Education International
Education International

World Teachers’ Day 2008: Teachers matter!

published 4 September 2008 updated 4 September 2008

Every day, in millions of classrooms around the world, the universal endeavour of teaching and learning takes place. The gift of literacy is passed from one generation to the next, along with love of learning and thirst for knowledge. When knowledge is shared, skills are gained and lives can be changed.

At the heart of it all is that key relationship between teachers and their students, a relationship based on every society’s caring for, and investment in, the next generation. Teachers shape the future in the most profound ways, by inspiring the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s leaders. World Teachers’ Day is set aside by the world community to celebrate teachers and the central role they play in nurturing and guiding infants, children, youth and adults through the life-long learning process. 5 October On 5 October 1966, the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers was unanimously adopted by nations around the world. It was the first international instrument by which governments recognised the fundamental importance of having highly-qualified teachers and strong, stable public education systems. The Recommendation is so important that 5 October, the anniversary of its signing, became the date chosen for World Teachers’ Day. Global teacher shortage UNESCO estimates that 18 million more teachers are needed worldwide if universal primary education is to be achieved by 2015. This shortage of qualified teachers is considered one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the EFA goals. Teachers’ low wages are at the root of the global shortage. Around the world teachers are crying out for the resources they need to meet the needs of their students, their families and their communities. Millions are living below the poverty line, struggling to feed their own children as they strive to educate others people’s children. That’s why teachers’ unions around the world are demanding living wages and decent working conditions, including adequate learning resources and reasonable class sizes, in order to recruit the best and the brightest young people into this vitally important profession. Active recruitment and retention strategies are an essential part of the solution, but the task of training millions more new teachers remains a challenge. Professional training for quality education This year’s activities for World Teachers’ Day are focused on professional training for quality education. Never before has this need been greater. While everyone in the world has the fundamental right to quality education, unfortunately access to this right is woefully unequal. In an effort to cope with millions more children in schools, some governments have resorted to engaging untrained teachers to save money and fill classrooms. To help bridge the huge gap between the supply of qualified teachers and the demand for quality education, the Executive Board of EI decided to become actively involved in teacher training. Thanks for the gift of learning! Education International encourages you to take a moment to thank a teacher who made a difference in your life. Just visit our World Teachers’ Day web site, where you can choose an electronic greeting card to send to your favourite teacher: www.5oct.org