5th October 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the World Teacher’s Day. This day was formally established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1994. This year the theme for the World Teacher’s Day is ‘Invest in the future, invest in teachers’.
An education system is only as good as its teachers. Teachers are essential to universal and quality education for all: they are central to shaping the minds and attitudes of the coming generations to deal with new global challenges and opportunities. Innovative, inclusive and results-focused teaching is crucial for 2015 and beyond if we are to provide the best possible opportunities for millions of children, youth and adults worldwide.
As we move closer to the “Education for All” deadline in 2015, it is important to acknowledge the invaluable service that is provided by teachers across the world. The 11th Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report 2013/4 released towards the beginning of the year pointed to the fact that globally, an additional 1.6 and 3.3 million teachers would be required by 2015 and 2030 respectively to achieve the goal of universal primary education. The shortage continues at the lower secondary level with 3.5 million teachers to fill in the gaps as per the latest UNESCO Institute of Statistics. As the data clearly points out, hiring new teachers and filling up existing vacancies arising from attrition is a top priority for countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. But this is only a part of the problem. Countries and policy-makers need to address the issues of quality training for teachers, better teaching conditions, and better salaries along with other facilities for teachers. As the Global March policy paper on ‘Out-of-School Children and Child Labour ’states, countries also need to recruit more female teachers in order to tackle the problem of low enrolment and retention of girls in school. However, more importantly it is essential to restore pride in the profession of teaching and give it the status and respect that it truly deserves. Thus, it is only by investing time and resources in these teachers that we can truly insure the future of millions of children including the 58 million who are still out of school.
Emphasizing on the role of teachers in augmenting the human capital, Haldis Holst, Deputy General Secretary of Education International, one of the core constituents of the Global March said “Teachers are the most important educational resource and a critical determinant of quality. Quality education for all is the foundation for sustainable economic prosperity and a just and equitable society. Quality education helps every person to achieve his or her full potential. Teachers must be treated as respected professionals. Teaching must provide an attractive career choice, and must remain sufficiently attractive, in terms of training and continuous professional development, salaries and conditions of employment, to recruit and retain the best teachers. Teaching and learning must occur in supportive, inclusive, safe and secure conditions, with the appropriate facilities to encourage student-centered learning. This is particularly important for children who have been released from child labour or who are at risk of dropping out. A quality environment also engages parents, students, teachers, school authorities and support staff in a community working together to achieve the goal of providing quality education for all children.”
Asserting on the role of teachers in creating the quest for egalitarianism and underpinning the responsibilities of the society towards teachers, Chairperson of the Global March, Kailash Satyarthi said “The society that fails its teachers is bound to fail its present and future. There is no easy alternative to inculcate the values and virtues of humanity and nature than the teachers. On the other hand, the teachers must pledge and work to ensure that no child is left behind, however arduous be the conditions to reach out to them.
On this day, Global March would like to acknowledge the contribution of teachers around the world. Education is the only answer to a host of problems plaguing the world including poverty and child labour. It urges its partners to come forward and work towards giving the teaching profession its rightful place in the social sphere.