On World Teachers’ Day, new report highlights urgent need to improve education

A lack of qualified teachers and poor working conditions for teaches worldwide are highlighted in a report released by Education International to mark World Teachers’ Day (5 October).

World Teacher’s Day this year focuses on the global shortage of qualified teachers. The urgency of this focus is underscored by the fact that more than 263 million children and youth worldwide are not in school. A staggering 617 million children and adolescents – nearly 60 per cent globally – have not mastered basic literacy or numeracy.

This critical issue was also highlighted in a ground-breaking report, Global Status of Teachers and the Teaching Profession, released by Education International (EI) on World Teachers’ Day. In addition, the report reveals common challenges faced by teachers worldwide such as poor working conditions, precarious contracts, inadequate teaching tools and high levels of stress. All these issues contribute to making the profession unattractive to young people as well as causing attrition – both hugely problematic at a time when there is an urgent need to address the global shortage of qualified teachers in order to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4.

The study, written by Professor Nelly P. Stromquist from the University of Maryland, is based on the results of a survey that includes the voices of 140 teacher organisations affiliated to EI, from early childhood through to higher education.

EI’s new report highlights the urgent need for improvement in professional training - only one in three teachers (30 per cent) report having access to CPLD and 77 per cent see the CPLD they do receive as of poor quality and little value. Respondents voiced need for support particularly when it came to teaching students with special needs, followed by the development of their ICT skills and gender and sexuality training.

The study also shows how inequities in education continue to rise, replicating and producing inequities in society. Over three-quarters (79 per cent) of African unions report that teachers have to travel long distances to collect their pay; almost two-thirds (64 per cent) cite inadequate housing, and poor access to latrines and water in schools. These conditions adversely affect all in the education community, but have an even bigger impact on women. Workload continues to rise, with four out of ten female teachers in Japan (41 per cent) reporting that their working environment adversely affected their experiences with pregnancy and childbirth.

EI’s report “is a wake-up call to governments”, said its General Secretary, David Edwards. “While it is more accepted that education is essential, governments need to put their money where their mouths are.” He highlighted the growth of privatisation in the education sector and its iniquitous effects as an ongoing concern – 90 per cent of unions report an increase in education privatisation, with almost half of parents having to contribute either fully or partly to their children’s educational costs.

David Edwards and deputy general secretary Haldis Holst were the hosts of a webinar that presented the report on October 4th. The video is available here.

The full report can be accessed here.