ADEA Executive Secretary’s Message on World Teachers Day 2015

In 1994, UNESCO proclaimed 5 October World Teachers’ Day, in celebration of the great step made for teachers in 1966 when a special intergovernmental conference convened by UNESCO in Paris in cooperation with the ILO adopted the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This recommendation sets forth the rights and responsibilities of teachers, and international standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, teaching and learning conditions. It also contains many recommendations for teachers’ participation in educational decisions through consultation and negotiation with educational authorities. Since its adoption, the Recommendation has been considered an important set of guidelines to promote teachers’ status in the interest of quality education.

The Association for Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) joins all Education practitioners to celebrate World Teachers Day 2015 whose theme is “Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies”.

World Teachers’ Day held annually on 5 October is a UNESCO initiative, a day devoted to appreciating, assessing, and improving the educators of the world. The real point is to provide a time to look at and address issues pertaining to teachers. It is important to note that in some parts of the world, teachers are not given the respect that they deserve.

According to UNESCO institute of Statistics, Universal primary education (UPE) will remain a distant dream for millions of children living in countries without enough teachers in classrooms. Current discussions of the post-2015 development agenda include a target to bolster the supply and training of teachers as part of efforts to ensure that every child learns in a stimulating and supportive classroom environment. The region facing the greatest challenges by a large margin is sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for more than one-half (63%) of the additional teachers needed to achieve UPE by 2015 or two-thirds (67%) by 2030. Across the region, more than 7 in 10 countries are faced with an acute shortage of teachers. And the situation in many countries may deteriorate as governments struggle with overcrowded classrooms and the rising demand for education from growing school-age populations: for every 100 children in 2012, there will be 147 primary school-age children in 2030. Sub-Saharan Africa alone will need to create 2.3 million new teaching positions by 2030, while filling about 3.9 million vacant positions due to attrition.

In the rush to fill this gap, many countries are lowering standards, often leaving new teachers with little or no training. Without concerted efforts, these chronic shortages of teachers will continue to deny the fundamental right to primary education for millions of children for decades to come. The new global education goal, Sustainable Development Goal 4, which is at the heart of the Education 2030 Agenda, calls for inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all. This agenda can only be realized if society/governments and donors invest in recruiting, training, supporting, and empowering teachers. We are all aware that this goal is critical to achieving all the other Sustainable goals as well.

ADEA through the Working Group on the Teaching Profession is working with partners to ensure improvement of the quality of basic education in Africa by working with African ministries of education, teachers and education personnel, teachers' professional organizations, teacher training and research institutions, NGOs, and the private sector to create an enabling teacher education management and support system and an improved teaching and learning environment for all teachers and pupils. This environment can be achieved through supporting the professional development of the teaching force, reinforcing teacher support delivery mechanisms, and encouraging the development of new policies, strategies, and practices aimed at improving the conditions under which teachers serve. Everyone can help by celebrating the teaching profession, by generating awareness about teacher issues, by ensuring that teacher respect is part of the natural order of things.

I therefore take this opportunity to congratulate all the teachers in Africa who have persevered despite the challenges and also urge everybody to use this day to discuss, compare, learn, argue, share and improve this noble profession.

- Ms. Oley Dibba-Wadda, ADEA Executive Secretary