Investing in teachers is the first step in attaining global education goals

///Investing in teachers is the first step in attaining global education goals

By Stella Chege, Programme Officer

Everyone has that one teacher from their past who played a pivotal role in their life- either good or bad. Teachers shape our lives in ways that reverberate across the rest of our lives. If you look back to your memories of school, there is always a teacher who stood out either in the way they inspired and built you up, or sadly in the case of many children, who had a negative effect on the child for life.

At no time in history has the role that teachers play become more visible than at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, when schools were closed as the world went into lockdown.  For a couple of months, the world was united in their appreciation of teachers as frazzled parents tried to step in to ensure that children continued with their lessons at home. The world quickly realized that teaching is a specialized skill, and that the role of teachers in children and young people’s lives is significant. However, the sentiments were short-lived: As the pandemic abated and the world reopened, we went back to not appreciating teachers.

World Teachers Day is celebrated every year on October 5th with the aim of appreciating, assessing and improving the status of educators of the world. The day provides an opportunity for stakeholders to consider issues related to teachers and teaching and seek ways to resolve these issues.  The theme for the world teachers’ day 2022 is transformation of education begins with teachers.

Teachers are the engine that drive the education system and possibly the most important yet least appreciated resource in the learning process. As we celebrate World Teachers Day in 2022, we need to reflect on this year’s theme and unpack what it means to safeguard the valuable resource that is teachers and educators.

Addressing the welfare of teachers does not have to be left to chance and the goodwill of governments and other stakeholders: In 1966, ILO/UNESCO[1] developed guidelines on the welfare of teachers which set a foundation on how to engage with teachers. The guidelines were updated in 1997 to include higher education teachers. These guidelines are not legally binding but set out good practice that can be used to guide discussions on teachers’ welfare. They include the issues of teacher training – both pre, in-service and continuous professional education, employment and careers, the rights and responsibilities of teachers, guidelines for effective teaching and learning, teachers’ remuneration, social security and addressing the issue of teacher shortages.

According to UNESCO, by 2030, the world will need an additional 69 million teachers to reach the 2030 education goals[2]. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, teacher shortages were so stark, they were recognized as a major contributor to low attainment in education. Drivers of teacher shortages are twofold. On the one hand, not enough teachers are trained to meet the demand while on the other hand, teachers are constantly leaving the profession to pursue other interests and careers. Teacher unemployment is a paradox because despite the teacher shortages, many teachers remain unemployed as governments are not able to meaningfully employ all the teachers that they require.

The increased demand for teachers is partly to replace teachers who are leaving the service, while a proportion is to meet the growing demand for teachers as the learner population grows.

As we reflect on how to meet the 2030 Sustainable development goal 4 of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, we to invest in teachers as the first step to transforming education and learning for all learners across the world.

  • Improve the quality of teacher training, from adopting minimum standards and qualifications of all teacher training institutions, providing regular in service and continuous teacher education and providing opportunities for career growth.
  • Paying fair wages to all teachers- teacher pay and remuneration varies wildly across different countries. in many counties, the teacher wage bill is less than 2% of their GDP despite the teacher workforce being the single largest category of civil servants. Over-supply of teachers in countries where the government is not able to employ all trained teachers leads to lower wages as supply outstrips demand.
  • Ensure a safe working environment for teachers: overcrowded, under resourced and unsafe learning environments don’t only negatively affect learners. Overcrowding also leads to burnout and overworking of teachers as they struggle to meet the needs of the learners. This contributes to high attrition rates and even greater shortages.
  • Safeguarding the health and wellbeing of teachers including their physical, mental, emotional and psychological wellbeing of teachers. Teachers who’s wellbeing is not safeguarded may end up hurting the children who are placed in their care. It is therefore important to consider teachers wellbeing as a priority in ensuring the safety of children.

As we celebrate world teachers day this year, 56 years after the development of the ILO/UNESCO guidelines, we need to ask this question: Is it time for the ILO/UNESCO guidelines to be enshrined in law to ensure all governments adopt minimum standards and safeguard the welfare of all teachers and educators across the world?

Caption: A teacher conducts a student choir at FAWE Kajiado AIC School. 

[1] Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, 5 October 1966 (


By |2022-10-05T11:29:58+03:00October 5th, 2022|Categories: FAWE News, Featured|

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