Teachers play the crucial role to ensure universal and quality education for all. Actually, an education system is only as good as its teachers. They are central to shaping the minds and attitudes of the future generations to deal with new challenges and opportunities. Thus, innovative, inclusive and results-focused teaching is crucial for providing the best possible opportunities for millions of children, youth and adults worldwide. However, in many parts of the world, the quality of education is undermined by a severe deficit of teachers. The shortage of qualified as well as trained teachers is hampering classroom teaching-learning activities in many countries to achieve good quality education for all. Furthermore, there is also a qualitative challenge: teachers are often lacking good resources, such as teaching-learning materials and textbooks, or proper training. The quality of teaching is essential to achieve good learning outcomes. This implies an education system that attracts and retains a qualified teaching staff and that supports teachers in the classroom, as well as in their continued professional development.
The UNESCO publication “The Right to Education and the Teaching Profession” presents thematic mappings on the implementation of the right to education based on the ‘Eighth Consultation’ of Member States. By highlighting concrete examples from Member States, it also offers a basis for regional and international co-operation and shares promising practices from which other countries can learn. This well-documented report is divided into two parts. The first part provides a thematic analysis of measures and promising practices that have been reported on by Member States to support the rights, status and working conditions of the teaching profession.
It is commonly assumed that, in order to ensure a good quality teaching and learning, teachers should be well supported, motivated and trained. The high number of countries presenting concrete measures adopted in this regard is a strong indication that improving the conditions of teachers has become a growing area of attention and action by Member States. It also emerges that, while they may be confronted to specific and various challenges, countries have adopted quite similar approaches. Many countries have reported efforts to strengthen policy frameworks and innovative programmes to enhance the status of the teaching profession, including better salaries, incentives and sustained career support. More attention has also been paid to the working conditions of teachers and to the environment in which they are conducting teaching-learning.
Another fundamental aspect of teachers’ status is the quality of their education. In that regard, extensive efforts have been undertaken by countries to generalize and improve teacher qualifications and professional development. Making teacher training more practice oriented and relevant to classroom contexts is an emerging trend in teacher education policy in many countries. Countries have given attention to the role of mentors to support the induction phase of new teachers. It is expected that they benefit from the experience and guidance of qualified teachers and workers. Last but not least, a number of countries provide interesting examples of improved monitoring mechanisms and good practices involving the teaching profession.
The second part of the report compiles references to measures adopted to support the teaching profession in national reports submitted for the 8th Consultation of Member States. The factsheets available in this part start by providing information on countries’ status of ratification of the 1960 UNESCO’s Convention against Discrimination in Education. The 1960 UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education is the first legally binding instrument covering extensively the right to education. It aims at eliminating discrimination in education and promotes the principles of equality of opportunities and treatment.
With regards to the teachers, Article 4(d) of the Convention engages State Parties to provide training to the teaching profession without discrimination. The “constitutional provisions, legislative provisions, measures” sections are composed of extracts from 46 country reports. The factsheets contained herein highlight progress and challenges in legal and policy frameworks and measures addressing the rights, status and working conditions of the teaching profession. Many States have reinforced their policy frameworks and have adopted concrete measures to further support the teaching profession, including better status, working environment, education and training, and monitoring mechanisms. These positive measures can have a significant impact on teachers’ ability to deliver good quality education.
The writer is an independent researcher. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org