Education International
Education International

Paris: ‘Teaching today’ the focus of World Teachers Day

published 6 October 2014 updated 13 October 2014

For its 20th anniversary, World Teachers Day centres its attention on improving the working and living conditions of teachers today to pave the way to a better tomorrow for education.

Education leaders and experts from around the world arrived in Paris for the 20th annual World Teachers Day Monday to exchange ideas and tackle the problems facing the profession. The discussions and workshops at UNESCO Headquarters revolved around this year’s theme, “Teaching today: an international overview of professional development and conditions of work.”

UNESCO Assistant Director-General Qian Tang set the tone early in his address when he called on those dedicated to the teaching profession to work together.

“We must stay united to support teachers,” he said, adding that “Investing in teachers means investing in the future.”

Launching the ‘Toolkit’

Tang joined Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen and representatives from the Global Monitoring Report (GMR) team to launch their joint project, the ‘Advocacy Toolkit for teachers to provide a quality education.’ The toolkit, an online initiative created to empower teachers in their day-to-day jobs.

The Toolkit provides teachers a variety of resources, ranging from ways of influencing government policy, teacher training opportunities to implementing change in the classroom.

In his opening remarks, van Leeuwen said that the Toolkit “will go a long way in supporting teachers worldwide to advocate for quality education and quality teachers for all.” However, the EI General Secretary made it clear that broader changes must be made in order to entice more young people to take up the teaching profession.

“The attractiveness of the teaching profession needs to be urgently improved,” said Van Leeuwen before a packed conference room. “The current generation of teachers is ageing and alarming numbers of new teachers are leaving the profession within the first years of employment.”

Safe schools make for better education

From Nigeria where hundreds of schoolgirls are still missing, and 177 teachers have been killed, to the destruction of schools in Gaza and the war in Iraq, van Leeuwen also passionately referenced the hardships that many teachers in the world face every day in places of conflict and violence as he brought attention to the difficult working and living conditions educators must endure.

“Colleagues, these people were our front line soldiers,” he said. “They stood up for the rights of their students. They refused to stop teaching and close their schools. But they paid the highest price.”

World Teachers Day events will continue through Tuesday, Oct 7 when the focus shifts to ensuring that education is included as a stand-alone goal in the new UN development framework after 2015.

Photos from the Paris event are available here