General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Joint Message on the Occasion of World Teachers’ Day


Each year on 5 October we celebrate teachers for their invaluable contribution in shaping

effective education systems and preparing children, young people and adults for active and

responsible participation in society.

Education is a human right and central to sustainable development. It is both vital to increase

access and to enhance inclusion and quality at all levels of education and in all settings.

Among the many factors which affect the quality of education, teachers play a pivotal role in

ensuring good learning outcomes. It is commonly acknowledged that the quality of learning

depends, first and foremost, on the quality of teachers. It was on this day in 1966 that

standards were adopted by the international community to promote quality teachers and


There is an acute shortage of qualified and trained teachers, especially in the developing

world where enrolments at all levels are increasing. It is estimated that 2.4 million teachers

(1.2 million new teacher posts) will be needed between 2007 and 2015 in sub-Saharan Africa

alone to achieve Universal Primary Education. Lack of training, professional development and

growing recruitment on a contract basis weaken education quality. But the profession is also

gravely affected by poverty, the HIV and AIDS pandemic, natural disasters, conflict and

violence against teachers in school.

We face an urgent need to bridge this global “teacher gap.” It requires policies that take an

integrated approach combining large-scale recruitment with appropriate pre-service and inservice

training, strong leadership, satisfactory working conditions, and relevant teachinglearning

tools and materials.

High expectations and demands are placed on teachers today with the emergence of

knowledge societies and the growing integration of information and communication

technologies in education. The 21st century calls for new approaches to learning, innovative

thinking, the acquisition of specific knowledge about the environment, health and citizenship,

and the promotion of ethical values and attitudes. The ability of education systems to respond

effectively to the needs of today’s learners depends largely on the action that is taken now to

recruit, train and support teachers and to ensure decent work for them.

The current global financial and economic crisis is placing increasing strain on education

budgets around the world. It is critical to seek mechanisms that protect teachers and ensure

that education investments match demand. One challenge is to find ways to make the

teaching profession attractive in order to draw an adequate number of well-qualified and

motivated candidates. Another is to make sure those already there stay on. Achieving these

goals depends on the status, salary, career development opportunities available for teachers

and public respect for them. It also depends on the autonomy they have to develop their own

creative learning experiences. The voices of teachers and their representative organizations

matter and must be heard.

We commit to expanding the focus of World Teachers’ Day to include higher education, and

to take into consideration the 1997

Recommendation Concerning the Status of HigherIn particular, we need to address issues related to the respect

Education Teaching Personnel.

for academic freedom and collegial governance, which have suffered greatly in recent times.

We call upon governments, communities, national and international institutions everywhere to

act decisively to achieve Education for All. We commit to do our part and to extend all

possible support to the new international task force on “Teachers for EFA.”

The teaching force with its knowledge, experience and foresight can, in these times of crisis,

bring new insights and solutions for a sustainable future. In celebrating World Teachers’ Day

2009, we, the signatories, therefore call upon all to join us with renewed energy and

conviction - to invest in teachers now!

Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General, UNESCO

Juan Somavia, Director-General,ILO

Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP

Ann M Veneman, Excecutive Director, UNICEF

Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary, Education International


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