United Kingdom by the National Union of Teachers in 2017, found that half of the respondent teachers aged under 35 expected to leave the profession within the next five years because of the demanding workload.

So why would a young person decide on pursuing this career when they have so many other choices today?     


What can we do?

A first easy step to improving the attractiveness of the teaching profession would be through the development and implementation of holistic national teacher policies. 

The Teacher Task Force, in its Teacher Policy Development Guide, recommends that properly mapped out career paths, good working conditions and appropriate rewards and remuneration need to be considered as measures to motivate and retain teachers in the profession and included in all teacher policies. The United Kingdom is already looking at elevating young teachers’ starting salary as a mean to increase recruitment rates.

Benin has also just launched a 9-month long deployment contract for young teacher trainees, which features a fixed salary and housing allowance directly wired to their bank account as well as health care.

It has also been acknowledged by research that lessening the workload of young teachers can help them cope with the demands of the profession. In Kazakhstan, new teachers work four hours a week less than experienced teachers do. 

As young teachers often cite unpreparedness when arriving in front of a class, we recommend that, beyond initial teacher education, teacher policies include a provision for an induction period, providing young teachers with in-school support in the form of mentors and peer networks.

According to the TALIS 2018 Results, 77% of school leaders who responded to the survey agreed that mentoring is of high importance when it comes to supporting young teachers. In Singapore, more than 50% of novice teachers have an assigned mentor.

So on World Teachers’ Day 2019, we would like to remind the international community that if we do not find solutions to attract young bright minds into the profession, we will fail to bridge the “teacher gap” and fall short of achieving the commitment to quality education set out in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Join our panel discussion

Held annually on October 5 since 1994, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions.

This year, UNESCO is holding panel discussions on Monday, October 7 at its headquarters in Paris, France. The debates will convene student teachers, young teachers, teacher trainers, academics and youth representatives to try and identify solutions to attract and retain young people in the teaching profession.


This blog was orignially published on the Global Partnership for Education's Education for All blog on the occasion of World Teachers' Day 2019. The Global Partnership for Education is a member of the Teacher Task Force and sits on its Steering Committee.

TTF article-WTD18“The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher”. This can seem like a simple enough statement, until one looks closely at what being a “qualified teacher” means.
One of the ways to define a qualified teacher is as a teacher “who has at least the minimum academic qualifications required for teaching their subjects at the relevant level in a given country.”


The above definition is about the type of qualification required for someone to become a teacher. In some countries, the minimum requirement is a Master’s Degree; in other countries, a high school diploma is sufficient. This is one of the indicators behind SDG 4.c.
However, whether a teacher has a high school diploma or a Master’s Degree, neither is sufficient for ensuring good teaching. This is because the most important training for becoming a teacher is pedagogical training.


Another indicator for measuring progress on SDG 4.c calls for trained teachers. A trained teacher is one who “has completed the minimum organized teacher training requirements (whether during pre-service training or in-service).” Most teacher training programmes encompass some form of study in educational theory, teaching methods, child development, assessment, in addition to focused study in languages, maths, sciences, and so on.
But there is a lot of variability in how countries organize pedagogical training. Teacher training programmes can range from 12 months to 4 years. They can include a practical component (e.g., field experience) either concurrently during course work or after all course work is completed. Practical experiences can range from a few weeks to several months. Some student teachers may benefit from supervised practice during their field experiences, while others are only allowed to observe a classroom teacher. Often, these variations exist within the same country.

These variations in how teachers are trained greatly affect teacher quality in the classroom. To support countries to enhance the provision of teacher education, UNESCO and the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 are collaborating with Education International and the ILO to develop an international guiding framework for professional teaching standards.

A common framework will support the key education stakeholders to assure the quality of teacher education through standards of practice that describe the required competencies, knowledge, and skills at different stages of a teacher’s career. A framework of teaching standards can help to safeguard joint regulation of the profession by spelling out the governance and accountability mechanisms for assuring the provision of quality teacher education and quality teaching. The framework is intended to be aspirational in nature. Its purpose is to support teachers, teacher educators, teachers’ organizations and governments to agree on and implement a common understanding of teaching and teacher quality.


So what does it really mean to be a qualified teacher? It means having both an academic qualification and the proper training in pedagogy. It means recognizing teaching as a full profession that requires specialized training. It means having sufficient opportunities to practice teaching under the supervision of a qualified mentor during pre-service training and having access to professional development opportunities that target specific skill needs during in-service employment.

It means urging governments to take teacher education seriously so that it is fully financed for the benefit of students’ learning outcomes.

TTF article-WTD18With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 4 on quality and inclusive education, and the dedicated target (SDG 4.c) on teachers, the education community recognized teachers as key to the achievement of the Education 2030 agenda.
As we celebrate World Teachers’ Day this year, we take this occasion to remind the global community that “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher.” This theme was chosen to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which recognized education as a key fundamental right. A right that cannot be fulfilled without qualified teachers.


The right to a qualified teacher
A qualified teacher is commonly defined as a teacher “who has at least the minimum academic qualifications required for teaching their subjects at the relevant level in a given country.” Qualified teachers are fundamental to the right to education. However, this definition does not include the notion of trained teachers, defined as “teachers who have received at least the minimum organized pedagogical teacher training pre-service and in-service required for teaching at the relevant level in a given country”. This results in teachers sometimes having the academic qualification required to teach, but not the pedagogical training, or vice versa. Some teachers even lack both academic qualifications and pedagogical training. In many low-income countries, there is a shortage of both trained and qualified teachers.

There is also a lack of data regarding the minimum requirements for pedagogical training among countries, and the existing differences are not well documented. Countries differ in regards to programme duration and curriculum content, extent of and quality of field experience (i.e., practice teaching), and availability and duration of induction and mentoring. For example, teacher education programmes can last from one to four years, may or may not include a period of supervised teaching practice, and may or may not require an academic qualification. Such qualitative differences in the training and qualifications of teachers affect instructional quality in the classroom and ultimately students’ learning achievement.


The impact of teacher shortage
One of the main challenges to this right worldwide is the continued shortage of teachers. There are an estimated 263 million children and youth still out of school globally, and according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the world needs to recruit almost 69 million new teachers to reach the 2030 education goal of universal primary and secondary education. This ‘teacher gap’ is more pronounced among vulnerable populations – girls, children with disabilities, refugee and migrant children, and poor children living in rural or remote areas.

Teacher shortages are hampering efforts in many low-income countries to achieving quality, equitable, and inclusive education. To fill the teacher gap, countries resort to hiring teachers on temporary contracts who do not meet the training and qualifications requirements nor have proper professional status thereby increasing, rather than decreasing, the equity gap.

The equity gap is most pronounced in emergency and conflict-situations, where qualified teachers are in short supply. According to UNICEF, more than one-third of out-of-school children and youth globally live in conflict-affected areas -- 55% of whom are girls. In emergency contexts, providing migrant and refugee children with education is key to helping them cope with the new situation. But often, humanitarian agencies must recruit teachers with no preparation for responding to the complex needs of vulnerable children who have been forced to flee their homes because of armed conflict, violence or natural disaster.


A global event
This year, World Teachers’ Day celebration will spotlight teachers’ experiences in crisis and emergency contexts.

A global event will be taking place at UNESCO’s Headquarter in Paris on 5 October. The morning panel will showcase the policy issues and practical challenges of securing the right to education for children and youth living in difficult contexts. It will feature a presentation by the Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great-Britain and Northern Ireland to UNESCO who will speak about the new DFID education policy that puts a focus on addressing the teacher shortage, especially among vulnerable populations in developing and conflict affected countries. Experts from the Global Education Monitoring Report will present a few teasers from the upcoming Report on migration. Finally, the panel will showcase the work of a French NGO, “Groupement d’Educateurs sans Frontières”, who train retired teachers to work with migrant and refugee children.

In the afternoon, the Director-General’s opening address will be broadcasted live in Geneva to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Joint Committee of Experts on the Applications of the Recommendations concerning the status of teachers (CEART), which will meet in Geneva, Switzerland from 1-5 October. The award Ceremony of the UNESCO-Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers will take place after the formal opening ceremony.

Awarded every two years, the Prize is generously supported by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum through the Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for Distinguished Academic Performance. It amounts to US $300,000, which is equally divided between three winners whose projects aim at improving the performance and effectiveness of teachers in various regions of the world.
This year, the prize will be given to three programmes designed to improve teachers’ training and empower them: The Center for Mathematic Modeling of the University of Chile, the Diklat Berjenjang project (Indonesia) and the Fast-track Transformational Teacher Training Programme (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

The Ceremony will take place in presence of UNESCO’s Director-General, Ms Audrey Azoulay, and His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

Held annually on 5 October since 1994, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions.
World Teachers’ Day is co-convened in partnership with UNICEF, UNDP, the International Labour Organization, and Education International.

World Teachers' Day 2018 webpage

Teacher Task Force

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