Quality teachers most important factor in children’s learning

KATHMANMDU: Quality teachers are increasingly recognised as the most important factor in children’s learning.

A joint message from the Heads of UNESCO, ILO, UNICEF, UNDP and Education International on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day which falls every year on October 5 said that especially in poor communities and countries affected by conflict, quality teaching can literally change a child’s life by helping children overcome enormous challenges and preparing them for better lives and brighter futures.

The slogan for World Teachers’ Day 2015 is ‘Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies’.

The statement said that too many teachers around the world are undervalued and disempowered.

“There is a mounting shortage of quality teachers, unequal distribution of trained teachers, and inadequate or non-existent national standards for the teaching profession. These are all key contributing factors to wide equity gaps in access and learning,” the statement said.

It said that the poorest regions and schools and the earliest grades – those most in need – are often the most affected and this a deeply troubling gap, as study after study shows that reaching children in the earliest years is critical for their development.

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics estimates that to achieve universal primary education by 2020, countries will need to recruit a total of 10.9 million primary teachers.

“This is a global education crisis in the making – unless we act,” reads the statement adding, “Recognising the looming crisis at the 2015 World Education Forum, held in Incheon, South Korea, leaders committed to “ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.”

The 2015 Oslo “Education for Development”, Summit in Norway, further highlighted the imperative of addressing the shortage of qualified teachers and investing in teacher education.

Now, by committing to the Education 2030 agenda, UN Member States agreed to substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

“To meet the new education goal and all its targets by 2030, we must intensify efforts to provide sufficiently qualified, well deployed, motivated and supported teachers to every school, every community, and every child across the globe,”

it said.

It added that quality education should be prioritised everywhere for development. It further suggested that governments should redouble efforts to engage in dialogue with teachers and their organisations and devise concrete policy measures and strategies to provide appropriate incentives, including competitive remuneration and clear career paths to teach in schools located in challenging environments and retain them in the profession.

The statement also said teachers should be empowered through the provision of decent working conditions, well-resourced, safe and healthy working environments, trust, professional autonomy and academic freedom.

The ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers (1966), the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel (1997) and the ILO Policy Guidelines on the Promotion of Decent Work for Early Childhood Education Personnel (2014) are essential international standards and benchmarks for the teaching profession.