Since 1994, World Teachers’ Day has been celebrated on the 5th of October to commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. It is a day to reflect on the support teachers need from governments to fully deploy their talent and vocation, and to reshape the future of the teaching profession. Aligning with the commitments and calls for action made at the recent Transforming Education Summit, this year’s theme is “The transformation of education begins with teachers.”
This year, The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the European Union (EU), and the Palestinian Ministry of Education joined forces with likeminded partners, including ILO and UNRWA, to mark World Teacher’s Day and celebrate the instrumental role that Palestinian teachers play in transforming education.
Ten teachers were honored for implementing exceptional teaching practices in their classrooms. All ten teachers work in schools across the West Bank and Gaza where they face numerous challenges and risks – for many, this includes the risk of violence, or restrictions on their access to school. Enhancing the quality of education in Palestine goes hand in hand with ensuring teachers’ safe access to their workplaces.
During the event, Minister of Education, Dr. Marwan Awartani, stressed the issue of ongoing violations against education, teachers, students, and education personnel, emphasizing how challenging it is for teachers to educate when faced with such risks.
Speaking at the event, Ms. Noha Bawazir, Head of Office and UNESCO Representative to Palestine, said: “Palestinian teachers are often responsible for more than teaching. On many occasions, they must keep themselves and their students safe and protected from violent attacks, detentions, and movement restrictions preventing them from reaching their classes.”
Between 2020 -2021, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) identified at least 85 reported incidents of attacks on school students, teachers, or other education personnel in Palestine.
Education plays an important part in advancing the transformation of human societies; therefore, to shape sustainable futures, education itself must be transformed. If the challenges that teachers face are not addressed, losing them to the profession could be a fatal blow to the realization of Sustainable Development Goal 4.
EU Head of Cooperation, Ibrahim Laafia, stated at the event: “Education is a basic right for every person and every child. The EU strongly believes that education is the cornerstone to building a democratic society that respects the other, and respects diversity and human rights. In Palestine, this basic children’s right is facing tremendous challenges.”
Even though Palestinian teachers face numerous challenges due to the difficult socio-economic and political situation, they still choose to get up every day and contribute to the education of learners in Palestine. This event a reminder of Palestinian teachers’ determination and commitment to create a better future for Palestinians.
As reaffirmed at the Transforming Education Summit, guaranteeing teachers' decent working conditions, access to professional development opportunities and a recognized professional status is the first step towards more resilient education.
Mr. Mounir Kleibo, ILO Representative insisted that “We need a transformed education where there is work life balance and where the wellbeing and mental health of both teachers and learners are priories at the level of the state. Investment in education, decent work and social justice can indeed transform the world – in fact, it all starts there.”
Unless we transform conditions for teachers, the promise of that education will remain out of reach for those who need it most.
Adam Boloukos, Director of UNRWA affairs in the West Bank had this to say: “At UNRWA in the West Bank, we have over 1,500 teachers committing their days to educating the children of Palestine refugees. Who better to represent the teachers of the world on this day than them? They are working with constant security challenges, instability, uncertainty of their environment and with psychosocial challenges that the children have. The teachers here go above and beyond the expectations for a typical teacher.”
Congratulations to all the teachers that were awarded!
Nidaa Abu Khadija – Jerusalem direcorate
Mayssa’ Al-Qassem – Toubas
Kawthar Wahdan – Jericho
Halima Ali Nasser – Ramallah and Al-Bireh
Eyad Ahmad Al-Souki – Jenin
Sa’ida Al-Jayoussi – Toulkarm
Haya Hussein Shalabi – Jenin
Lina Abed Al-Qader – West Gaza
Ranin Nu’man – Salfit
Nisreen Qaza’at – East Gaza