This blog was originally published on the GPE site.
Qualified and motivated teachers are the single-most important school-based determinant of quality education. That’s why the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 is calling on national decision makers and international funding organizations to choose the best investment they can make in today’s teachers for tomorrow’s future.
Investing in education is critical to reach the world’s agenda for sustainable development, as well as to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and foster citizens who can tackle future global challenges.
At a time in which so many voices are coming together to support the Global Partnership for Education’s replenishment campaign, the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 is making a plea: let’s put teachers at the center of education investments.
Funding and training gaps for teachers
Around the world, education systems are facing massive challenges when it comes to teachers.
In many low and lower-middle income countries there are not enough teachers, and large numbers of them have not received sufficient training and support. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, only two-thirds of primary teachers have been trained to practice at this level, and this proportion falls to only half of secondary teachers.
The Global Partnership for Education estimates that it costs, on average, US $371 dollars to train a teacher in its partner countries. Its ambition is to train 3.5 million teachers, who could reach 140 million students. This will represent about 1 in every 6 dollars – about 16% - of the budget the partnership hopes to spend over the next five years.
This will make an incredibly important contribution to meeting the trained teacher gap, which we believe is one of the cornerstones of reaching the other education goals and the SDGs.
Investment is particularly needed so that teachers are prepared for the challenges that the COVID-19 crisis has caused, notably to enable remedial and adaptive teaching and to ensure that a generation of learners is not lost.
Yet, teacher professional development is just one aspect for which funding is urgently needed if we are to sustainably build a teacher workforce that is motivated, supported and protected.
A call to action for more financing for teachers
For this reason, the members of the Teacher Task Force have come together to launch a campaign calling on governments and the donor community to #InvestInTeachers and increase funding, to:
- maintain teachers’ salaries and enhance their working conditions to attract quality candidates
- improve teachers’ initial education and continuing professional development
- ensure health and safety and provide socio-emotional support for teachers and students.
Students who are already disadvantaged – living in remote or conflict-affected areas, for example – are disproportionally affected by teacher shortages. In many countries, there are concerns about the impact on teachers of low salaries, heavy workloads, high levels of stress and poor working conditions.
The COVID-19 crisis added yet another layer of complexity, with teachers bearing the brunt of the massive upheavals that nearly every education system faced once schools moved to total or partial closures.
During the pandemic, special training to help deal with the crisis was offered to teachers in less than half of all countries and only about 15% in sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania.
Qualified and motivated teachers are the single-most important school-based determinant of quality education.
When teachers are better paid, their students have higher test scores, in high-income countries as well as in sub-Saharan Africa. Teachers play a critical role in fighting gender stereotypes and promoting inclusion within classrooms and beyond.
During the COVID-19 crisis, teachers not only adapted swiftly to online and distance learning, but also provided crucial socio-emotional support for students and their families, and shared vital health information within communities.
A campaign for teachers to ensure a better future for all
Just over a year ago, the members of the Teacher Task Force came together to shine a light on the teaching community’s role in tackling the education disruptions brought on by the pandemic.
In our Call for Action on Teachers, we identified six target areas where action is necessary to ensure that teachers can support learning continuity. These included preserving wages and salaries, protecting teachers’ and learners’ well-being, ensuring teachers are included in decision making, improving and accelerating teacher training, ensuring responses had a strong equity lens, and including teachers in recovery packages.
One year later, we can see many positive advances. While teachers have been recognized for their role in ensuring learning continuity, there has been a renewed acknowledgement of the importance of face-to-face teaching and the safe space that schools provide. In particular, teachers have innovated in spectacular ways, finding solutions to ensure that students keep learning, within both online and offline environments.
There are countless examples of teachers who have spontaneously come together to create learning groups and peer support, often across borders. One teacher in Indonesia created an online community, which grew to over 800 teachers, and in the Maldives, a parent-teacher support group was created to guide teachers and parents dealing with distance learning for special needs children.
However, the crisis has clearly shown the need to sustain and increase domestic and international investment in teachers and teaching. Our “InvestInTeachers” campaign has already begun on social media, and you can sign up to receive updates on new research and events on our website.
Join us in calling on national decision makers and international funding organizations to choose the best investment they can make – in today’s teachers for tomorrow’s future.
For more information visit the campaign’s webpage.