Education International chief: quality education needs investment in teachers

Teachers and learning


By Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary of Education International

For 20 years now, October 5 has been a day to celebrate teachers around the world and the work they do. But for Education International and our more than 30 million educators this year's World Teachers' Day is a day to look forward, to focus the congratulations and good wishes on the role that education plays in our increasingly troubled world.

In September, global education advocates were at the United Nations’ General Assembly, pressing the case to make quality education a standalone development goal in the community of nations. We have been successful so far in raising quality education for all as a standard in the world’s effort to meet the crisis of 58 million children who remain outside of schools.

Study after study shows that education is like a stone in the pond. It disrupts the status quo. It propels people, communities and nations in radical new directions. When parents have more education, they have healthier children. Families are better able to cope with fluctuations of income; the wage gap between women and men begins to close.

UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report found that education “enables people to escape from the trap of chronic poverty and prevent the transmission of poverty between generations.”

That is the reason we were meeting in New York with international delegations, heads of state and colleagues at the United Nations itself. We were seizing a critical moment to try to build a sustainable future.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued our charge directly when he said: “Education must fully assume its central role in helping people to forge more just, peaceful and tolerant societies.”

He said every child must be in school, the quality of those schools must improve and the product of those schools must be prepared as productive citizens, ready to lead the future.

Today, in a third of countries analysed by the GMR, less than three-fourths of existing primary school teachers are trained to national standards. Moreover, education systems are failing significant minorities even in high-income countries.

The key reasons are in the report itself; governments globally are not meeting their funding commitments to education or teacher training and support, and where they do make investments, these benefit the privileged at the expense of the most marginalised, effectively widening inequalities.

And the facts are that sustainable quality education for all will not be achieved without appropriate investments in educators through training, continuous professional development, decent working conditions and salaries, matched by the appropriate tools and environments needed to facilitate teaching and learning.

If we are to truly affect the future, we must reverse the negative cycles of cause and effect. We have more than hopes and dreams for the future. We know what the effects of our success can be. We have evidence. Together, we can make quality education for all a reality.

I call on all educators around the world to stand #UpForSchool and so should you.

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