This is a crucial moment. COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on education. At the height of the pandemic, 1.6 billion students were out of school. Millions are still not in their classrooms, others are struggling with trauma and loss. As the economic crisis, the climate emergency, and wars intensify the effects of the pandemic, educators have become the lifeline of every school system in the world. This critical lifeline is now at risk.
Despite the public appreciation for teachers, most governments have failed to make the necessary investments in education systems or provide the support teachers desperately need. In too many places, the applause and thank yous have been replaced by devastating budget cuts and impossible demands that leave teachers exhausted and burned-out.
Teachers have been overworked, underpaid, and undervalued for years. Experienced educators are leaving the profession they love. Fewer candidates aspire to replace them. The global teacher shortage is reaching alarming proportions.
The dedication of teachers cannot make up for financially starved education institutions, top-down policies, or systems that fail to trust and respect the professionals dedicated to their students.
A few weeks ago, world leaders came together at the United Nations for the Transforming Education Summit. We were there to speak for the teaching profession.
We called on governments to increase investment in quality public education systems. To guarantee labor rights and good working conditions for teachers and education support personnel. To involve teachers and trust their pedagogical expertise. Because we know transforming education starts with teachers.
Teachers are the beating heart of education.
It is time to commit to the transformative power of public education for each and every student. The world’s teachers, students, and learning communities are ready to build a more just, inclusive, democratic, and sustainable future. We call on all governments to step up and do their part: invest in teachers, involve teachers, trust teachers, respect teachers.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official policies or positions of Education International.