Educator well-being in focus: International report reveals alarming challenges

published 10 October 2023 updated 21 March 2024

A milestone report launched on World Mental Health Day, offers a comprehensive look at the health and well-being of education personnel worldwide.

The 2023 International Barometer on Education Staff (I-BEST) draws from the experience of over 26,000 teachers, school principals and education support personnel across 11 territories: Argentina, French-speaking Belgium, Cameroun, Canada, France, Japan, Morocco, Spain, Switzerland (Cantons of Vaud and Geneva), United Kingdom and Quebec.

The I-BEST is a collaborative effort, brought to life by key organizations, including the Education and Solidarity Network, Education International, and the UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education, all committed to elevating the well-being and status of education personnel worldwide. The second edition of I-BEST underscores the challenges education personnel face, from feeling undervalued to being overwhelmed, and underlines the urgent need to tackle these issues to ensure future of the teaching profession and thus guarantee the quality of education.

The survey delved into various aspects of education staff’s professional lives, including their satisfaction with working conditions, the physical environment of schools, decision-making autonomy, and experiences with workplace recognition and support. The survey also examined their physical and mental health, as well as the impact of digital tools.

David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International, stressed the urgency of the situation: “The environment and working conditions of teachers have a direct impact on the quality of education. When educators face overwhelming workloads, lack of recognition, experience psychological distress, and are not consulted about the tools they use, this impacts their ability to teach effectively and motivation to remain in the profession. Addressing these challenges is essential for the well-being of education personnel, and pivotal for ensuring quality education for all.”

Key takeaways

Some of the main takeaways from the I-Best 2023 survey include:

  • Despite a diversity of realities and contexts worldwide, there is a concerning trend of education professionals feeling undervalued. This sentiment is exacerbated by an overwhelming workload, challenging work environments, a lack of recognition and limited career advancement opportunities.
  • The report also found an alarming rise in the incidence of workplace violence, indicating a pressing need to establish supportive and respectful environments for education personnel worldwide.
  • The poor state of psychological health is evident in many countries, as well as insufficient support systems, including occupational medicine, for education personnel across the globe. This highlights a critical need for a more uniform and comprehensive approach to addressing the health and well-being of education personnel.

Despite these challenges, the majority of educators would choose their profession again, a true testament to the dedication, commitment, and passion of teachers to the profession they love and that the world needs.

A Renewed Call to Action

Reflecting on these findings, Edwards emphasized the need for decisive political action: “There's an urgent need to design and implement policies focused on improving the health and well-being of our educators. Alongside our main partners, like the Education and Solidarity Network, the UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education and others, we urge political actors in education, both national and global, to respect, value, and trust the pedagogical expertise of teachers and education personnel and to take action to address these critical issues.”

You can download the 2023 International Barometer on Education Staff (I-BEST) and related materials here.