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World Teachers’ Day: young teachers and the future of education in the spotlight

With the world in dire need of new teachers, valuing and improving the status of the profession to make it more attractive to young people is key to ensuring equitable and inclusive quality education for all.

Taking place on the 5th of October, this year’s World Teachers’ Day focuses on “Young Teachers: The Future of the Profession.” In a joint statement marking the occasion, Education International (EI), UNESCO, the ILO and other partners voice their concern over the status of the teaching profession and its impact on the recruitment and retention of qualified young teachers. The signatories note that the theme is a call to governments “to make teaching a profession of first choice for young people.”

25 years of celebrating teachers

World Teachers’ Day was established in 1994 to celebrate the work of dedicated teachers around the world. It marks the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers – an instrument that 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.

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education, and the dedicated target (SDG 4.c) recognising teachers as key to the achievement of the Education 2030 agenda, World Teachers’ Day has become the occasion to evaluate progress and reflect on ways to counter the remaining challenges to the promotion of the teaching profession.

 

Increasing teacher shortages

Young teachers are leaving the profession by the thousands worldwide. Statistics show that urgent action is needed in order to curb a looming teacher shortage. The world needs 69 million new teachers to meet the Education 2030 Agenda. Global inequalities may increase, as 70% of sub-Saharan countries face acute shortages of teachers, rising to 90% at secondary level.

Teacher attrition rates are rising rapidly worldwide, due in part to precarious employment and scarce opportunities for continuous professional development. Furthermore, there is a lack of resources for children with special education needs, those with disabilities, refugees and other marginalised groups.

 

Call for urgent action

On the occasion of this year’s World Teachers’ Day, EI General Secretary, David Edwards, is calling on governments everywhere to take immediate measures to safeguard and promote the status of teachers and education support personnel at all levels of education.

“Ensuring decent salaries and working conditions for all educators, providing induction and mentoring programmes so that young teachers are well-grounded into the profession, giving them the academic freedom and professional autonomy they need to exercise leadership and act as agents of change are all necessary steps that must be taken if education is to help the world meet the challenges of the future”, said Edwards. Edwards stressed that attracting and retaining new teachers should be at the top of policy agendas everywhere if we are to ensure education quality, equity and inclusion.

World Teachers’ Day is co-convened by Education International in partnership with UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, and the International Labour Organisation.