World Teachers’ Day

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Teachers play an important part in everyone’s lives. While teachers provide the education and support needed for life, they also perform a vital role in cultivating civic values. As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously disrupted the education around the world. It has transformed how lessons are delivered, and undermined the support teachers need to carry out their duties. It also exacerbated pre-existing managerial gaps and other organizational issues that particularly afflict low and middle income countries.

According to the UNESCO World Teachers’ Day 2021 factsheet, developing countries, especially sub-Saharan African countries, are experiencing shortages of primary and secondary teachers. The decreasing proportion of qualified teachers is also alarming. Pupil/trained teacher ratios in primary education in such countries as Madagascar (240:1), Sao Tome and Principe (114:1), and Guinea (63:1) [1;p.5] have ballooned. Further research is needed to evaluate how such a shortage is impairing the sustainable development and how the dearth of qualified personnel in the region can be alleviated. Needless to say, the weakening of the teaching profession has emerged as a major obstacle on the road to the inclusive, equitable education envisaged by the Sustainable Development Goal #4.

As simple as the problem may appear, the underlying causes of underperforming education systems are complex and entrenched.  The teaching profession often suffers from relatively reduced social status and uneven, highly politicized state support. Although there is no single panacea for a problem that afflicts such a broad swathe of the world, the improvement of this situation in large part depends on local initiatives to improve the teacher’s position in the community, promoting the prestige of the profession through better salaries, superior working conditions, and expanding access to training opportunities.

As an event recognizing teachers’ contributions globally and their influence on global development, UNESCO celebrates World Teachers’ Day under the title of “Teachers at the heart of education recovery” [2]. This is especially important because of the surging demand for teachers in the pandemic recovery.  If supply is constrained by inadequate policy and prejudice, the recovery could be choked off. That is why we need to pay attention to the role of teachers in society today and to publicly underscore the role they play in investing skills and knowledge in younger generations on whom the future depends.


[1] International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030, UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2021). World Teachers’ Day 2021 fact sheet.

[2] Celebrations of World Teachers’ Day 2021 by UNESCO