On World Teachers' Day, UN agencies urge investing in educators


5 October 2014 – Investing in teachers is urgently needed to provide the best possible opportunities for millions of children, youth and adults worldwide, the heads of various United Nations agencies today said in a joint statement marking World Teachers' Day.

“An education system is only as good as its teachers,” the agency chiefs said, calling for more rigorous training, better conditions for employment, quality-based teacher recruitment, thoughtful deployment and attracting new teachers and talents, especially young people and women from under-represented communities.

“Innovative, inclusive and results-focused teaching is crucial for 2015 and beyond,” they added in their message for the Day, which this year marks its 20th anniversary.

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

One of the main concerns in many countries is a lack of educators. An additional 1.4 million teachers are needed to achieve universal primary education by 2015, the second of the eight anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

UNESCO reported last week that a global shortage of teachers has pressured many countries into hiring educators with little or no training, undermining the educational progress of numerous school-age children around the world.

“We face today a global learning crisis, with 250 million children not learning the basics, over half of whom have spent four years in school,” the senior UN officials today noted.

They highlighted also that support for teachers' effectiveness is part of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda draft. The 'Global Thematic Consultation on Education,' which is part of the draft, includes decent conditions of employment, good work environment conditions, high-quality pre-and in-service training for teachers and effective management, including teacher recruitment and deployment.

Moreover, the UN agency chiefs also noted that quality teaching depends on teachers enjoying basic rights, such as protection from violence, academic freedom and the freedom to join independent unions.

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.

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