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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

UNESCO celebrates World Teachers’ Day

UNESCO celebrates World Teachers’ Day
  • © UNESCO/A. Wheeler

On 5 October 2009, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, addressed the conference* organized at UNESCO Headquarters to mark World Teachers’ Day, which is celebrated annually on 5 October since 1994.

“Build the future: invest in teachers now!” is the theme of World Teachers’ Day 2009, putting the spotlight on the global teacher shortage and the challenges of being a teacher today.

The conference considered the implications of expanding and strengthening the global teaching force in the current economic context. In the first of two round tables, UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics presented new data on the teacher gap, and key considerations for meeting the goals of Education for All (EFA). In the second round table, teachers from Africa, Asia and Europe spoke about their daily work experience and the challenges of being a teacher today.

The Director-General began his intervention** by recalling that World Teachers’ Day commemorates the signing in 1966 of the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which provides comprehensive guidance on a range of teacher policies, rights and responsibilities.

Mr Matsuura went on to highlight the joint message*** he co-signed with the heads of ILO, UNICEF, UNDP and Education International, in which they argue that “the ability of education systems to respond effectively to the needs of today’s learners depends largely on the action that is taken now to recruit, train and support teachers and to ensure decent work for them.”

“The world faces an acute shortage of trained and qualified teachers,” emphasized Mr Matsuura, citing the most recent estimates from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, which state that for the period 2007-2015 around 10.3 million teachers need to be recruited just to provide universal primary education.

The Director-General underscored that “the teacher challenge remains huge and addressing it will require major political and financial investment.” He continued: “The current economic and financial crisis is putting government budgets under strain. It is our foremost responsibility to ensure that spending on education is protected and to ensure that investments match needs. To address the teacher gap a balance must be struck between the short-term need to get teachers into classrooms and the longer term goal of building up a high-quality professional teaching force.”

Recalling that teachers were singled out as a key policy concern at the EFA High-Level Group meeting in Oslo in December 2008, Mr Matsuura described some of the actions UNESCO has taken to address this issue. He highlighted the setting up of an international Task Force on Teachers for EFA, whose Secretariat is based at UNESCO. The Director-General also underlined that UNESCO has increased its budget support to the Teacher Training Initiative for sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA) and to the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA). “Within the framework of TTISSA, UNESCO has recently developed, in consultation with its Member States and other partners, a policy toolkit to help countries conduct a national diagnosis of their needs and develop comprehensive teacher policies,” he noted.

In conclusion, Mr Matsuura stated: “all these activities at international, regional and country level reflect our steady commitment to teachers. Let me take this occasion to give special recognition to the teachers present here today and to thank all participants for their engagement. I trust this event will further strengthen our capacity to expand and improve the teaching profession worldwide.”

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 182-2009
  • 07-10-2009
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