Teachers around the world deserve more than thanks, governments must listen

An open letter from the profession on World Teachers’ Day

published 3 October 2022 updated 4 November 2022

As teachers we believe that, despite the global crises facing the world, the power and optimism inherent in education will always provide hope for our future. We also know that to move forward from this pandemic, and the deepening inequities it exposed, we need to fully fund public education systems and invest in, support, and involve teachers.

To truly celebrate World Teachers’ Day, governments around the world must commit to increase investment in quality public education systems, guarantee labor rights and good working conditions for teachers and education support personnel, and to respect teachers and their pedagogical expertise.

COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the education sector. At the height of the pandemic, 1.6 billion students were out of school. Millions are still not in the classroom, while others are struggling with trauma and loss. As the economic crisis, the climate emergency, and wars intensify, educators have become the lifeline of nearly every school system in the world, the critical link for tens of millions of students. However, this critical lifeline is at risk.

While there is an increased public appreciation for the work teachers do, most governments have failed to make the necessary investments or provide the support teachers and education personnel desperately need. In too many places, the applause and thank yous have been replaced by devastating education budget cuts and impossible demands that leave teachers exhausted and burned-out.

Research by Education International points to an overworked, underpaid, and undervalued teaching profession. Experienced educators are leaving en masse the profession they love, fewer candidates aspire to replace them, and the global teacher shortage is reaching epic proportions.

It is clear that the dedication of teachers cannot make up for financially starved education institutions, top-down policies, or systems that fail to trust and respect the people dedicated to students.

As the global voice of the teaching profession, with 383 members representing 32 million teachers worldwide, Education International is calling on governments to invest more in public education, a crucial public service and key to pandemic recovery, and support teachers, the single most important factor in achieving quality education. A more just, inclusive, democratic, and sustainable future is impossible without a clear and meaningful commitment to education.

It is time to commit to the transformative power of public education for each and every student, in nations large and small. We call on the world's governments to fulfil their obligation to free quality public education. The world’s teachers, students, and learning communities are ready to build a better future. We are the beating heart of education.

About Education International

Education International (EI) is the Global Union Federation that brings together organisations of teachers and other education employees from across the world. Through 383 member organisations, EI represents more than 32 million teachers and education support personnel in 178 countries and territories.