World Teachers’ Day 2023: Growing teacher shortage puts the right to education at risk

published 4 October 2023 updated 17 October 2023

World Teachers’ Day is celebrated on October 5th every year. This year’s event is marked by increased global concern about the scale and impact of the teacher shortage around the world. According to UNESCO, the world needs 69 million more teachers by 2030 to achieve universal basic education yet current trends see this deficit increasing, with many teachers leaving the profession. New research from Education International and partners points to the main factors driving this exodus and the solutions to turn the tide.

Overworked, undervalued, and underpaid

Convened by Education International, UNESCO, the International Labour Organization, and UNICEF, the 2023 edition of World Teachers’ Day highlights the global teacher shortage under the theme “The teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage”.

“Today, teachers are overworked, undervalued, and underpaid, and more and more are forced to leave the profession they love and the world needs. At the same time, fewer young people aspire to be teachers. It’s easy to see why. Working conditions have deteriorated, pay has not kept up with inflation, workloads have skyrocketed, and professional autonomy has been steadily replaced with never-ending controls and bureaucracy. Urgent action is imperative because the right to quality education is at stake,” explained David Edwards, Education International General Secretary.

EI’s General Secretary will speak at the opening ceremony of World Teachers’ Day celebrations hosted by UNESCO in Paris on October 5th, from 14:30 CEST. Click here to register for the event and tune in online.

The upcoming 2023 International Barometer of Education Staff sheds further light on the conditions driving teachers out of the profession. Based on a survey of over 26,000 educators including teachers, school principals, and support staff from 11 countries across 4 continents, the Barometer findings reveal a concerning rise of workplace violence, coupled with insufficient psychological and medical support for educators, and significant issues related to work-life balance. A vast majority of educators surveyed reported that they didn’t feel their profession was valued by society at large. Despite these challenges, the majority of teachers would choose teaching again as a profession. The 2023 edition of the International Barometer of Education Staff will be released on October 10. Click here to register for the online launch event and tune in on October 10, from 14:00 CEST.

Teachers call on governments to Go Public! Fund Education

Teachers everywhere are mobilising for change through Education International and its Go Public! Fund Education global campaign. The campaign emphasises the urgent need for governments to fully fund public education systems and invest in the teaching profession to end the teacher shortage and guarantee every student’s right to have a well-supported qualified teacher and a quality learning environment.

The call has been echoed at the highest international level. In 2022, in the context of the Transforming Education Summit, the United Nations General Secretary drew the world’s attention to the teacher shortage and the critical danger it poses. The United Nations High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession was created to address this crisis and to put forward clear recommendations for governments to implement.

“To reverse the global teacher shortage, decisive political action is needed: it is imperative to fund public education, invest in teachers, guarantee their labour rights, and ensure they have good working conditions. Investing in education is not only about funding; it is about respecting, valuing pedagogical expertise, and involving teachers in decision-making processes,” stressed Susan Hopgood, Education International President and member of the United Nations High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession.

The High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession has drafted over 50 recommendations that governments must implement in order to reverse the teacher shortage and ensure the right to quality education for all.