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7 Oct, 2011

5 October World Teachers’ Day – Seeking At Least Two Million Teachers

Paris, 04 October – Ahead of World Teachers’ Day, 5 October – dedicated this year to the theme of “teachers for gender equality” – UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics has published data demonstrating that at least two additional million teachers will be needed to meet the internationally agreed goal of universal primary education by 2015.

Shortages do not only concern developing countries. Although Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounts for more than half the demand, the United States, Spain, Ireland, Italy and Sweden are among the 112 countries suffering from the same problem.

Insufficient staffing to ensure universal primary education by 2015 affects the different regions as follows: Sub-Saharan Africa (1,115,000 teachers required), Arab States (-243,000 teachers), South and West Asia (-292,000), North America and Western Europe (-155,000). Central and Eastern Europe, Central and East Asia, Latin American and the Caribbean on the other hand together account for only 11 % of the global shortage of teachers required to meet the 2015 target for achieving universal primary education.

These figures, however, do not take into account the number of teachers leaving the profession for a variety of reasons such as retirement, illness, or career change. To meet the total shortage, 6.1 million teachers will be needed between 2009 and 2015.

“Teachers for gender equality” is the theme of World Teachers’ Day 2011, which celebrates a profession in which women outnumber men in primary schools, accounting for 62 % of teachers worldwide. In some countries they account for 90 % of primary school teachers1. But their working conditions, pay, and status are deteriorating.

“If we want to give equal opportunities to our daughters and sons to realize their full potential and claim their rights, we must devise policies and strategies that attract and motivate capable women and men to teach, while also enabling them to create gender-equal learning environments,” states a message co-signed by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, and the heads of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Labour Organization (ILO), and Education International (EI), the international federation of education trade unions.

Events organized at UNESCO during the Day will feature testimonies by teaching professionals about “Gender at school: an essential question of education,” and an open forum on gender issues in the teaching force (9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Room II).

On this occasion, the results of the Policy Forum on Gender Equality : Looking beyond Parity in Education », held at UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) on 3 and 4 October, will be presented. The high level forum was to focus on gender inequality in classroom achievement and on women’s leadership role in education.

The Day will also be the occasion to present a new publication, Women and the Teaching Profession: Exploring the “Feminization” Debate in Selected Commonwealth Countries. The publication features case studies on the role of teachers in the expansion of the educational systems of countries such as Dominica, India, Lesotho, Samoa or Sri Lanka.

Celebrated since 1994, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the 1966 signing of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers with its guidelines concerning educational policies, curricula, training, employment, work conditions and teachers participation in decision-making.