“In many countries not all children have the opportunity to enter a classroom or gain basic literacy or numeracy skills, as there are simply not enough qualified teachers. This has negative outcomes not only for the future of individual children, but also for the development of whole societies” said the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, in a message marking World Teachers’ Day celebrated on 5 October every year.
The emphasis of this year’s World Teachers’ Day is on the importance of “Planning for an Effective Teaching Force”. Noting the serious lack of data necessary “to facilitate ongoing and effective planning”, the message calls for “complete, timely and comprehensive data and information about teachers, schools and pupils”, and “information on the investments from public and private sources (…) as well as on teachers’ aspirations, the impact of teacher training, including in-service training, the obstacles and means to fully engage teachers and their organisations in key education decisions”
The message is co-signed by Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, Kemal Dervis, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Thulas Nxesi, President of Education International.
The UNESCO Director General will read the message in the morning of 5 October 2007, and then invite the other signatories or their representatives to make comments. The ceremony will be followed by a high level panel discussion on “Issues and Challenges Facing the Teaching Profession: the Way Forward” bringing together the signatories and experts to debate on the key issues and challenges facing the teaching profession and the achievement of EFA and Millennium Development goals.
This panel ties in with a three-day workshop organised by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and UNESCO’s Higher Education Division, Section for Teacher Education, on "Improving Comparative Indicators on Teachers and Teaching: Current Policies, Emerging Issues, Opportunities and Challenges”. Experts from key organizations and the academic world (Action Aid, Centre national d’enseignement à distance (CNED), French Ministry of Education, Pole de Dakar, Director of the Centre for Research, Education and Training in Energy (CREATE) - University of Sussex, World Bank) will discuss indicators, information systems, research, cost analysis, micro-planning and school mapping to facilitate formulation of evidence-based teacher policy.
UNESCO estimates that the world will need 18 million new teachers by 2015, 4 million in Africa alone, to meet the target of providing quality primary education for all children. In more developed countries, there are concerns about recruitment and retention of teachers as well as shortfalls in the number of teachers trained in specific subjects.
With the largest part of education budgets, 70-80%, and sometimes more, being allocated to teachers and other personnel, it is crucial that Governments make informed decisions on how to use the funds effectively. This year’s World Teachers’ Day event and the joint UNESCO HQ/UIS workshop seeks to support governments in this decision making process through the provision of more and increased relevance of data and information.
World Teachers’ Day commemorates the adoption in 1966 of the joint ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. A second UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel was adopted in 1997. Both Recommendations lay down the guidelines on crucial issues such as preparation and employment conditions for teachers; participation of teachers and their organizations in educational decisions; and measures that should be taken in each country in order to promote quality teachers and learning environments. They are the only comprehensive international standards for the teaching profession in existence.
The World Teachers’ Day ceremony will take place in the morning of October 5th, 2007, from 10 am to 12.30 pm in Room II and the Workshop will be held from October 3rd to 5th, 2007 in Room IX, UNESCO, 7, Place de Fontenoy, Paris.