EDITORIAL - Empowering teachers
(The Philippine Star) - October 5, 2015 - 10:00am

It’s cold comfort to know that the Philippines is not alone in suffering from a shortage of teachers. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization estimates that at least 74 countries suffer from acute teacher shortages, with 59 million children excluded from primary education and millions more forced to study in cramped classrooms.

For this year alone, the world needs to hire an additional 2.7 million primary school teachers, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics or UIS. By 2030, the world will need a total of 25.8 million new teachers. As the international community observes World Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5, however, the focus is not just on addressing teacher shortages but improving the quality of education by boosting the qualifications of teachers.

UNESCO points out that teachers are the key to achieving UN development goals in building sustainable societies that are based on knowledge, values and ethics. To achieve the UN goal of universal primary education by 2020, UIS estimates that countries must recruit 12.6 million additional teachers.

As important as deploying more teachers is ensuring that they have the qualifications for the job. This is the focus of the observance of World Teachers’ Day 2015. Records compiled by UIS show that many countries are hiring teachers with little or no training to fill vacancies and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal of providing every child with 12 years of quality education by 2030.

Quality is the operative word; putting quantity over quality in education is doing harm to generations of children and jeopardizing the development of sustainable societies, according to the UN.

As the Philippine experience has shown, low pay is one of the biggest reasons for the lack of qualified teachers. In recent years, the government has tried to address the problem with higher compensation and additional teacher training. But the problem persists, and there are still Filipino educators who would rather work as maids abroad for higher pay than teach in their own land.

UNESCO says there should be no more than 40 students per teacher. Beyond achieving the ratio, countries need qualified teachers. This is the challenge for creating sustainable societies and boosting national competitiveness.

AS THE PHILIPPINE COUNTRIES EDUCATION MILLION QUALITY SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION SUSTAINABLE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL TEACHERS UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL WORLD TEACHERS
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