The Global Education Summit in July raised a record US$4 billion, which will help 175 million children learn. This stunning effort shows what is possible when governments work with the UN and other intergovernmental organizations, alongside development agencies and organizations from civil society and the private sector. Such cooperation will help us achieve the common objective envisaged in the fourth Sustainable Development Goal: ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Education that includes everyone and gives everyone a fair chance of learning is not possible without ensuring that everyone has access to quality teachers. It is crucial to implement policies and practices that promote inclusion and equity for teachers in every educational context, considering gender, socio-economic status, location, ability, and other factors that can lead to exclusion.
Ensuring that everyone has access to quality teachers requires significant levels of investment, especially in least developed countries and small island developing states. To ensure quality education for all by 2030, Sub-Saharan Africa – the region with the highest concentration of least developed countries – will need to recruit and prepare 15 million teachers.
Providing access to quality teachers for all requires:
- closing the gaps in teacher numbers, qualifications, gender, and connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa. The proportion of qualified teachers in the region has steadily declined since 2000 at both primary and secondary levels. Female teachers play a pivotal role in encouraging girls’ enrolment, but less than 50% of primary teachers and 30% of secondary teachers are female. Lack of infrastructure and Internet connectivity were exposed during COVID-19 school closures when they posed an immense barrier to distance and hybrid teaching.
- holistic and inclusive policy dialogue that genuinely involves teachers, during the development, implementation and assessment of teaching policies and practices that promote fair opportunities for all teachers.
- innovations in recruitment, as current approaches are failing to close teacher gaps. New approaches should focus on creating new pathways into teaching for people from groups underserved and underrepresented in teacher workforces. Establishing such pathways will help to close not only the numbers gap but also demographic gaps, for example by positioning local role models from local communities who use local dialects in hard-to-staff classrooms across the globe.
- quality professional development for all to increase levels of teacher retention. If we are to “retain the trained” we need to support countries along every stage of their journey in designing, implementing and evaluating high-quality and effective teacher professional development programmes and systems. If we fail to “retain the trained” by 2030 we will have failed to heed the warnings by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics in 2014 that by 2030, 89% (24 million teachers) of the teacher gap will be caused by attrition.
Helping 175 million children learn moves us closer to the shared vision expressed in SDG4. The international education community will be able to maintain the momentum created by the Global Education Summit – and help to ensure quality teachers for all – at the 13th Policy Dialogue Forum and governance meetings of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030, which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, and online from December 1 to December 3, 2021. The meetings provide the ideal setting to come together again and invest in teachers now to ensure sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and prepare today’s learners for tomorrow.
Have your say in developing, implementing and assessing teaching policies
The Inclusion and Equity in Teacher Policies and Practices Thematic group is launching a series of online discussions – synchronous (September 2021) and asynchronous (October and November). The discussions are designed to allow you to get involved with shaping policies and practices that promote fair opportunities for all teachers. By sharing your knowledge, you can help bridge the growing gaps in teacher recruitment, preparation and deployment, which have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
Your engagement in this inclusive policy dialogue will ensure teachers and their representative organizations have a greater voice in policy-making processes. You can participate in these discussions at a time and place convenient to you, increasing the diversity of perspectives on how to provide pathways into teaching for the underserved, vulnerable and underrepresented (including migrants, people with disabilities, indigenous people, ethnic minorities and the poor), closing the teacher numbers gap across the globe.
Details of the first synchronous session on September 24 will be posted on the TTF website. If you are already a TTF member, please visit the TTF website and join the Inclusion and Equity in Teacher Policies and Practices thematic group in the Member Space before the event so you can receive information on TTF events. If you are not a TTF member, please contact the coordinators of the thematic group: Purna Shrestha at firstname.lastname@example.org or James O’meara at email@example.com.
Photo: The teacher and her students in a Rwanda primary school. Credit: GPE