The UN High Panel on the Teaching Profession: Panelists discuss strategies to end the teacher shortage

published 4 August 2023 updated 27 February 2024

On 1 August, the UN High-Panel on the Teaching Profession convened its second virtual meeting bringing together leading experts, policymakers, and representatives from education organizations to address crucial issues within the teaching profession. Education International, as the voice of the profession at the global level, plays a central role in the Panel.  

The objective of the UN High-Level Panel is to develop actionable recommendations to ensure that every learner has a professionally trained, qualified and supported teacher, who can flourish within a transformed education system.

Their first meeting on 18 July served to ensure panelists had a clear overview of the working methods of the Panel, which is co-chaired by Paula Weekes of Trinidad and Tobago and Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia and supported by a UNESCO-ILO Secretariat.

In the second meeting, the Panelists discussed three core imperatives for the teaching profession:

  • Dignity, broadly framed to imply a focus on positive, supportive and decent working conditions that create and sustain a dignified professional environment.
  • Humanity, broadly framed to imply teacher wellbeing, including attention to teacher job satisfaction, sense of efficacy, sense of belonging within the profession which promote a sense of well-being.
  • Equity, broadly framed to imply a focus on ensuring that all learners have equitable access to diverse and high-quality teachers, and teachers promote inclusive teaching and learning experiences.

Key issues discussed included: raising the status of the profession and making teaching an attractive career for young people; improving teacher working conditions; ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce; and guaranteeing human and trade union rights.

Education International (EI) is represented on the panel by Susan Hopgood, President of Education International, Manal Hdaife, school leader in Lebanon and chair of the Education International Arab countries cross-regional structure (ACCRS); and Mike Thiruman, General secretary of the Singapore Teachers Union.

EI called for the Panel to seize the opportunity to make bold Recommendations that will address teachers’ challenges and ensure that the teaching profession is valued and respected.

Susan Hopgood reports on her experience as part of the Panel:

The Panel will meet again on 15 August, when they will discuss three further imperatives for the teaching profession: quality, innovation and leadership, and sustainability. They will then have an in-person meeting in September 2023 in New York, where the Panel Recommendations will be adopted.

The Recommendations will serve as a key input into the preparations for the UN Summit of the Future and will be published on World Teachers Day. The full report on the outcomes of the Panel will be made available in 2024.