Teachers are essential in preparing future generations: their work in educating future generations contribute directly to the development of their nations and forms children into citizens of the world.
Thanks to several high-profile events, this year’s focus for the World Teacher Day is very much on the supporting role education plays in furthering development. The most important event is clearly the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals a little over a week ago. Goal #4 expresses the need of access to “inclusive and equitable quality education” and the availability of “lifelong learning opportunities for all” directly.
Yet, it can be argued that the actual importance of universal education of good quality is found in most of the other SDGs:
- Education raises each individual’s chances to secure decent work, enabling them to escape poverty (#1) and hunger (#2);
- High-quality education is the foundation for innovation and development (#8), and for the creation of a resilient, sustainable infrastructure (#9);
- Education supports health (#3) both by teaching preventative measures at home (e.g. in the area of sanitation, #6) and by training healthcare professionals;
- Inclusive education can play an integrating role for society, supporting pushes for increased gender equality (#5), reduced inequality in general (#10), and peaceful coexistence (#16).
Multiple high-profile conferences have paved the way for the SDGs: the World Education Forum in Incheon, the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, and the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa have all showcased the important influence of education on development.
This push is urgently needed since we have to do better in funding education around the world. The Brookings Institution points to a “global annual funding gap of US$ 39 billion, a gap between what is available in domestic budgets and what is needed from external sources to support early childhood through lower secondary education for all young people.”
Clearly, this is not just a problem of providing funding, but also a question of making sure the funds are transparently used as intended. Lack of funding and diversion of what little is available disproportionately impacts the availability and quality of education in the poorest and most fragile states. Even in rich, well-developed countries, we find instances of teachers contributing their own funds to help their classes thrive. It is only fitting that we celebrate World Teacher’s Day every year on 5 October, and that we use the day to highlight the need to invest in education and to support the work of educators around the world.
- Paper repository for the Oslo Summit On Education For Development.
- ILO. 2008. The ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) and The UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-education Teaching Personnel (1997) with a user’s guide. Geneva: ILO.
- Steer, Liesbet and Kathryn Smith. 2015. Financing education: Opportunities for global action. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.