World Teachers Day Highlights Educator Shortage

NCLB_Whats_at_StakeThe world needs more school teachers. A lot of them. Almost 26 million will need to be recruited to provide every child with a primary education by 2030, according to a report from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).

Filling these positions with high quality educators is critical to reaching the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, which are the focus of this year’s World Teachers Day event. Education International, with its affiliates and partners worldwide, including the National Education Association where president Lily Eskelsen Garcia is Education International’s Vice President of the North American and Caribbean regions, celebrate World Teachers Day every year on October 5.

“Every year on World Teachers’ Day, we celebrate educators and the central role they play in providing children everywhere with a quality education. Today, as the global community comes together around the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, the role teachers play has never have been more important,” says a Joint Message on the occasion of the World Teachers’ Day (WTD)” signed by UNESCO, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNICEF, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Education International (EI).

Of the 17 Sustainable Development goals, Goal 4 seeks to provide every child with complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education by 2030. But there are millions of children who don’t attend school around the world, and universal primary and secondary education will be unattainable if aid fails to reach those who need it most, says the UIS report. Today, an extra 2.7 million teachers are needed to reach the 59 million children excluded from education and accommodate them in classrooms with no more than 40 pupils per teacher, according to UIS data.

There are 96 countries who are still struggling to achieve universal primary education. According to UIS projections, only 37 countries (39%) will have enough primary teachers in classrooms by 2020 and the share will rise to 56% by 2025. However, 33 countries (34%) will still not have enough teachers to achieve Universal Primary Education in 2030.

There is a mounting shortage of quality teachers, unequal distribution of trained teachers, and inadequate or non-existent national standards for the teaching profession. The poorest regions and schools and the earliest grades – those most in need – are often the most affected.

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics estimates that to achieve universal primary education by 2030 countries will need to recruit a total of 10.9 million primary teachers.

The shortage is also impacting the U.S., according to new research from the Economic Policy Institute, which reports that the number of teachers and education staff fell dramatically during the recession, and has failed to get anywhere near its prerecession level, let alone the level that would be required to keep up with an expanding student population.

There are 236,000 fewer public education jobs in the U.S. today than there were seven years ago. Even though the number of teachers rose by 41,700 over the last year, the U.S. is currently experiencing a 410,000 job shortfall in public education.

Recognizing the looming crisis at the 2015 World Education Forum, held in Incheon, South Korea, leaders committed to “ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated, and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.”

By committing to the Education 2030 agenda, the UN Member States have agreed to substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.

“We must intensify efforts to provide sufficiently qualified, well deployed, motivated, and supported teachers to every school, every community, and every child,” the Joint Message states.

Find out more about World Teachers Day.