Today is World Teachers Day. It is a day for teachers to speak their minds and to tell us about the challenges and joys of their daily work. It is also a day for policy makers to listen to what teachers have to say, and to take noteof their challenges, and their suggestions for improvements in the future. To foster the links between teachers and policy makers, the EFA Global Monitoring Report has produced an Advocacy Toolkit for Teachers in partnership with Education International and the Teachers Taskforce for Education for All at UNESCO. We have produced this document knowing how vital it is that teachers be part of the solution as we strive towards providing a quality education for all.
It is no secret by now that there is a huge teacher gap around the world. As was shown in the last EFA Global Monitoring Report, there is a chronic lack of trained teachers as well. Tomorrow, we will be releasing a new policy paper joint with UIS showing how large the teacher shortage still is. This shortage is taking its toll on the quality of education, feeding into the already overwhelming fact that there are 250 million children not learning the basics, over half of whom are in school.
Policies to address this learning crisis can only be effective if those responsible for implementing them are involved in shaping them. Yet policy-makers who aim to improve education quality rarely consult teachers or their unions. A survey in 10 countries showed that all teachers thought it was vital to have influence on the direction of policy, but only 23% felt they had any at all.
In some parts of the world, however, teacher unions are critically important to educational quality and have broadly positive working relationships with government and local educational employers. Virtually all top performing countries on international educational measures have strong unions that participate in setting the educational reform agenda. The unions provide important feedback on the actual conditions of teaching and learning. In some contexts, they provide infrastructure for educational systems where such capacity does not otherwise exist. Some are capable of fostering innovation and bringing needed new educational practices into being.
Engaging teacher unions has also been seen to improve policies aimed at helping disadvantaged students. In Bolivia, for example, unions helped ensure that indigenous rights were written into the constitution. Their promotion of instruction in indigenous languages contributed to a decrease in illiteracy.
However, on the whole, policy-makers do not engage closely enough with teachers or their unions. It's time for this to change, which is why we have produced this Advocacy Toolkit. It contains fourteen simple steps for teachers to take to lobby their governments. If you're a teacher, try it out, and keep us in touch, either by email, or on twitter. We're happy to support where we can.