Our Teachers, Our Heroes

Credit: UNICEF Bangladesh/2018/Sokol
  • Opinion by Yasmine Sherif (new york)
  • Inter Press Service
  • Education Cannot Wait Executive Director Statement on World Teachers’ Day

As we commemorate World Teachers’ Day – along with key partners such as the International Labour Organization, UNICEF, UNESCO and Education International – Education Cannot Wait honours the sacrifice, compassion and dedication of the world’s teachers. We know you work long hours, with low pay. We know that after COVID-19, we face a massive learning and achievement gap. We know that world leaders have done far too little to support education or people like you on the frontlines, making learning happen day-in, day-out in classrooms around the world.

In the best of circumstances, being a teacher is a challenge. Now imagine what it is like for teachers in a crisis or conflict-hit area in Afghanistan, Colombia, Syria or Uganda. Imagine what it’s like teaching while being one of the millions fleeing wars, conflicts and disasters without any support. Teachers walk to school in fear of attack, bombings, abductions, and other forms of violence and threats. They see their schools swept away in floods and sometimes their family wakes up hungry because of climate change-related droughts. This is the reality facing millions of teachers in the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

We must do better. Education Cannot Wait, the UN global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, puts teachers at the forefront of everything we do. The teachers are themselves affected by conflicts and climate-induced disasters, and yet they have to serve as mentors and caretakers – inspiring their students to develop and reach their full potential. We cannot underestimate the heroic work carried out by teachers in the most difficult circumstances.

Through ECW’s joint programming, or Multi-Year Resilience Programmes, 100% of the teachers we support receive skills building and training to succeed in the work they do. Since inception, we have trained over 140,000 teachers. In 2022 alone, we recruited and provided financial support to over 22,000 teachers and school administrators. We place a special emphasis on recruiting female teachers, with about half of all recruited teachers being women.

Now we must also focus on the quality of the training we provide in order to elevate and deepen the quality of education provided. That means expanded skills training and continued education for students, it means smaller classroom sizes, it means enabling policies at the local and national level, it means climate resilience in the classroom, so when the next disaster strikes, we are ready.

Together, we can make a better world. Teachers everywhere deserve our respect and admiration. Teachers cannot and should not wait! Join ECW and our strategic partners in supporting teachers in the toughest humanitarian crises on the globe. Let us all bow to them. Let us contribute with funding and a donation today.

IPS UN Bureau

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