World Teachers Day: UNESCO, others call for global transformation of teaching

By Busayo Onijala

 UNESCO, UNICEF, ILO and Education International say countries should ensure that teaching is transformed into a more attractive and valorised profession where teachers are valued, trusted, and adequately supported.

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO, Gilbert F. Houngbo, Director-General, International Labour Organisation, Catherine Russell, Executive Director, UNICEF, David Edwards, General Secretary, Education International said this on Thursday in a joint message on the 2023 World Teachers’ Day celebration.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that World Teachers’ Day is marked  on Oct. 5 annually to celebrate teachers around the world and reflect on the support they need.

For 2023, the day has the theme, “The teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage.”

The organisations noted that to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, particularly equitable and quality education, relevant and innovative pedagogies for the transformation of society were needed.

According to them, teachers are one of the pillars on which this transformation depends.

They said research had repeatedly found that teachers were the single most important school-level variable for improving student outcomes.

“Halfway to the SDGs, 44 million teachers still need to be recruited globally to meet universal primary and secondary education needs by 2030, with 15 million of those required in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Rural, marginalised and forcibly displaced communities often face the most chronic shortages of qualified teachers.

“The fundamental cause of this global shortage is the diminishing attractiveness of the teaching profession, which undermines the recruitment of new teachers and produces high levels of attrition amongst those in service,” the organisations said in a message.

They said due to poor working conditions, teaching was often viewed negatively as a ‘profession of last resort,’ and teachers were not given the recognition and status they deserved.

“Teachers can typically expect to be paid less than if they entered other professions requiring similar levels of qualification, whilst also finding themselves increasingly overburdened by additional responsibilities and administrative tasks,” said the statement.

According to the organisations, teachers are lifelong learners, catalysts for change, creators and facilitators of knowledge, and mentors who engage students and support them in understanding the complex challenges and realities of the world.

“Today, on World Teachers’ Day, we celebrate teachers’ critical role and the great importance of reversing the global teacher shortage.

“Bold actions must be taken, if we are to reverse the current decline and successfully increase teacher numbers,” the statement noted. (NAN)