BRUSSELS — Governments around the world must improve salaries and working conditions in education if they are to avert a predicted shortage of 18 million teachers and achieve the Millennium Development Goal of Education for All by 2015.
That is one of the key messages of a major report released by Education International to mark World Teachers’ Day.
As the global union federation representing 29 million educators in more than 160 countries, EI is well placed to report on education issues worldwide. EI’s latest report evaluates implementation of two ILO/UNESCO documents: the 1966 Recommendations concerning the Status of Teachers and the 1997 Recommendation on Higher Education Personnel.
"Forty years after the international community unanimously adopted these fine principles, most countries are still far from implementing them," said EI President Thulas Nxesi.
He said governments must invest in significant improvements to teachers’ living and working conditions and reverse the deterioration in their earning power, which has fallen behind most other professions.
"With the vast majority of the world’s teachers living in poverty, it is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain teachers," Nxesi said. "Problems like violence in schools must also be addressed make our profession more attractive to bright young graduates."
The report urges governments to recognise teachers as partners in policy-making, involve them in governance of educational institutions, and protect their academic freedom. It also expresses grave concern about the growing trend to privatization.
"Education is a public good, not a commodity to be bought and sold for profit,” Nxesi said. “Governments have a responsibility to ensure that education is accessible to all, not just the elite few."
The report also notes that the HIV/AIDS crisis has drastic implications for education, but EI and member unions are conducting a major campaign to combat the pandemic.
"Remarkable progress has been achieved in public education over the past four decades, but the gap between the ideals enshrined in the ILO/UNESCO Recommendations and the reality in schools is still large," Nxesi said. "Teachers are eager to work together with governments and civil society groups to realize the dream of quality education for every child."
The full report is available here.