“Teachers have the future of this generation in their hands,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “We need 5.2 million teachers to be recruited by 2015, and we need to work harder to support them in providing children with their right to a universal, free and quality education."
Released this week, the United Nations' annual Education For All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) revealed that 57 million children around the world are currently not in school, while 250 million do not have the skills necessary to read, write, or perform basic mathematics—including 130 million children who are enrolled in school. According to the report, these statistics come at global cost of an estimated $129 billion.
The GMR, issued annually, assesses the progress made globally toward the six Education For All goals established in 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal. Of the broadest goal of ensuring all children have access to and complete a "free and compulsary primary education of good quality" by 2015, the latest report states it is "likely to be missed by a wide margin." While access to education is a crucial step—particularly in regions like sub-Saharan Africa where 22% of children are not in primary school—ensuring quality is equally important to achieving this goal. A focus on teacher recruitment and training, the report asserts, is the key to increasing quality.
"To achieve good quality education for all, governments must provide enough trained teachers, and focus their teacher policies on meeting the needs of the disadvantaged," states the press release accompanying the report. Pauline Rose, the director of the EFA Global Monitoring Report, elaborates: "What’s the point in an education if children emerge after years in school without the skills they need? The huge numbers of illiterate children and young people mean it is crucial that equality in access and learning be placed at the heart of future education goals. New goals after 2015 must make sure every child is not only in school, but learning what they need to learn.”
Looking ahead to 2015, the report makes the following recommendations;
1. New education goals after 2015 must include an explicit commitment to equity so that every child has an equal chance of an education. New goals need clear, measurable targets with indicators that will track the progress of the most disadvantaged.
2. New goals after 2015 must ensure that every child is in school and learning the basics. Children do not only have the right to be in school, but also to learn while there, and to emerge with the skills they need to find secure, well-paid work.
3. Ensure the best teachers reach the learners who need them most. National education plans must include an explicit commitment to reaching the marginalized. Teachers should be recruited locally, or have similar backgrounds to disadvantaged learners. Every teacher needs pre- and in-service training on ways to target support to disadvantaged children. Incentives must be provided to ensure the best teachers work in remote, under-served areas. Governments must work to retain their best teachers, providing pay that meets at least their basic needs, good working conditions and a career path.
Read the full report.
Teach For All's Director, Regional Growth, Strategy, and Developement - Africa, Samantha Williams, attended the launch of the latest report in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 29. Read her reflections.