It is widely known that access to, equity in, and the quality of education greatly depend on teachers’ adequate skills and competencies. In a number of countries, there is still an acute shortage of qualified teachers. Additionally, many teachers suffer from poor wages and working conditions, and perform their jobs in deprived or dangerous environments. In many countries, the recruitment of qualified teachers is a pressing challenge because teaching is perceived to be a low-status profession.
Monitoring of international normative instruments regarding the teaching profession
UNESCO addresses these challenges through the application and monitoring of international normative instruments: the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) and the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel (1997). A committee of experts appointed jointly by UNESCO and the International Labour Organization (ILO) meets every three years to monitor the application of the two instruments.
Supporting Member States in the development and review of teacher policies and strategies
UNESCO works with Member States to help strengthen national capacities for the assessment of teaching needs and development of evidence-based policies in relation to teacher recruitment, training, deployment and management, professional development and formative assessment. Policy advice, technical assistance, development of tools, guidelines and opportunities for knowledge exchange are used to support the development and review of national and regional teacher policies and strategies. To this end, the Teacher Policy Development Guide was developed by the International Task Force on Teachers in close coordination with UNESCO entities and external partners with the aim to helping countries develop an evidence-based national teacher policy.
Developing capacities for enhancing the quality of teaching and learning
UNESCO works with Member States and international partners to implement dedicated programmes supporting the capacity development of existing teacher education and training institutions, drawing on the use of technology-supported solutions such as open and distance learning. These projects include:
- “Enhancing Teacher Education for Bridging the Education Quality Gap in Africa” supported by the Chinese Funds-in-Trust;
- “Capacity Building of Teacher Trainers and Teachers in Support of Curriculum” with the support of the Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance of the United Arab Emirates;
- “Improving Teacher Support and Participation in Local Education Groups,” a project supported by the Global Partnership for Education and implemented jointly by UNESCO and Education International.
UNESCO, Members States and international partners gather annually at the international Policy Dialogue Forum, hosted by the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030, to review progress made and exchange good practices in capacity development.
Undertaking advocacy and knowledge sharing for the promotion of quality teaching and learning
UNESCO advocates for the teaching profession worldwide and disseminates the results of research studies on innovative practices, trends, and the challenges ahead, in order to maximize use and impact of data and evidence on national policy debates on teachers and teaching policies. This is done through a variety of means such as national and regional fora, as well as at knowledge exchange activities at country level.
UNESCO also recognizes teachers and the teaching profession through two major events: World Teachers’ Day celebrated annually on 5 October (in partnership with ILO, UNDP, UNICEF and Education International) and the awarding every two years of the UNESCO-Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers.