Worlds of Education

Education Voices | Unpacking the High-Level Panel Recommendations

published 27 February 2024 updated 27 February 2024
written by:

Manal Hdaife is a school principal and chair of the Education International Arab Countries Cross Regional Structure Committee, deeply committed to advancing the cause of education in Lebanon. With a career dedicated to promoting teachers' rights and enhancing educational standards, Hdaife has emerged as a key advocate for public education within her region. As a member of the High-Level Panel (HLP) on the Teaching Profession, convened by the United Nations, Hdaife has taken her advocacy to the global level, contributing her expertise towards shaping policies aimed at strengthening the teaching profession worldwide. The Panel, tasked with addressing the critical issue of the global teacher shortage, represents a significant step towards enhancing public education globally.

In this interview for Worlds of Education, coinciding with the official launch of the HLP Recommendations on the 26 February in Johannesburg, South Africa, Hdaife discusses the key recommendations from the Panel’s deliberations, underscoring the crucial role of education unions in advocating for their implementation, and their impact on teachers in Lebanon and beyond.

The High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession met over several months in 2023. What were the main issues discussed?

Throughout the HLP meetings last year, we tackled a broad range of critical issues affecting the teaching profession globally. Key topics included, amongst others, the growing teacher shortage, the quality of teacher training, the impact of digital technology on education, and the specific challenges faced by teachers working in crisis-affected contexts and with refugee students. Each discussion aimed at identifying sustainable solutions to elevate the teaching profession and achieve equitable, quality education for all.

How do the recommendations address the pressing issue of teacher shortages across the globe and what actions are suggested for education unions?

The HLP recommendations highlight the necessity of strategic investment in teacher recruitment, professional development, and retention strategies. They urge governments to adopt policies that globally enhance the status and conditions of the teaching profession—which includes raising teacher salaries, improving working conditions, and guaranteeing job security. The recommendations also acknowledge the vital role of social dialogue and collective bargaining in developing sustainable solutions to the teacher shortage. They call for the active involvement of education unions, governments and stakeholders in defining policies that raise the status of teachers, guaranteeing professional autonomy and academic freedom.

Given the Panel's identification of underinvestment in the teaching profession as a root cause of the teacher shortage, how do the recommendations propose to tackle this issue?

The recommendations underscore the critical need for substantial investment in the teaching profession, echoing Education International’s opposition to austerity policies that restrict public funding in education. By recommending policies that increase teacher salaries and enhance job security, the HLP aligns with Education International's call to eliminate constraints on the public sector´s wage bill— often imposed by International Financial Institutions like the International Monetary Fund, which directly exacerbate the teacher shortage.

What role do the recommendations assign to technology in education?

The recommendations recognize the necessity for educators to be involved in policy discussions around the sustainable and equitable use of education technology, ensuring that it supports, rather than supplants the irreplaceable human element of teaching, thereby preserving the essential student-teacher relationship. Additionally, the recommendations push for professional development opportunities that empower teachers to effectively integrate technology into their practice.

How could the recommendations make a difference for teachers in Lebanon, particularly those working in crisis contexts and refugee teachers?

Among the Panel's recommendations, those focusing on supporting teachers in crisis-affected areas and refugee educators particularly resonate with me. For Lebanon, where educators face immense pressures due to ongoing economic challenges and the refugee crisis, these recommendations could be transformative. Implementing targeted support measures, providing professional development opportunities tailored to crisis contexts, and recognising the invaluable role of refugee teachers could significantly enhance the resilience and sustainability of Lebanon's education sector. Additionally, ensuring that teachers continue to receive their salaries in conflict areas, is critical for reinforcing the education system’s overall resilience. Such steps would not only uplift the teaching profession but also ensure that all children, irrespective of their circumstances, have access to education.

Why do the Panel’s recommendations matter for education unions?

The recommendations are pivotal for education unions because they underscore the crucial role they play in advocating for the rights and professional development of teachers. They highlight the need for unions to be at the forefront of pushing for policy changes that align with the recommendations, ensuring that teachers are supported, valued, and equipped to meet the diverse needs of their students. Moreover, the recommendations reinforce the importance of unions in facilitating dialogue between teachers and policymakers, fostering more inclusive and equitable public education systems globally.

What role can educators and their unions play in bringing these recommendations to life?

Education unions are pivotal in ensuring the recommendations are implemented. By continuing and deepening their engagement with campaigns like EI’s Go Public! Fund Education, unions can hold governments accountable, monitor the teacher shortage at the national level, and grow membership to improve the effectiveness of collective bargaining.

The successful implementation of these recommendations can profoundly transform the education landscape. By addressing the root causes of challenges facing the teaching profession, we can create a more supportive environment for teachers, which, in turn, will have a positive impact on student learning. The Panel's vision empowers unions to shape policies and practices that truly reflect the needs and realities of our profession, contributing to achieve a more just, democratic, and sustainable future for all.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official policies or positions of Education International.