Quality teachers are key to sustainable global development and their training, recruitment, retention, status and working conditions are among UNESCO’s top priorities.

In fact, teachers are the single most influential and powerful force for equity, access and quality in education.

Worldwide there is a shortage of well trained teachers. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), to achieve universal primary education by 2030, the  demand for teachers is expected to rise to 25.8 million.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development entrusts UNESCO to lead and coordinate Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education through the Education 2030 Framework for Action, which has a target calling for a substantial increase in qualified teachers. 

UNESCO and the International Teacher Task Force - a voluntary global alliance of partners including national governments, IGOs, NGOs, private sector organizations, UN agencies, work together to address the “teacher gap”. They promote the range of issues outlined in the Incheon Declaration, which calls for teachers and educators to be “…empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems”. 

UNESCO also addresses these challenges through the application of the ILO and UNESCO Recommendations on the Teaching Profession.

UNESCO is committed to upholding legal frameworks that protect teachers’ rights. A committee of experts appointed by UNESCO and the International Labour Organization (ILO) meets every three years to monitor the application of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) and the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel (1997).

Every year on 5 October UNESCO celebrates World Teachers’ Day along with its partners ILO, UNDP, UNICEF and Education International.

Every two years UNESCO awards the UNESCO-Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers to three individuals whose projects aim at improving worldwide the performance and effectiveness of teachers. The award consists of a $300,000 prize equally divided between the three winners.