International Day of Education Covid reality check: Governments are failing students and teachers

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As the biggest education crisis in history enters its third year, teachers call on governments to truly prioritise education, invest in the sector, and support the profession.

Belgium. (January 24, 2022) – Today, the International Day of Education, teachers from across the world are sounding the alarm to draw attention to the deepening crisis in the sector and the long-term consequences for students everywhere.

“Right now, keeping schools open and safe during relentless waves of the pandemic is a priority for governments, parents, and teachers everywhere. However, this priority is not reflected in education budgets. Since the start of the pandemic, education budgets have fallen in two-thirds of low- and middle-income countries, and in one third of upper-middle- and high-income countries. This is devastating, and every day teachers are asked to do much more, with much less”, stated David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International, the global voice of teachers and education workers. 

Even before the pandemic, the United Nations estimated that 69 million more teachers were needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 and ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all. The heavy workload, lack of resources to keep schools safe, and chronic understaffing in education means more and more teachers are leaving the profession. Unless governments act now, the global teacher shortage will become the next big crisis in education, depriving millions of students from access to a trained and qualified teacher.

Yet another alarming update comes from UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics and the Global Education Monitoring Report. A new report released today shows that countries will not achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 by 2030. Worse still, the bleak findings do not take into account the devastating impact of the pandemic on education.

If we are to reverse the damage caused by the pandemic and accelerate progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4, urgent action is essential.

In a video statement, David Edwards called on governments everywhere to truly prioritise education by:

  • Allocating at least 6% of GDP or 20% of government expenditure to education.
  • Focussing on teacher training, recruitment, and retention. Critically, governments must set and achieve ambitious national benchmarks on the percentage of teachers trained according to national standards.
  • Supporting the teaching profession and working with teachers and their unions to overcome this crisis.

About Education International

Education International is the voice of the teaching profession worldwide. As the global federation of education unions, it represents more than 32 million teachers and education workers across 383 organizations in 178 countries.

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