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  • 24.06.2021

The best investment – Supporting teachers in COVID-19 recovery and beyond

Watch the replay here.

Ensuring qualified and motivated teachers in every classroom is the single-most important school-based determinant of quality education and learning outcomes. However, around the world, not only are there not enough teachers, but large numbers have not received sufficient training and lack minimum qualifications. The COVID-19 crisis also shone the light on the need for sustained and increased domestic and international financing and investment in teachers and teaching as the basis of education systems. Teachers must be better prepared to ensure that a generation of learners is not lost.

The side event will present new findings from research carried out by the Teacher Task Force addressing the following questions:

  • How can we identify and tackle the persistent and unresolved global teacher shortages which are jeopardising the future of millions of learners, in particular the most disadvantaged?
  • How much is needed to support teachers in the aftermath of the crisis, in particular in training in ICTs and blended learning, remedial learning as well as to support teachers’ safety and well-being?
  • How to create space in domestic budgets, as well as leverage international funds to support quality teaching, including addressing questions such as teacher motivation, career progression and retention?

Read the concept note.


This event is organized on the sidelines of the Global Education Summit: Financing GPE 2021-2025 in the framework of the Teacher Task Force #InvestInTeachers campaign.

English, French and Spanish interpretation will be provided.

Register here:

Brochure / Flyer
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  • 05.10.2021
  • FR

2021 World Teachers' Day fact sheet

Teachers are a cornerstone of quality education systems and play a key role in building inclusive and equitable societies. While the deadline to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is less than...
  • 06.09.2021

Ensuring inclusion and equity in teacher policies and practices: A sustainable strategy for post-pandemic recovery

Authors: James O'Meara from ICET and Purna Shresta from VSO.

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:

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 or James O’meara at

Photo: The teacher and her students in a Rwanda primary school. Credit: GPE

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  • 07.04.2021

Teachers in Europe; Careers, Development and Well-being

This report analyses key aspects of the professional life of lower secondary teachers (ISCED 2) across Europe. It is based on qualitative Eurydice data from national policies and legislation, and...
  • 15.12.2020

Why the age of the teacher workforce is putting education under strain

The age profile of teachers has been in the news in 2020 due to worries about differential COVID-19 risks related to age. Yet for the return to classrooms to be successful, the participation of all teachers is needed to ensure education can continue. 

Given their vulnerability, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and Education International’s General Secretary David Edwards, in a joint statement underlined that,

”In this context, as we see positive developments regarding vaccination, we believe that teachers and education support personnel must be considered as a priority group.”

While a country’s balance between older and younger teachers matters for many different reasons, data on teacher age is patchy. The main source is TALIS, the Teaching and Learning International Survey, conducted every five years by the OECD.

The survey covers 48 countries. Teachers’ average age differs widely, from 36 in Turkey to 50 in Georgia. Only Saudi Arabia (5%) has fewer teachers aged over 50 than Turkey (6%). At the other extreme, more than half of teachers are aged over 50 in Lithuania (57%), Estonia (54%), Georgia (53%), Latvia (51%) and Bulgaria (51%).

Teachers by age. Secondary, under 30 years / Secondary, 50 years and over, Percentage, 2018 or latest available

Teachers by age


As the chart above shows, Italy and Greece are also among countries where teachers skew older, while in Chile and the United Kingdom they’re younger.

Data from lower-income countries are harder to come by, but a 2006 UNESCO paper found they also show wide differences: half of Kenya’s primary teachers were aged over 50 in 2003, whereas in Niger they were much younger due to a recruitment drive that saw the introduction of many poorly trained contract teachers to meet universal primary education (UPE) goals, and a policy of mandatory retirement after 30 years.

Data on teachers’ experience, which correlates with age, also shows wide gaps. For example, TIMMS – a four-yearly international study – found in 2019 that just 6% of fourth-grade science teachers in Kuwait have over 20 years’ experience, compared to 83% in Lithuania.

Age and experience matter as more experienced teachers are typically paid more. This may incentivise governments to save money by preferring younger teachers – as a report by South Africa’s education department confirmed.

Age profile also affects government planning. A UNESCO paper on pre-primary teaching notes: “countries with large numbers of teachers in their fifties and older need to prepare carefully so that training and recruitment mechanisms are in place to ensure future needs are met”.


Does age matter to outcomes?

The report from South Africa’s education department says cost is not the only reason they prefer to employ younger teachers – they also have more up-to-date training and skills.

On similar lines, a study in Italy found that younger teachers were associated with higher grades, with possible reasons including higher quality of recent training and higher levels of enthusiasm.

On the other hand, analysis by the OECD found that a country’s teacher age profile is not correlated with its students’ performance in PISA assessments. For example, both Singapore and Abu Dhabi have relatively young teachers, yet Singapore scores high educationally while Abu Dhabi does not. High-performing Estonia and lower-performing Bulgaria both have older age profiles.

Likewise, a study in the UK found that “there is no negative link between the age of teachers and educational outcomes”.

However, it makes the point that a balance of old and young is beneficial: “There is also evidence that older teachers add to the overall educational environment through extending the range of experiences, perspectives and knowledge that students can draw upon.”

A columnist in the UK’s Guardian newspaper has the same view: “In a few years’ time, I’ll be a teacher of above average age for England… Yet I feel hopelessly unprepared to become the new ‘old guard’… There is an experience vacuum being created in our schools that robs junior teachers of the role models they need to help them improve.”


Policies to find the right balance

While countries with older teachers need to step up recruitment, those with younger teachers must think about policies to retain existing teachers. Prioritising recruitment over retention risks a high rate of attrition: in the UK almost one in three new teachers leave the profession within five years.

UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning identifies three key policies for teacher recruitment, other than higher salaries: more diverse career opportunities, formalised support networks such as peer learning, and more transparent recruitment processes.

The reasons why teachers leave teaching need more research, according to a UNESCO review in sub-Saharan Africa that found resignation accounts for as many teachers leaving the profession as retirement. A study of Swedish teachers finds “lack of support from administrators, student discipline issues and lack of input and decision-making power” are more important than pay.

OECD analysis of the 2018 TALIS results finds that overall, “education systems will have to renew at least one-third of their teaching workforce in the next 15 years”. 

Available data may paint a convoluted picture, but what is clear is that each country will need to find its own balance between efforts to recruit teachers and efforts to retain them.

Photo: Vicki Francis/Department for International Development

Meeting document
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  • 28.07.2020

Teacher career reforms in Colombia - Country note

The organization and management of teacher careers have been central to Colombia’s strategy for education quality improvement. Since the early 2000s, the country has experienced many education reforms...