There is a real risk the world will not achieve inclusive, quality education for all by 2030 as set out in SDG 4. There are still more than 260 million children out of school and more than 600 million who are in school aren’t learning. The Education Commission estimated that on current trends, even by 2030, more than 800 million children will not be on track to achieve basic secondary level skills.
It is universally accepted that teaching quality is the most important determinant of learning outcomes at the school level. Yet, in many countries teachers are in short supply, inequitably distributed, isolated and not supported to provide effective teaching and learning. Globally, almost 69 million teachers must be recruited by 2030. In addition, many teachers who are currently in classrooms are ill equipped to teach. A study of seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa (conducted as part of the Education Commission's Learning Generation report) found that less than 10% of primary school language teachers could demonstrate a minimum level of subject knowledge.
In light of these challenges, the Education Commission’s 2016 Learning Generation report recommended the creation of an international group to catalyze thinking on how to strengthen and diversify the workforce. In response, the Education Workforce Initiative (EWI) just released Transforming the Education Workforce: Learning Teams for a Learning Generation during this year’s UN General Assembly. The report proposes new approaches for harnessing the potential of teachers and the broader education workforce to ensure quality education for all students.
At the launch, Ju- Ho Lee, former Minister of Education in South Korea and EWI Chair, noted that current workforce design is often based on an outdated model of education created to meet the labor needs of the industrial revolution and organized on the principle of mass production. Instead, “we need an education workforce for this century,” he said. “It is time to reimagine workforce we need now and for the future.”
The world is continually changing. The education workforce must respond to demographic shifts, environmental changes and the need for new skills, at the same time ensuring that all children are learning the foundations.