Education International
Education International

World Teachers’ Day 2008: Teachers matter!

published 3 October 2008 updated 3 October 2008

Governments the world over must address the dramatic shortage of qualified teachers if they are to meet the social and economic challenges of the knowledge society, according to Education International, the global union federation representing 30 million teachers around the world.

In advance of World Teachers’ Day, EI is appealing to the international community to heed the warnings and take urgent action. UNESCO calculates that 18 million additional teachers are needed worldwide if the goal of universal primary education is to be achieved by 2015. Many more teachers will be required to meet the needs for secondary, higher, technical and vocational education.

“The fundamental right to education was enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60 years ago. Sadly it is still denied to millions of children and adults around the world,” noted Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary of EI. “As teacher trade unionists, we are committed to doing our utmost to help achieve quality, free Education For All but the shortage of trained teachers is one of the biggest obstacles.”

The success of Education For All (EFA) campaigns to date has meant that millions more children are in school now than in 2000. Unfortunately, many governments have resorted to engaging untrained teachers to save money and fill classrooms. To help bridge the gap between the supply of qualified teachers and the demand for quality education, EI and Oxfam Netherlands have launched a pilot project for teacher education. Studies are currently underway in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Peru, and Uganda as the first phase of the project.

“Clearly teacher trade unions have a key role to play,” said van Leeuwen. “But governments must commit to providing living wages and decent working conditions, including adequate learning resources and reasonable class sizes, in order to recruit and retain the brightest young people into this vitally important profession.”

These will be among the key issues tackled during a round table to be held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 3 October, starting at 9:30. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, will open the event, which will feature addresses by teachers from all regions of the world. Education International Vice-President Patrick Gonthier will also be among the participants.

For the full text of the joint statement on World Teachers’ Day from Education International, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, and the International Labour Organisation, please go to: www.unesco.org/education

On World Teachers’ Day, do you want to say “Thank you” to a teacher who made a difference in your life? Electronic greeting cards are available on: www.5oct.org

For more information, please contact Nancy Knickerbocker, EI senior coordinator for communications, on: + 32 2 224 0681 or editor@ei-ie.org