Some 1,7 Million More Teachers Needed … by 2015!

Human Wrongs Watch

Some 1.7 million more teachers are needed to achieve universal primary education by 2015, the second of the eight anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the heads of various United Nations agencies said in a joint statementmarking World Teachers’ Day on 5 October 2012.

Kisojo Model Primary School in Kyenjojo District in Uganda. Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2010-1482/Shehzad Noorani

“On this day, we call for the creation of supportive teaching environments, adequate teacher training and safeguards for the rights of teachers,” the agency chiefs said, calling on governments to provide required training and fair salaries reflecting the importance of the profession while teachers, in turn, must be accountable to their students and communities, the UN reports.

“We must break the vicious cycle of declining professional conditions for teachers in order to improve the quality of learning for all,” they added. “The world expects a lot from teachers – they, in turn, are right to expect as much from us.”

The statement was issued by UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova; the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Anthony Lake; the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Administrator, Helen Clark; the UN International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Director-General, Guy Ryder; and Fred van Leeuwen, the General Secretary of Education International, which represents teachers’ organizations across the globe.

How to Attract Committed Teachers

“Attracting committed and diverse teachers requires environments that value professional autonomy and equality,” they said. “Teachers need to be supported in fulfilling their responsibilities to students, and their voices must be listened to by school leaders, education systems and public authorities.”

According to UNESCO, teacher shortages remain a major obstacle for countries to achieve the goal of universal primary education, with a quality education offering hope and the promise of a better standard of living, while also noting that there can be no quality education without competent and motivated teachers.

World Teachers’ Day, held annually since 1994, commemorates the anniversary of the signing in 1966 of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers, and celebrates the essential role of teachers in providing quality education at all levels. The Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers has, essentially, served as a charter of rights for teachers worldwide.

‘Take a Stand for Teachers!’

The slogan for this year’s observance is ‘Take a stand for teachers!’ which, according to UNESCO, relates to the need to provide adequate training, ongoing professional development, and protection for teachers’ rights.

The 63-year-old UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which assists some five million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East, marked the Day by launching two programmes focussed on school-based teacher development and quality improvement that underscores the Agency’s broader human development and humanitarian agenda.

Education is UNRWA’s largest programme, accounting for more than half of the Agency’s regular budget, with one of the largest school systems in the Middle East, providing half a million Palestine refugee children with free-of-charge basic education every day.

“Across the Arab World, countries are striving to improve the quality of their education system through reform,” UNRWA’s director of education Caroline Pontefract said.

“Many lessons have been learned about what is important, what to focus on, and the way in which to change and improve on what we have. UNRWA’s education reform reflects these lessons with the focus it places on teachers and school leaders, who are key actors in achieving quality education.”

A $1.5 Billion Initiative to Achieve Universal Education

On 26 September 2012, UN  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that he has secured $1.5 billion in commitments for a new initiative to increase access to, and the quality of, education for children worldwide.

“Every one of us stands on the shoulders of our teachers, our communities, our families who believed in us and invested in our education,” Ban said at the launch of the Education First initiative, at the margins of the 67th session of the General Assembly in New York. “We are here today because we know every child everywhere deserves that same chance.”

Countries, private companies and foundations mobilized resources for the initiative, which will focus on three priorities over the next five years. These priorities are: putting every child in school, improving the quality of learning and fostering global citizenship through education, the UN reported.

Education First

“Education First seeks to answer the call of parents everywhere for the schooling their children deserve – from the earliest years to adulthood,” Ban said.

At the end of the 1990s, 108 million children of primary school age were not enrolled in schools. That number has fallen to 61 million today, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) global monitoring report.

While there has been significant progress, Ban stressed there is still much left to do to help achieve universal primary education – one of the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – before the target date of 2015.

“We must spare no effort to achieve the MDGs by 2015. We have three years and three months. We must intensify our work. This is our collective responsibility.”

Tools, Skills for Job Market

Ban also emphasized that the initiative will encourage transformative education that will give children the necessary tools and skills for today’s job market, bridging the gap between skills and technological power, while at the same time helping young people “forge more just, peaceful and tolerant societies.”

Among the countries that pledged to intensify their support for Education First are Australia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Timor-Leste and Denmark. From the private sector, the Western Union Foundation and the Master Card Foundation pledged to give grants for economically disadvantaged students from the African continent so they can complete their education.

Read also:

Teachers Under Severe Challenges – World Day

World Youth: No Jobs, No Education; Big Frustration, Scare

2012 Human Wrongs Watch

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