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Tw The Key Icons Set 4 2022 09 16 Teachers
Education and


Key message

Good teachers are the cornerstone to providing quality education and realising desirable learning outcomes.

When teachers are well prepared and well supported, they can single-handedly close achievement gaps through the delivery of quality education, maximising the benefits of learning in every classroom. Good teachers are the backbone of any education
system and lay the foundation for all children to realise their full potential and become productive members of society.
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Key challenges
  • There is a global shortage of teachers. Worldwide, 44 million teachers are needed to reach universal basic education by 2030. 15 million primary and secondary school teachers need to be recruited in sub-Saharan Africa.
    (UNESCO, 2023)
  • Additional investment in teacher education would help to reverse the current decline in the number of known trained teachers around the world. From 2013 to 2017, the percentage of primary school teachers known to have been trained globally decreased to 85%. The qualifications of a majority of teachers worldwide remains largely unknown.
    (GEM, 2019)  (GEM, 2022)
  • Teachers are often underpaid for their critical services. The starting wage of a teacher was perceived as lower than fair in 80% of 35 countries surveyed globally.
    (Dolton et al., 2018)
  • Many teachers are qualified and trained, but not in the content area they teach. In Georgia and Saudi Arabia, fewer than 60% of science and maths teachers were formally trained in their subjects. Even when they are trained, 15% of primary and secondary school teachers worldwide do not have the minimum required qualification to teach.
    (GEM, 2022)  (UNESCO, 2023)
  • Teachers are the cornerstone to the delivery of quality education during pandemics or other emergencies. Providing the support they need to be successful is critical, yet fewer than 30% of countries in sub Saharan Africa trained and supported teachers implementing new distance learning initiatives during COVID-19.
    (UNICEF, 2021)
  • The teacher to pupil ratio is alarmingly high. In low-income countries, each primary teacher has an average of 52 pupils per class, while the global average. The ratio is particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa, where there are 56 pupils per teacher and in Southern Asia where there are 38 pupils per teacher.
    (UNESCO, 2022)
  • Gender representation in teaching is unequal. The decision to become a teacher may be influenced by early role models in the classroom. Countries with the lowest proportion of females in the primary teacher workforce also have low female enrolment in secondary education which is a prerequisite for teacher training. Female teachers are affected disproportionately due to lack of adequate housing, long and unsafe routes to school and a lack of childcare services making it difficult to keep women in remote teaching posts.
    (UNESCO, 2022)  (UNESCO, 2022)
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  • A single good teacher can change a child’s life trajectory. Children in primary school who have even one highly effective teacher are significantly more likely to go to college, attend better colleges, have larger salaries, higher savings, live in better neighborhoods, and are less likely to become teenage mothers.
    (Chetty et al., 2014)
  • Teachers are the single most important determinant of student learning. In the US, children with great teachers advance 1.5 grade levels or more over a single school year, while children with a poor teacher advance just half of a grade level. No other school- level factor has an impact on student achievement this large.
    (Hanushek & Rivken, 2010)  (Bruns & Luque, 2015)
  • Teachers have great influence. Supportive relationships between learners and teachers have been seen to positively influence children’s engagement and attainment in school, build their social and problem-solving skills and contribute to a sense of purpose and agency
    (UNICEF, 2022)
  • The quality of an education system is only as good as the quality of its teachers. Across 45 countries, student achievement rose and low performance decreased as the quality of the teachers increased.
    (EFA GMR, 2014)
  • Teachers are a force multiplier, with cross-sectoral impact, often serving as counselors, caretakers, psychologists, translators, nurses, or surrogate parents. Particularly in under-resourced areas, teachers may be the only provider of needed psychosocial support, connection to a host community, or protection for a child.
    (Fazel & Betancourt, 2018)  (Munz & Melcop, 2018)  (IRC, 2017)
  • Investing in quality teachers is a smart investment. A teacher in the top 15% produces over US$400,000 in added income for her class of 20 students through their future earnings. In the US, replacing the bottom 5% of teachers with average teachers has a present value of US$100 trillion.
    (Chetty et al., 2010)  (Hanushek, 2010)
  • Ensuring equity in teaching improves girls’ achievement. In Argentina, the Czech Republic and Turkey, as the share of female teachers increases in schools, the differences in PISA scores between girls and boys also tend to increase in reading performance and decrease for mathematics and science in favour of girls.
    (OECD, 2021)
  • Strong teachers increase academic achievement. Going from a low-performing teacher to a high-performing teacher increases student learning dramatically. Moving from a 10th percentile teacher to a 90th percentile teacher increases learning by 0.2 units in Ecuador and over 0.9 units in India.
    (World Bank, 2021)
  • Quality teaching matters. Having a good teacher is equivalent to an average gain in learning of one school year; having a great teacher is equivalent to 1.5 years of learning; but having a weak teacher may mean mastering less than half of the expected subject content.
    (Malala Fund, 2015)
  • To impact learning, policy needs to focus on what happens inside the classroom. Evidence is clear that, while many education reforms focus on organisational structures, curricula, or inputs, the most effective interventions change what happens inside the classroom and how teachers teach.
    (International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, 2017)
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Key opinions
2020 Angel Gurria 1
Angel Gurría
Former OECD Secretary-General
The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the resilience of our education systems, and risks undermining global efforts to achieve SDG4. It has also exposed deeply entrenched inequalities in education, from the technology required to access online education and the supportive environments needed to focus on learning, to our challenge to attract the best teachers to the most demanding schools. As we navigate the crisis, and strive to build back better, we must not forget that our schools today will shape our society tomorrow. Let’s ensure every learner is equipped with the knowledge, tools and support needed to reach their full potential!
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Nasser Siab
Nasser Siabi
CEO of Microlink
The global education gap can finally be addressed in a meaningful way through improved communication. One problem has been getting talented teachers into remote or impoverished areas. Covid-19 has shown us that teachers can be seen and heard across the world from any location. Why not harness the power of the world’s best teachers and make them available to everyone? It’s a workable idea because we also have technology that accurately translates speech into most languages. This could be used both for training teachers and for directly teaching students. The only limits are electricity, imagination, and our will.
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Key talking points
  • Good teachers are the backbone of education systems and on the frontlines of social change.
  • Well-trained and supported teachers are highly effective in positively influencing children – both academically and socially.
  • The quality of an education system is only as good as the investment in its teachers.
  • Countries are facing a global teacher shortage. An additional 44 million teachers will be needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal for education in 2030.
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