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Teachers at the heart of education recovery

(A joint message from UNESCO, ILO, UNICEF and Education International on the occasion of World Teacher’s Day 2021)

Nearly  two  years  since  the  outbreak  of  the  COVID-19  pandemic,  many  education  systems  are  still  facing  significant  disruptions.  Students and teachers in close to 60 countries remain affected by full or partial school closures. But whether students are learning in person or remotely, teachers are at the heart of the process.

The pandemic has shone a light on the irreplaceable value of the teaching profession in society but also on the difficult working conditions they face. Teachers have been  on  the  frontlines  to  ensure  learning  continuity  when  schools  were  closed  and  to  provide socio-emotional support to their students, especially the most vulnerable ones. They have had to rapidly adapt to remote learning and manage new digital tools, often without training.  Today,  they  must  assess  and  address  learning  losses  among  their  students, cope with issues of health and safety in the classroom, and leverage remote, hybrid and in-person methods to minimize disruption.

Today we celebrate the exceptional dedication and courage of all teachers, as well as their capacity to adapt and innovate under very challenging and uncertain conditions. They are at the heart of global education recovery efforts and are key in accelerating progress towards inclusive, equitable and quality education for every learner, in every circumstance.

Now is the time to recognize the exceptional role teachers play and to empower them with the training, professional development, support and working conditions they need to deploy their talent.  This is a time of challenge but also an opportunity for rapid transformation to address the unfulfilled needs which have been multiplied by the pandemic.  Sub-Saharan Africa alone requires 15 million more teachers to reach the education goals by 2030. Surmounting these challenges requires bold commitment, investment and innovation on a scale like never before.

A  successful  education  recovery  starts  with  ensuring  teachers’  well-being,  adequate  remuneration and safety, including their prioritization for vaccination together with other key workers. A  successful  education  recovery  calls  for  investment  in  more  teachers  and  in  training  and professional development opportunities, so that educators may enrich their practice and gain the skills to integrate and use educational technologies effectively to support learning and adapt to a diversity of learners’ needs.

Education recovery will be successful if it is conducted hand in hand with teachers – giving them voice and space to participate in decision-making and respecting their pedagogical knowledge and expertise as we reimagine the way out of the crisis and build more resilient education systems.

On World Teachers’ Day, we are not only celebrating every teacher. We are calling on countries to invest in them and prioritize them in global education recovery efforts so that every learner has access to a qualified and supported teacher. 

Let’s stand with our teachers!*

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