Teachers are key to quality education and successful 2030 Education Agenda

published 4 April 2016 updated 6 April 2016

The Teacher Target in the Sustainable Development Goals and Education 2030 must be implemented. This was one key finding from the 8th Policy Dialogue Forum - International Task Force on Teachers held in Mexico from 14-17 March.

Education is the most powerful instrument to address inequalities and these inequalities represent a major challenge to society and education systems, Juan Díaz de la Torre, of the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación(SNTE) and member of the Education International (EI) Executive Board, told the Forum.


Warning against the privatisation trends affecting education, he also insisted on the participation of teachers’ unions in defining and implementing education standards and policies, with “their views reflected in the legal framework”. De la Torre also called for respect for teachers’ human and trade union rights.

Teachers’ deprofessionalisation, salaries, and work conditions are crucial issues to be urgently tackled, and teachers need to be valued, he emphasised. He also called for the use of research to support education policies. In Mexico, he said, the SNTE created a national institute in which 400,000 teachers participate and which focuses on research and teacher networks.

The SNTE leader went on to explained that over 10 per cent of the Mexican population is indigenous, and his union works to help teachers in indigenous communities.

He ended his speech by highlighting that “teacher unions and associations are key to a solution, not a problem”, and “education is everyone’s business!”

Investment needed

Teopista Birungi Mayanja, member of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (Education Commission) and former member of the EI Executive Board, also addressed the Forum. She said the Commission is a “major, independent, global initiative engaging world leaders, policy makers, educators, researchers and all to develop a renewed and compelling investment case and financing pathway/plans for achieving equal educational opportunity for children and young people”.

The post-2015 development agenda provides an opportunity to make a renewed investment case and agenda for action for education, the commissioner underlined. Without urgent action, the prospects for more than 124 million children and youth still out of schools and more than 250 million children not learning the necessary skills are severely diminished, she said.

Deficits highlighted

Birungi Mayanja deplored that:

·         The education allocation in government budgets has been declining in a number of countries despite growing needs

·         International aid to education has declined by nearly 10 per cent while the number of out-of-school children has increased

·         A financing gap for basic education of upwards of $27 billion by 2020 is projected without a plan to bridge it

·         The financing of education is inefficiently allocated across and within countries, with aid for education inconsistent within regions

·         Half of the out-of-school children live in conflict settings and emergencies

·         Education receives less than two per cent of humanitarian financing


The Commission’s Report is to be presented to the Co-Conveners and the UN Secretary-General at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016, she said. The report and recommendations will be communicated to heads of State/Governments, ministers, business leaders, and potential investors throughout the world in a systematic outreach strategy upon the its launch.

The Commission’s research aims to synthesise the lessons learned around the creation of an effective and supported teaching force; strengthen professional teaching standards, professionalism and mutual accountability by supporting evidence-based teacher policies; develop school and education systems leaders; and investigate how technology can enhance the role of the teachers.

Teaching and learning

On teaching and learning, EI’s Senior Coordinator, Dennis Sinyolo, told attendees that the Education 2030 Framework for Action’s vision is to transform lives through education. He outlined the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Quality Education Goal (SDG4), as well as strategies for the implementation of education and teacher targets.

“We need to increase investment in education and teachers, and to raise the bar!” he said. This can be done by strengthening professional teaching standards, teacher professionalism and mutual accountability. It can also be achieved by promoting teacher professionalism through professional codes of ethics and mutual accountability through peer-to-peer evaluation. Support and collaboration among teachers is more effective than external supervision and inspections, he said.

Global guidelines

He said that EI is developing global guidelines on professional teaching standards and setting up a professional global network for teacher empowerment. Also, through the Quality Educators for All programme, EI and Oxfam Novib support the professional development of teachers in Mali, Uganda, Niger, and Bangladesh.

In terms of indicators for the development goals and targets, he insisted that education unions and teachers must be involved in the development and implementation of global, regional, and national SDGs and teacher indicators. Indicators should be both quantitative and qualitative, Sinyolo said.

Conflict and crisis

EI also co-organised a Pre-Forum thematic session on teacher management in conflict and crisis contexts, along with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Save the Children.

Participants at this session agreed that the SDG4 commits to ensuring safe, quality education for children in crisis and conflict. Only by addressing the needs of teachers in these crisis and emergency situations are the needs of the most vulnerable children also addressed, they noted. They condemned the fact that 36 per cent or 21 million out-of-school children live in conflict and crisis-affected parts of the world.

Teacher recruitment, retention, and attrition is a major challenge. In addition, the teacher brain-drain can have a devastating effect on quality for the most vulnerable children, they said, while acknowledging that teacher safety must not be ignored and that crisis-affected contexts require the best teacher professional development.

The Mexico Forum’s declaration: Teachers for Education 2030 is available here