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  • 05.10.2020
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2020 World Teachers' Day fact sheet

Teachers are the cornerstone on which we build inclusive, equitable, quality education. The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially compromised teachers’ capacity to maintain education quality due to...
News
  • 05.10.2021

Teachers at the heart of education recovery: What does the latest data tell us about the state of the world’s teachers?

After more than 18 months of variable school closures and remote and hybrid teaching, World Teachers’ Day in 2021 is celebrating teachers and affirming their critical role in maintaining education as a vital service to all children as well as a fundamental human right.

To better inform education stakeholders’ decisions and policy-making, it is essential to understand the state of the world’s teachers through timely measurement and the use of internationally comparable statistics to identify gaps and opportunities. So, the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 has published a World Teachers’ Day 2021 Factsheet as well as a policy brief based on the recent findings of the Trends in International Mathematics and Sciences Study (TIMSS) report* to shed more light on teacher needs, and the need for teachers.

The data in these documents reflect a dire need to reassess the importance of teachers and raise the profile of the profession. In 2016, a projected 69 million additional teachers were needed to ensure universal primary and secondary education by 2030 (SDG target 4.1), and much more must be done to improve teachers’ qualifications, working conditions and status. Moreover, the COVID-19 crisis has not passed, which means pandemic-related needs persist, including teacher vaccination and professional development for the expanded use of remote or hybrid teaching now and in the future. Efforts must be made to ensure that addressing these needs does not take place at the expense of the progress that has been made so far.

To ensure education recovery, more teachers are needed in many countries

Although the total number of primary and secondary teachers worldwide increased by 41% between 2000 and 2020, there are still too few teachers to meet current and expanding needs. This is especially the case in sub-Saharan Africa, where 4.1 million more teachers are currently needed to achieve universal primary and secondary education: almost 1 million in primary and 3.3 million in secondary education. Action to address this shortage is needed urgently, since, as new Teacher Task Force research shows, the gap is projected to increase to 11.2 million teachers by 2025 and 15 million by 2030, based on increasing school-aged populations and replacements needed due to teacher attrition. Needs are greatest in Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Niger and the United Republic of Tanzania, where more than 5% annual growth in the number of teachers is needed just to meet the targets of full primary and secondary enrolment by 2030.

Teacher attrition (teachers choosing to leave the profession) remains a significant contributing factor to the teacher gap in many countries. Teachers abandon their profession for a complex variety of reasons, including low social recognition of their work, lack of opportunities for professional development, insufficient promotion prospects and difficult working conditions. Over a five-year period, primary-level teacher attrition was as high as 22% in Guinea, 17% in Sierra Leone, 16% in Mauritania and 13% in Benin.

While COVID-19’s effects on teacher attrition are not yet clear, in many contexts the pandemic has led to calls for additional teachers to be recruited to ease school reopening, putting further strain on limited financial and other resources. In 2021, however, a global survey by UNESCO/UNICEF/World Bank/OECD on National Education Responses to COVID-19 School Closures revealed that just 31% of 103 countries recruited additional teachers for school reopening, ranging from about half of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to just one-quarter in sub-Saharan Africa, of which most were southern African countries.

More needs to be done to improve teachers’ qualifications 

International comparisons of teacher qualifications are difficult, since teacher training standards and programmes differ widely and have varying entry prerequisites, duration and content. More and better indicators to measure and monitor the multiple dimensions of teacher qualifications need to be developed in order to understand the quality of teachers, their capacity to perform in the classroom and their needs for additional training and continuing professional development (CPD).

Globally, 83% of teachers at both primary and secondary level hold the minimum required qualifications to teach, but the situation differs by region: 97% of teachers at both levels are qualified in Central Asia, compared to 67% of primary and 61% of secondary teachers in sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, regional figures hide wide variations between countries. In Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti and Mauritius, 100% of teachers hold the minimum required qualifications, compared to just 62% in Niger, 52% in Gabon, 27% in Sao Tome and Principe and 15% in Madagascar.

The TTF policy brief, based on TIMSS data, shows that teacher qualifications play an important role in learning outcomes. A multi-country analysis suggests that teachers who have a bachelor’s degree that included pedagogy, have participated in CPD and have at least 10 years’ experience are correlated with stronger learning achievement in many countries.

A bachelor’s degree was the most common qualification among teachers in the 64 high- and middle-income countries participating in TIMSS. Typically, teachers from higher-income countries have higher qualifications: 90% of grade 4 students in mathematics had a teacher with a post-graduate degree in Czechia, Germany, Finland, Poland and Slovakia. On the other hand, in some middle-income countries, including Armenia, Morocco and Pakistan, more than one-third of students had teachers who had only completed upper secondary education.

Teachers need support in addressing pandemic-related needs

Governments have struggled to support teachers in transitioning to remote and hybrid teaching models during school closures. Not only do teachers need training in how to use technologies, they also need specific support for distance learning pedagogies as well as emotional and psychosocial support. The joint UNESCO/UNICEF/World Bank/OECD survey shows that the most common support provided to teachers was instruction on distance education. Globally, 71% of countries provided instructions, ranging from 100% in Eastern and South-eastern Asia to 45% in Central and Southern Asia and 40% in sub-Saharan Africa. In comparison, teachers in just 42% of all countries were provided with ICT tools and internet access, ranging from 67% in Europe and Northern America and 56% in Latin America and the Caribbean to 22% in Eastern and South-eastern Asia and only 6% in sub-Saharan Africa.

The pandemic has precipitated a growing trend in distance education and technology integration in teaching, but according to the TIMSS report, CPD to support online education was inadequate in many countries before the crisis. Across countries, just 35% of grade 4 students had mathematics teachers who had been trained in technology integration.

Finally, for teachers to fully contribute to education recovery, their health and well-being must be strengthened and sustained. This includes prioritizing teachers during vaccination efforts. Currently, 71% of countries have included teachers in a priority group for vaccination (See Teacher prioritization map in COVID-19 vaccine rollout plans). Vaccination efforts are at different stages worldwide, but some countries which did not prioritize teachers have very low rates of fully vaccinated teachers – for example, 12% in Venezuela and 9% in Algeria. Teachers’ mental and emotional health must also be sustained, but just 6 in 10 countries globally and 3 in 10 in sub-Saharan Africa offered psychosocial support to help teachers deal with the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has generated additional strain for teachers who, in many cases, already faced high workloads with inadequate support. To weather the crisis, and to meet the SDG 4 promise, more must urgently be done to give them the resources they need. 


Visual credit: © UNESCO with icons from Shutterstock.com

*The Trends in International Mathematics and Sciences Study (TIMSS) report is an international assessment of student achievement in mathematics and sciences, which contributes to understanding teacher quality and its role in student achievement through a set of indicators that contextualize teacher qualifications within students’ school environments. The new TTF policy brief is based on the latest TIMSS 2019 report, which covered 64 countries.

Brochure / Flyer
  • pdf
  • 05.10.2021
  • FR  |  ES  |  AR

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...
Event
  • 24.09.2021

WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY 2021 in the Arab Region - Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery

REPLAY THE MEETING RECORDING.

This year’s international celebration of the World Teachers’ Day (WTD) focuses on teachers contributions in recovery processes following especially the Covid-19 crisis and its long lasting effects on education and learning in countries the world over. 

Capitalizing on the WTD 2020 celebration in the Arab Region (8 October 2020) organized by the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 (TTF) and UNESCO Office in Beirut, that focused on teacher leadership, this year’s WTD celebration will tackle more specifically what changed (and what needs to change) with regard to teacher continuous professional development. Along with other measures, such as those related to salaries, working conditions and social protection, quality continuous professional development is of utmost importance in preparing and supporting teachers to be at the heart of education recovery. 

Webinar topics

The webinar guest speakers and participants are invited to focus their intervention around several questions, as follows:

  • How did the Covid-19 crisis impact teachers in the Arab Region?

  • What (new) needs and challenges in terms of teacher professional development have occurred/been identified?

  • What are some examples of successful/effective/innovative responses in terms of teacher professional development?

  • What lessons and policy recommendations can be drawn to date.

Concept Note with draft agenda

REGISTER HERE

Event
  • 23.09.2021

Unlocking Teachers’ Innovation to Drive Educational Recovery

Around the world, teachers responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by innovating both in person and in virtual classrooms. However, to be able to continue innovation to support education recovery, teachers need an environment that values the autonomy and leadership necessary to seize opportunities to depart from established practice.

This international webinar is part of the global celebrations to mark World Teachers’ Day 2021. The event will showcase innovations in teaching and learning fostered by individuals and organizations. This will include projects from the UNESCO-Hamdan Prize which celebrates innovative capacity to support teachers. It will also highlight some of the main findings and powerful examples from the open crowdsourcing of teachers’ insights and innovations during the pandemic, which was led by the OECD, UNESCO and the Teacher Task Force in early 2021 through the OECD’s Global Teaching InSights platform. It will aim to also examine the environments and policies necessary to ensure that these innovative practices continue even after in-person schooling resumes.

Join us to celebrate teacher innovations this World Teachers' Day!

Please register here.

Photo credit: Mukesh Kumar Jwala/Shutterstock.com.

Event
  • 23.09.2021

Financing teachers and teaching in the post pandemic recovery

To mark the global celebrations for World Teachers’ Day, ActionAid, UNESCO, the Teacher Task Force and Education International are collaborating to organize a 90-minute webinar, Financing teachers and teaching in the post pandemic recovery on the 8th October 2021 at 9:00-10:30 GMT to highlight:

  • The importance of safeguarding financing to education and investing in teachers and the education workforce
  • Strategies and measures governments can take to ensure adequate financial allocations are made to ensure enough teachers are recruited, deployed, remunerated and supported
  • Ways teachers themselves can play a more active role in the decision-making process at national/decentralized levels

The webinar will bring together civil society representatives teachers/teacher union members and  government representatives, to discuss and debate issues based on existing and emerging research evidence.

Speakers include representatives from:

  • Action Aid
  • Nigerian Teachers Union
  • Ministry officials from Burkina Faso, Malawi and Nepal
  • TaxEd Alliance
  • UNESCO
  • Education International

With closing remarks from UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education, Stefania Giannini.

Please register here.

Photo credit: © European Union, 2021 (photographer: Olympia de Maismont).

Blog
  • 25.11.2020

Pandemic shines a light on teachers’ leadership roles worldwide

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to teaching and learning, it has also shone a bright light on the core strength of education worldwide: the leadership, creativity and ingenuity of teachers. That’s why the theme of World Teachers’ Day on 5 October this year was Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future”.

To coincide with World Teachers’ Day and explore this theme, the Teacher Task Force organized a series of regional discussions on the key role of leadership in solving problems during the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthening the resilience of education systems. Building on the regional meetings in May and June 2020 on distance teaching and the return to school, five discussions were held:

These meetings gave representatives from a wide range of countries an opportunity to highlight the way teachers have shown leadership not only in their teaching but also right across the school and in partnership with parents and the community.

The need to organize and deliver remote learning during lockdowns, for example, drew many ingenious responses from teachers. In Rwanda, teachers wrote scripts for and taught radio lessons. In both Rwanda and Lebanon, teachers taught television lessons.  

Where no technology was available, teachers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo visited pupils door-to-door to deposit and collect school work.

Social media came to the fore in several countries. Teachers in Pakistan started informal WhatsApp classes. In Bhutan, teachers used WeChat, WhatsApp and Telegram Messenger for teaching.

Teachers also demonstrated considerable leadership in their roles as front line workers in the fight against COVID-19, raising general awareness about strict hygiene protocols and ensuring these were respected. In Senegal, teachers took ownership of the design and radio broadcasting of preventive messages against COVID-19. In Bhutan, teachers even repaired fittings and built taps.

School leaders have been instrumental in showing leadership and mentoring other teachers. In Senegal, school leaders helped teachers to produce digital resources, jointly with inspectors and trainers. In Thailand, school leaders encouraged teachers to develop computer programmes for online learning management. In China, school leaders led initiatives emphasizing researching at home, reading, and group study, involving interactions between teachers, parents and students.

Participants in the meetings also explained how school leaders and teachers were working with communities and parents to ensure the continuation of remote teaching and learning, and provide a safe and healthy learning environment.

In the Gambia, for example, community members were trained along with teachers and students to provide leadership and help ensure a safe return to school. In the Balata Refugee Camp in Palestine, students are involved in decision-making through a children’s parliament, working in partnership with teachers and parent coordinators.

The meetings developed a set of recommendations to support teacher leadership both during the COVID-19 crisis and in the longer-term to build better school and teacher resilience.  They included:

  • Teachers’ leadership role should be formalized in teacher policies, education sector plans, professional development frameworks and salaries.
  • Teachers should be encouraged, supported and empowered to embrace their leadership roles.
  • Teachers’ leadership roles should be acknowledged by giving them greater professional autonomy.
  • Teachers’ leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic should be acknowledged and rewarded including through incentives and career paths and structures.
  • Holistic support for teachers, with an increased focus on their psychological and socio-emotional well-being, is the key to fostering a leadership mindset.

Read the full report on the Teacher Task Force Regional Meetings to mark World Teachers’ Day, 5 October 2020.

Blog
  • 14.10.2020

This teacher is using mindfulness and WhatsApp to keep girls in Bangladesh learning despite school closures

While schools in most countries have now reopened their doors after the Covid-19 hiatus, in Bangladesh the government  recently decided to extend the shutdown of educational institutions. Pupils have been out of school since March 17.

For teachers, the extended period out of school is both a challenge – to keep students engaged and learning – and an opportunity to rethink how education should be delivered.

 

Reimagining teaching

Sharmistha Deb is a teacher whose experience of supporting her female fourth-grade students remotely has led her to start a project developing new content on social-emotional learning.

“Research suggests that such learning can help reduce anxiety, suicide, substance abuse, depression, and impulsive behaviour in children,” says Sharmistha, “while increasing test scores, attendance, and social behaviours such as kindness, personal awareness and empathy.”

Lockdown has challenged the wellbeing of many children in Bangladesh. One assessment, conducted in May, found that over half were not taking part in online classes or watching the televised lessons aimed at families without internet access.

Asif Saleh, the executive director of BRAC – an NGO that provides a wide range of services across Bangladesh – has raised concerns about an increase in child marriages in rural areas, while urban areas are seeing more problems with youth crime and drugs.

 

Learning from previous crises

These reports mirror experiences in Africa during the Ebola crisis, according to UNESCO’s reportAddressing the gender dimensions of COVID-related school closures’: Ebola-related school closures “led to increases in early and forced marriages, transactional sex to cover basic needs and sexual abuse, while adolescent pregnancy increased by up to 65% in some communities”.

Sharmistha, a Fellow of the Teach for Bangladesh Fellowship programme, which aims to reduce educational disparities and build the long term leadership skills of educators, wanted the 33 girls in her class to feel connected and important while their school was closed. She uses a range of apps to keep in touch with them – Imo, Viber, WhatsApp and Facebook, as well as phone calls – and check on their mental health.

She found they were experiencing a wide range of psychological impacts due to being isolated from their friends and having to adjust to radically different daily routines, often with more responsibilities for looking after family members. Lockdown increased the financial insecurity of their households, which had already put some of the girls at risk of exploitation and child marriage.

 

Mental health mentoring

Sharmistha talks to the girls about five ways to boost mental health – prayer, healthy food, meditation, exercise and sleep. These conversations have deepened Sharmistha’s belief that teachers need to support students with their emotional wellbeing, help them to deal with anxiety and develop their self-confidence so they in turn can support their families and communities.

“Students may need additional psychological and socio-emotional support” because of lockdown, notes Supporting teachers in back-to-school efforts: A toolkit for school leaders, a recent publication by UNESCO, the Teacher Task Force and ILO. “A whole new set of vulnerabilities could have reared up during school closures, including disruption of vital safety nets such as school meals or exposure to other trauma in ‘at-risk’ households.”

Among the toolkit’s suggestions is “providing checklists for teachers to assess learners’ behaviour and reactions in relation to stress and anxiety”, and making sure teachers know how to report suspicions of abuse.

Building back equal: Girls back to school guide, calls forprofessional development for teachers, school management and other education sector staff to identify and support girls who are struggling psychologically.”

 

Getting girls back to school

There is the challenge of getting girls back to school, after months away and amid continuing fear of the pandemic. Erum Mariam, the executive director of BRAC Institute of Educational Development, says frontline workers need to “give these families psychosocial assistance and to convince parents to send their children back to school… We cannot work under the assumption that once schools open, children will return.”

After the Ebola crisis there were “increases in school drop-outs among girls when schools reopened”.

Sharmistha is already planning how to integrate social-emotional learning into her lessons, with activities on mindfulness, self-control, relationship building, anger management, coping with stress, empathy, conflict resolution and social sensitivity, and identifying the early signs of mental illness.

“We need to develop social-emotional learning strategies that actually work as proactive initiatives for preventing mental illness,” she explains.

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This blog is part of a series of stories addressing the importance of the work of, and the challenges faced by teachers in the lead up to the 2020 World Teachers’ Day celebrations.

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Cover photo credit: Teach For Bangladesh

 

Blog
  • 09.10.2020

These 3 charts show there is still work to do to reach gender equality in the classroom

Education ministries are working to create inclusive and equitable classrooms in pursuit of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4). A key part of this is gender equality (SDG 5). These three charts give an insight into the complex picture of gender in teaching.

 

Chart 1: Two thirds of the world’s teaching workforce is female

Chart 1: Two thirds of the world’s teaching workforce is female

 

The proportion of women in teaching has grown in the past few decades, and today women make up about two-thirds of the world’s teaching workforce (64 per cent). However, to say that women are dominant in the profession would be an oversimplification; the proportion of female teachers varies with factors such as region, subject, seniority, and education level.

For instance, data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics show that globally women make up a decreasing proportion of the teaching workforce. While 94 percent of pre-primary educators globally are women, this falls to 66 per cent in primary education, 54 per cent in secondary education and 43 per cent in tertiary education. 

In high-income countries, teaching is a predominantly female profession with post-secondary education being the exception. In some parts of Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, this gender divide is extreme as women make up more than 90 per cent of primary and secondary school teachers.

While women are better represented in many regions, in sub-Saharan Africa, they are underrepresented in primary, secondary, and tertiary teaching standing at 45 per cent, 30 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively. The are the majority in pre-primary education at 80 per cent of all teachers.

 

Chart 2: In parts of Africa females in secondary education represent fewer than 30% of teachers

Chart 2: In parts of Africa females in secondary education represent fewer than 30% of teachers

 

Many low-income countries have the opposite imbalance. 

This map shows poor female representation in secondary education in Africa. Most countries with very low proportions of women in teaching are found in the Sub-Saharan African region. In Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, DR Congo, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone and South Sudan, for example, fewer than 30 per cent of secondary school teachers are women.

There has been a gradual movement towards gender parity in education systems in lower income regions. And efforts appear to be working. Since 2000, the proportion of women primary school teachers increased from 38 to 53 per cent in Southern Asia and from 42 per cent to 46 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Chart 3: Male and female teachers are almost equal in terms of having achieved the minimum qualifications to teach at each level

Chart 3: Male and female teachers are almost equal in terms of having achieved the minimum qualifications to teach at each level

On a global scale, male and female teachers are near equal with regards to earning the necessary qualifications to teach at all levels. Yet there are significant gender disparities in a number of areas. 

For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, where just 65 per cent of primary and 51 per cent of secondary school teachers have the minimum required qualifications to teach, men comprise a slightly larger proportion of primary school teachers with the minimum required qualifications.

In some countries in sub-Saharan Africa however, female primary school teachers are more likely to have earned their qualifications than their male colleagues. 

Yet despite being more likely to be qualified, women teachers still face inequality when entering the workforce. 

In some cases, this disparity is particularly significant. Around 73 per cent of female primary school teachers in Sierra Leone had the minimum required qualifications compared with 59 per cent of male teachers. 

The overrepresentation of men in teaching across sub-Saharan Africa may suggest that a lack of qualifications presents a greater barrier to women entering teaching than men with the same qualifications in some countries.

 

More support for women teachers needed

Teachers are role models, so it is vital for the teaching workforce to reflect the diversity of their students. Studies suggest that being taught by women may be correlated with improved academic performance and continued education among girls, while having no negative impact on boys. Working towards a teaching workforce in which women and men are equally empowered is key to ensuring inclusive education for all.

There is still some way to go before gender equality is reached in teaching. Efforts to reach gender equality should not be limited to encouraging more men to enter pre-primary and primary teaching, but should also include supporting women teaching at higher levels and in leadership positions.

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This blog is part of a series of stories addressing the importance of the work of, and the challenges faced by teachers in the lead up to the 2020 World Teachers’ Day celebrations.

*

Consult the Gender in Teaching - A key dimension of inclusion infographic published by UNESCO and the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030.

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Cover photo credit: Sandra Calligaro