Education International
Education International

An open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon from the educators of the world

published 26 September 2014 updated 30 September 2014

Dear Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, we are bringing to you the voices of the teachers and education workers of the world.

A year ago, on World Teachers’ Day 2013, we launched our Unite for Quality Education campaign, our global effort to demand quality education for all. We have witnessed first-hand that efforts to meet the basic goal of education for all are falling short. As you know, globally nearly 60 million children remain out of school; the world has not delivered on its promise to ensure universal access to quality education.

Over the past year we have been assessing the progress towards the Millennium Development and Education For All Goals, with a view towards informing, and bringing an educator’s perspective to, the deliberations around a post- 2015 development agenda. Our vision of quality education rests on three pillars: quality teaching, quality tools for teaching and learning, and quality environments for teaching and learning.

Quality teaching means that all students are taught by trained and qualified teachers who enjoy basic labour rights, decent working conditions and salaries, and have access to continuous professional development.

Quality tools include relevant and inclusive curricula as well as basic materials, such as pencils, notebooks and computers. Our education systems must provide our students with the critical knowledge, abilities and skills that they need to conceptualise, question and solve problems that occur both locally and globally.

Quality learning environments are safe and supportive with adequate numbers of education support personnel; our students must feel safe at school and should enjoy basic infrastructure such as clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, including separate toilets for boys and girls.

All of these elements are necessary if we want our students to be able to focus on learning – and if we want them to be taught effectively. None of this can be taken for granted in the world we live in today.

Teachers’ qualifications and training, support and, importantly, motivation is fundamental for the delivery of quality education. Yet, countries around the world continue to tolerate substantial shortages of qualified teachers, and millions of teachers live in poverty and teach in severely under-resourced schools and overcrowded classrooms, with little influence over matters concerning their daily work. In addition many teachers have no support for the students in their classrooms, either from professionally qualified support personnel or from ancillary support staff.

We know that education transforms lives and societies. Yet, governments have failed to fund their systems sufficiently, effectively and equitably. They have also failed to recognise the expertise of teachers and education workers, and to give them their rightful place in education processes.

On behalf of the teachers of the world, we would like to commend you for the Global Education First Initiative and we hope you consider our Unite for Quality Education Campaign as our contribution to this effort. As the world is formulating a new development agenda, we call on you to renew your commitment to quality education, and to teachers specifically. The world cannot wait any longer; there must be a stand-alone goal on quality education, accessible and free to all, in the new sustainable development framework. Such a goal must include comprehensive targets, encompassing all levels of education, from early childhood to higher education, and clear commitments on investing in more and appropriately trained and qualified teachers.

Many of our concerns and demands are reflected in the proposal of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, and we particularly welcome the target on completion of free and equitable quality primary and secondary education. However, the ambition must be greater in relation to teachers; our struggle for quality education will not stop before every child is taught by a highly-trained, professionally qualified, well-supported and motivated teacher.

Finally, let us thank you in advance for all your work to ensure a stand-alone goal on quality education for all and reaffirm our commitment to the process; Education International and its members will continue to be your ally in our common struggle for quality education for all.

Susan Hopgood


Fred van Leeuwen

General Secretary