World Teachers’ Day: EI takes the stage at UNESCO Conference and proposes five measures to make teaching a more attractive profession

published 7 October 2019 updated 4 November 2019

During the conference celebrating World Teachers’ Day at UNESCO headquarters, Education International proposed five key measures that should be taken by governments to attract and retain young people into the profession.

World Teachers’ Day is held annually on 5 October since 1994. It commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This year, World Teachers’ Day focused on “Young teachers, the future of the profession”.

The official celebration of World Teachers’ Day was held on 7 October at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The conference revolved around two panel discussions: “How to attract young people to the teaching profession” and “How to retain young and novice teachers to the profession”.

Speaking at the event, Education International’s (EI) Dennis Sinyolo reminded that “research evidence is very clear: teachers are the most important in-school determinant of educational quality. Your being here today is clear testimony to the important role teachers play in preparing young people for life and work.”

Aging teacher population in many developed countries, persistent teacher shortages, particularly in developing countries, and high levels of teacher attrition around the world, demand immediate and concrete action by governments to ensure that every child is taught by an empowered, highly-trained, professionally-qualified, well-supported and motivated teacher.

Sinyolo put forward five key measures that EI calls on governments to implement in order to attract young people and retain them in the profession:

  • Improve the status and working conditions of teachers – In many countries, teaching has become a profession of last resort or a stepping-stone to other professions.
  • Support young and beginning teachers to become expert teachers – Governments should ensure the provision of quality induction and mentoring programmes for new teachers.
  • Give young teachers, academics and researchers the freedom and autonomy they need to excel – There is too much mistrust and control in many education systems.
  • Create teacher networks and professional learning communities – We need to create opportunities for young teachers and all educators to collaborate and learn from each other. Physical and virtual networks can provide a great opportunity for teachers to share resources, expertise and experiences.
  • Give young teachers and all educators the space to shape education policy – In a survey conducted by Education International in 2015 among 15,000 teachers from 123 countries, over 80% of teachers reported that they were not consulted when governments introduced new education or curricular reforms. In July, the 8th EI World Congress adopted a global framework of professional teaching standards. EI has been working on this important framework together with UNESCO, and hopes it will be an important resource for governments, teacher organisations and all key education stakeholders.

Sinyolo also stressed that social dialogue is a precondition for successful education policies, decent working conditions and harmonious relations between the government as employer and teacher unions. Therefore, social dialogue, including collective bargaining, should be guaranteed through truly inclusive and functional legislation.

“As we celebrate this year’s World Teachers’ Day, let’s remember to not just talk about the importance of our teachers, but let’s walk the talk by taking concrete measures to make teaching a first choice and sought-after profession,” Sinyolo concluded.