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The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has released statistics showing that nearly 69 million new teachers will be necessary to provide quality universal primary and secondary education by 2030, as called for in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNESCO released the information on World Teachers' Day 2016, which focused on the theme, ‘Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status' to highlight the importance of teaching as a profession for global development, and to urge action to address the global shortage of teachers.

world_teacherday5 October 2016: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has released statistics showing that nearly 69 million new teachers will be necessary to provide quality universal primary and secondary education by 2030, as called for in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNESCO released the information on World Teachers’ Day 2016, which focused on the theme, ‘Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status’ to highlight the importance of teaching as a profession for global development, and to urge action to address the global shortage of teachers.

SDG 4 aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Target 4.c aims to, by 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teaching training in developing countries, especially in the least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS).

According to UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (UIS), more than 70% of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the largest teacher gap in the world, face acute shortages of primary school teachers, and 90% of countries have serious shortages in secondary education. UIS estimates sub-Saharan Africa will need approximately 17 million primary and secondary teachers by 2030. Southern Asia, which has the second-largest gap, will need 15 million teachers by 2020, 11 million in secondary schools. Southern Asia’s secondary level pupil-teacher ratio is estimated at 29:1, compared with a global average of 18:1, even though only 65% of youth are enrolled. The UIS data also highlights challenges related to conflicts in Syria and Iraq, which have destroyed education systems.

“Entire education systems are gearing up for the big push to achieve SDG 4 by 2030,” UIS Director Silvia Montoya said, cautioning that “education systems are only as good as their teachers.” Montoya stressed that “global progress will depend” on the presence of a teacher, the existence of a classroom, and a manageable class size “instead 60, 70 or even more pupils.” She also called for additional training, resources and support for teachers.

In a joint message for the Day, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark, and Education International General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen called for: supporting national efforts to strengthen teaching and education institutions and improve education opportunities for all children; ensuring that teachers’ pay and conditions “reflect a commitment to delivering high quality education.” They also stressed that quality education is the strongest foundation for “lasting peace and sustainable development.”

World Teachers’ Day events at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France commemorated the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, and included a panel discussion, a poster exhibition and an awards ceremony.

In August, the UN Secretariat circulated the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Kishore Singh, highlighting the increasing acceptance of the “right to learning,” which elaborates on the idea of lifelong learning and the right to education and training (A/71/358 ). Singh emphasizes the importance given to lifelong learning in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and draws attention to some examples of financing, public incentives and national legal frameworks, such as paid leave of one-year given to teachers in Fiji to upgrade their qualifications, a 2014 law on vocational training, employment and social democracy in France, and the SkillsFuture credit scheme in Singapore, which can be used for a wide range of courses. The report calls on governments to adopt the necessary policies and strategies for lifelong learning, and on the corporate sector, employers and social partners to work with public authorities in designing the relevant programmes. [UN Press Release] [UNESCO Press Release] [Teacher Statistics] [Joint Message] [World Teachers’ Day Events] [Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education] ​

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