EDITO - The success or failure in meeting the international target of Education for All by 2015 will depend largely on the action of governments to improve the quantity and quality of the teaching force.
But, as the dossier in this issue points out, the shortage of teachers in both North and South is reaching unprecedented levels. This can be explained by an increasingly challenging and poorly-paid profession which no longer attracts the most talented. While education experts agree that teachers are key to ensuring good quality education, their status, working conditions, career perspectives and professional development have not ceased to plummet.
It is estimated that more than 30 million new teachers will be needed to achieve the goal of Education for All by 2015. In a drive to accelerate recruitment while limiting public spending, some countries are having to recourse to low-paid, poorly trained ‘voluntary’ teachers. Started in the 1980s in the context of structural adjustment policies, the practice has taken root in many countries.
Let us not delude ourselves. Without qualified, competent, motivated and performing teachers, Education for All will not be achieved. Quality must not become the hostage of quantity.
Yet, the guiding principles exist. The 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers sets out standards on numerous issues relating to professional, social, ethical and material concerns of teachers. Although it is almost forty years old, this document is as valid today as it was then.
More recently, the Framework for Action adopted by over 160 countries at the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000 indicates the three ingredients of quality education: well-trained teachers, a curriculum that builds upon the knowledge and experience of teachers and learners, and participatory governance and management.
Aïcha Bah Diallo
Acting Assistant Director-General for Education