World Teacher’s Day 2023: Let’s build and sustain a cadre of skilled teachers as a continental imperative

Today is World Teacher’s Day. On this day, ADEA commemorates and recognizes the efforts, sacrifices and commitments of those who are central in molding Africa’s future: teachers. 

This annual international event was established in 1994, following the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO recommendation which set the benchmark for teachers' rights and conditions worldwide. The resonance of World Teachers’ Day 2023 amplifies the strides we have made, as a continent, since that significant year. Hence, this year is an occasion to re-evaluate and rejuvenate our commitment to education through teacher development.

In 2023, the World Teachers' Day celebrations focuses on the theme; "The teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage". This theme could not be more instructive for Africa given the levels of teacher shortages on the continent. The 2022 Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM-R)/ADEA’s Spotlight report on foundational learning says that countries in sub-Saharan Africa must recruit 2.3m teachers, and replace a further 3.8m teachers, if they must achieve the objectives of SDG4 and CESA 16-25 by 2030. Yet UNESCO argues that Africa needs 15m teachers across all learning levels to achieve SDG4 and CESA 16-25 targets. Instructively, Africa’s teacher to pupil ratio at primary and secondary levels ranks the lowest globally at 1:58 and 1:43, respectively (UNESCO, 2018).

In addition to managing large classrooms, teacher experiences across Africa should be able to encourage our best minds to join the teaching work force. This calls for increasing the provision of appropriate learning aids to support their work. Greater spotlight is also needed on teacher welfare, apart from improving their earnings. Nearly two years of COVID-19 pandemic also impacted the capacity and motivation of teachers to ensure learning delivery and continuity. Those deployed to rural and hard to reach locations are, in some instances, not additionally incentivized for the extra sacrifice to deliver learning in such environments. Equally, in many countries, teacher continuing professional development (CPD) is not structured to address emergent teaching methods. The result is that many of the children in Africa learn poorly, learning poverty deepens and Africa’s future is left in frenzied jeopardy. These must change now!

Teachers in Africa deserve to be treated better and rewarded commensurate to the efforts they put in but also to the scale of the responsibility they bear. They are the architects of tomorrow and a poorly designed future can be catastrophic. Additionally, a growing African school age population will continue to demand more qualified teachers at all education levels. ADEA calls on African governments and education stakeholders in Africa to support adequate resourcing of the teaching capacity.

Happily, the status of teachers will feature copiously, in ADEA’s upcoming High-Level Policy Dialogue Forum on Foundational Learning where we will discuss policy-level experiences aimed at improving teaching for foundational learning, extract long- and short-term policy lessons about teacher recruitment, deployment, and retention and explore the subjects of curriculum, pedagogical practices in teaching and assessment as well as teacher continuing professional development. Our Africa Learning Together podcast series have also interrogated the concept of teacher support with key topics that explored the value of retired teachers, as well as the creation of a social space – Teacher’s Lounge.

Africa will be home to a billion children and adolescents under 18 years by 2050. Therefore, it must be considered a continental imperative to build and sustain the supply of a cadre of skilled persons to groom these population into economic and development movers and shapers for Africa. ADEA supports such a cause and will continue to put itself at the disposal of member countries, as we work together, with other partners, to address challenges in teacher shortages and in education in general.

Therefore, ADEA calls on member countries and stakeholders to:

  1. Prioritize the welfare and conditions of service of teachers at all levels and identify and reward dedicated and innovative teachers, especially those working in challenging conditions.
  2. Improve support to teachers by providing teaching aid and enhancing working conditions.
  3. Prioritize teacher capacity building and continuing professional development (CPD).
  4. Incorporate the efforts and experience of retired teachers, especially in supervision and CPD, while also leveraging the capacity of volunteer teachers.
  5. Collect and leverage quality data to inform teacher decisions e.g., deployment, retention, and training.
  6. Participate in the upcoming HLPDF to leverage lessons and insights from models on teacher recruitment, deployment and retention that have worked.


Happy 2023 World Teachers Day!