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World Teachers' Day

By Michael Evans - 07 Oct 2012 9:34:10 GMT
World Teachers' Day

World Teachers Day Image; Credit: © Shutterstock

World Teachers' Day was created by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in 1994 and is held annually on 5thOctober. The aim of the day is to celebrate and mobilise support for teachers worldwide and to ensure that teachers will continue to meet the needs of future generations.

UNESCO, together with its partners the International Labour Organisation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Education International (EI), chose as its the slogan for 2012 World Teachers' Day, "Take a Stand for Teachers".

Standing up for the teaching profession means to provide adequate training, ongoing professional development and protection for the rights of teachers.

High quality education is fundamental to the hope and promise of a better standard of living, particularly for people in the developing world, but this is not achievable without a strong force of competent and motivated teachers.

There are a number of factors that keep children in school and influence their learning and one of the most important of these is high quality teaching. A good teacher can help students to think critically and to process information from a number of sources. Teachers can guide students into ways of co-operative learning, showing them how problems can be tackled and how informed choices can be made.

Unfortunately, in spite of the important influence that teachers have on the learning of young people, in many parts of the world the teaching profession is losing status. World Teachers' Day sets out to draw attention to the need to raise the status of the teaching profession by acknowledging the crucial role played by teachers in building the future.  This is seen as being not just for the benefit of teachers and students, but for society as a whole.

One of the UN's Millennium Goals was to achieve Universal Primary Education by 2015. It is estimated that in order achieve this target an additional 1.7 million new teaching posts will be required. However since by then around 5.1 million teachers will have retired or otherwise have left the profession, this means that around 6.8 million additional teachers will be needed in order to meet the UN target.

The countries of sub-Sahara Africa alone will need to recruit an additional 1.8 million teachers.

The leaders of the five partner organisations issued a joint statement to mark World Teachers' Day 2012. The statement stresses that good schools are the pillars of healthy and democratic communities and that teachers are the foundation of these good schools. Teachers are key to reaching all educational goals.

It is vital that as new teachers are recruited, great efforts are made to improve the quality of teaching and learning. The statement urged governments to to provide teachers with access to training opportunities and continued professional development that is based on appropriate qualifications.

It is important to attract committed teachers from diverse backgrounds and this requires environments that value professional autonomy and equality. Teachers need to be supported in the fulfilment of their responsibilities to students and this means that school leaders, education systems and public authorities must value what they have to say.

Salaries for teachers should be set at objective and fair levels that reflect their qualifications and responsibilities, together with the important place of the profession within the community.

At the same time teachers should be accountable to both their students and their communities. Teachers should be encouraged to design and implement codes of conduct that are based on the highest ethical and professional standards. The goal must be for students worldwide to enjoy a quality of teaching that is effective and equal for all.

The statement concludes with the message that World Teachers' Day provides the opportunity to honour the men and women who inspire, challenge and nurture us. It is a day to call for the creation of supportive teaching environments, adequate teacher training and safeguards for the rights of teachers.

If we are to achieve the goal of quality learning for all, it is important to break the vicious cycle of declining professional conditions for teachers. Society expects a great deal from teachers and it is right that teachers should expect a great deal from society.

World Teachers' Day is an opportunity to take a stand for all teachers.

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