World Teachers’ Day calls for the empowerment of teachers to build sustainable societies


El Fasher, Sudan
© UN Photo/Albert González Farran

UNESCO will celebrate World Teachers’ Day (WTD) on October 5 by highlighting the importance of empowering teachers to achieve inclusive and sustainable global development.

This year, the Day comes just after the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations’ General Assembly and represents the first opportunity to set out a roadmap for teachers in the new Education 2030 agenda.

The Day is celebrated at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris with an opening ceremony and address by Qian Tang, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, followed by a panel discussion and roundtables on Education 2030 and the importance of Early Childhood Education (ECE).

Despite global recognition of the importance of teachers in changing children’s lives and building sustainable and prosperous societies, they are all too often undervalued and under-empowered, particularly in the area of ECE.

Worldwide there is a growing shortage of quality teachers and inadequate professional training. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics estimates that to achieve universal primary education by 2020 countries will need to recruit a total of 10.9 million primary teachers.

All these factors result in equity gaps in access and learning which mostly affect the poorest regions and schools and the earliest grades. This is particularly damaging, as there is clear evidence that the earliest years of a child’s development are the most critical.

ECE teaching personnel in much of the world receive minimum or no training, low pay and benefits with poor career prospects, and have low socio‐economic status overall.

This year World Teachers’ Day highlights the need to empower all teachers through the provision of decent, safe and healthy working conditions, trust, professional autonomy and academic freedom.

On the same day, UNESCO, the Education For All Global Monitoring Report, and Education International are launching a sign up campaign for teachers willing to become advocates for education and help lobby for progress towards the new sustainable development agenda. Teachers signing up will receive advocacy toolkits, and country specific information to help them lobby for change in their country.

Taking part in the Paris event will be Permanent Delegations, NGOs in partnership/affiliated to UNESCO, teachers and teacher training institutions and representatives of global/regional networks on ECE.