When will the fundamental role of teachers be recognised?

Disillusioned teachers, lack of vocations, insufficient salaries, poor training and low social recognition. Almost everywhere, the vocation of "teacher" is no longer attractive. On the occasion of World Teachers' Day (5 October), Action Education calls on governments to recognise the fundamental role of teachers and to grant them salaries and working conditions commensurate with their mission and commitment.

Many countries, from the most developed to the least developed, now claim to offer their children a quality education. And yet few of them give recognition and resources to the linchpins on which this edifice rests. Namely, the teachers.

Difficult conditions that discourage

In the least developed countries, teachers are faced with overcrowded classrooms, without teaching materials, and take charge of students with very heterogeneous levels and who do not necessarily master the language of instruction, for a pittance. Some have initial training, others do not. A World Bank study of seven African countries showed that nearly a quarter of primary school teachers were unable to perform simple subtraction and that a third of them could not do two-digit multiplication. According to the same study, less than 10 % of primary teachers have acquired good teaching practices. These deleterious teaching conditions have an impact on children's learning, especially for the most vulnerable populations, and considerably increase the risk of dropping out of school. Teachers in the most developed countries are certainly better off, but the conditions (training, recognition, salaries, etc.) are still far from adequate to provide quality education.

Emergency responses that reveal a lack of understanding of the teaching profession

The shortage of teachers, common to all of Europe and the United States, is now pushing the various ministries of education, including the Ministry of Education in France, to authorise the hasty recruitment of teachers with little or no training. This decision has serious consequences for entire generations. Recruiting teachers on the speed dating model while offering them four days of training before they start their first school year reveals a misunderstanding of the fundamental role of a teacher. The teacher is not just a book or a computer, he or she does not just transmit factual knowledge but accompanies the child in the construction of his or her know-how and interpersonal skills, draws his or her personality and lays the foundations for his or her future. It is thanks to him that the pupil opens up to the world, develops his curiosity and his critical spirit. A teacher's mission is therefore extremely ambitious and, above all, fraught with responsibility: a misstep, a lack of knowledge or skills can lead to children rejecting learning, dropping out of school and thus compromising their future and that of society.

Training, salaries and expertise

On the occasion of World Teachers' Day (5 October), Action Education is sounding the alarm: the lack of teachers in the world today is pushing governments to intensify the recruitment of poorly trained contract teachers, thus promoting poor quality teaching which will undoubtedly have major repercussions for the youngest. It is high time to move away from emergency responses to build more sustainable solutions and ensure a competent and motivated teaching force. This starts with offering quality initial and in-service training, salaries that are worthy of the responsibilities they assume, and career development prospects. Furthermore, it is essential to recognise the expertise and know-how of teachers and to allow them to be a force for change in order to improve education systems.

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