Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO study shows Africa and Arab States are worst hit by teacher shortage

One point six million additional teachers will be required to achieve universal primary education by 2015, and this number will rise to 3.3 million by 2030, according to a report published by UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (UIS) on the occasion of World Teachers Day, celebrated on 5 October.

The report also shows that a total 3.5 million new lower secondary education positions will have to be established by 2015 and 5.1 million will be required by 2030. This is the first time that UIS projections extend to 2030 and include data on lower secondary education.

About 58% of countries currently do not have enough teachers in classrooms to achieve universal primary education. While the problem concerns all regions of the world, the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly bad. Close to one third of the countries suffering from teacher shortages are situated in that region and the need to recruit more teachers will intensify due to the growth in the number of school-age children on the continent. By 2030, 2.1 million teaching positions will have to be created in Sub-Saharan Africa over and above the 2.6 million teachers leaving the profession who will need to be replaced.

The Arab States are also concerned by teacher shortages. By 2030, the region will face an explosion in its school-age population with 9.5 million additional students. Many countries in the region have increased recruitment over the last decade so as to meet this challenge and the situation should be stabilized by 2020. To achieve universal primary education, the region needs to create an additional 500,000 posts by 2030 and replace 1.4 million teachers who will have left the profession.

But great disparities also exist within regions. Ethiopia looks set to have enough teachers to meet the requirements of primary school-age children by 2015, if current trends continue. This is also the case for Cameroon, Namibia and Lesotho. In the Arab region, Mauritania and Yemen also look set to fill in the gap by 2015.

The situation is, however, getting worse in Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Malawi and Nigeria where, unless there is an improvement, the primary school teacher shortage will be worse in 2030 than today because of the growing student population

Meanwhile, the number students enrolled in lower secondary education continues to grow worldwide. In 2011, enrolment in this category reached 82%, up 10% compared to 1999. But secondary education requires a greater number of teachers than does primary education because of the need for more subject-specific teachers and longer instruction time.

Sub-Saharan Africa alone represents close to half the global lower secondary education shortage (46%). In fact, 1.6 million teachers will be needed there by 2015, and 2.5 by 2030.

Based on present trends, Sao Tome and Principe is the only country in the region that looks set to have enough lower secondary education teachers by 2015. Countries like Chad, Zambia and Ghana, on the other hand, look set to suffer from teacher shortages beyond 2030.

To face this challenge, many countries increased recruitment to lower secondary education over the past decade. This policy should bear fruit and, if present trends are maintained, 42% of 148 the countries facing shortages should overcome this problem by 2015 and 80% of countries currently facing shortages will have filled the gap by 2030.

The need to overcome teacher shortages will be the focus of World Teachers’ Day, to be celebrated at UNESCO Headquarters on 4 October. “A call for teachers” has therefore been chosen as the slogan for the Day.

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Media contacts: Amy Otchet, Institut de statistique de l’UNESCO à Montréal, tel : +1 514 343 79 33, a.otchet(at)

Agnès Bardon, Service de presse de l’UNESCO, tel : +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 64, a.bardon(at)