There continues to be much talk about achieving inclusive and equitable quality education for all children, and rightly so, but what about the educators who are needed to make this happen?
Late last year, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) released information indicating that there was a global need for 68.8 million teachers of which 24.4 million were for primary education and 44 million for secondary. It was estimated ‘that of the 24.4 million teachers needed for universal and primary education (UPE), 21 million will replace teachers who will leave the workforce. The remaining 3.4 million, however, are additional teachers who are needed to expand access to school and underwrite education quality by reducing the numbers of children in each class to a maximum of 40.” The 44 million for secondary education included the replacement of 27.6 million teachers that would have left the profession by 2030 and the additional teachers needed to “ensure that every pupil is in a classroom with no more than 25 students”. This speaks of the need for an integrative training and development plan that includes effective succession planning, the effective transference of skills by those who will leave the profession before the target date of 2030 and innovative solutions for the teaching of the new generations.
Collectively for Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia this translates to the need for over 76%, that is 14.6 million, of the new teachers to facilitate achievement of the education target for universal primary and secondary education. It was reported that “across the region, more than 70% of the countries face shortages of primary school teachers, rising to 90% for secondary education.” It then goes on to say, “without urgent and sustained action, the situation will deteriorate in the face of rising demand for education”.
In the face of these significant numbers it is important to remember that the output of quality education is reliant on a range of interconnected factors; the education level of the teachers themselves, the quality of teacher training and development programmes, parity between teacher qualifications and standards, support and transition networks from training to learning environment, not to mention the art of teaching itself and the ability to teach effectively within a multi-culturally diverse and migratory population context, to name a few.
Formidable? Yes, however, it must never be insurmountable, too many generations are depending on us to find and implement effective solutions.
In Australia, our 9th international migrant hotspot, the school year takes place between January and December. Compulsory education begins between the age of 5 or 6 and can finish between the ages of 15 and 16, dependent on the State and Territory. Primary education begins with a kindergarten or preparatory year followed by 6 or 7 years of primary education before entering into secondary schooling at the age of 12 or 13. Secondary education consists of 4 years of Junior Secondary and the obtaining of a Junior Secondary Certificate of Education at the age of 16, followed by 2 years of Senior Secondary and the obtaining of a Senior Secondary Certificate at the age of 18. Higher Level education takes the form Vocational Education and Training and the obtaining of a range of qualifications, which are related to specific industries or, University study and the obtaining of Degree level qualifications.
The government website signposts a range of frameworks and organisations to help individuals understand the system and the range of opportunities that may be open to its residents.
Lesley Shepperson is Managing Director at Shepperson & Shepperson Consultants LTD