Guy Ryder: Teaching is a Profession Under Siege
The International Labor Organization (ILO)
Director-General calls for urgent action to
make teaching an attractive career once
October 3, 2012
The economic crisis has strongly affected working
conditions and salaries for many teachers, said ILO
Director-General Guy Ryder in a statement issued
ahead of World Teachers Day. [October 5}
Ryder said the lack of teachers has been leading to
an increase in the number of students in each
classroom, as funding for support services and
materials for schools has dropped.
Urgent action is needed to improve the status of
teachers and come up with policies ... that motivate
people to become teachers."
"All this has resulted in a decline in the status of
teachers," he said. "Sadly, it is a profession under
Ryder also denounced the recruitment of
"uncertified or poorly qualified teachers to fill the
gap". He called for "high initial and on-going
training standards", to ensure that teachers were
adequately prepared for their demanding profession.
"People don't see teaching as an attractive
profession, and some teachers actually leave the
profession," he said.
Need for urgent action
Ryder insisted that "urgent action" is needed to
promote sound social dialogue, improve the status
of teachers and come up with policies and strategies
that attract and motivate people to become teachers.
He also added that freedom of association and the
right to collective bargaining remained limited for
teachers in many countries.
Another priority he mentioned is the need to
"promote gender equality", not only to ensure equal
opportunities and treatment for teachers but also to
provide "appropriate role models" for students.
Ryder underlined that education is "one of the
pillars of sustainable economic growth and social
"Children who are in school have a better chance of
avoiding the trap of child labour. And when they
grow up and have their own children, children of
educated parents have better nutrition and care," he
Education is one of the main pillars of sustainable
economic growth and social development. Every
dollar invested in education translates into job
opportunities, higher productivity, and stronger
social capital. Children of educated parents have
better nutrition and care. Children who are in
school have a better chance of avoiding the trap of
For this reason I'm pleased to join other
organizations in taking a moment to honor the
women and men who deliver education to learners
around the world. Whether it's for toddlers in pre-
school or adults in vocational training, teachers and
trainers are responsible for providing the knowledge,
skills and values that build strong and stable
communities. Teaching is truly a noble profession.
Yet, sadly, it's also a profession under siege. Many
countries are facing significant teacher shortages. In
the wake of the economic crisis, the number of
students in each classroom has risen, funding for
support services and materials for schools has
dropped, and some countries have had to resort to
hiring uncertified or poorly qualified teachers to fill
the gap. Teaching hours have gone up, yet salaries
for teachers remain uncompetitive. Freedom of
association and the right to collective bargaining
remain limited for teachers in many countries.
All this has resulted in a decline in the status of
teachers, and further flight from the profession.
We need to take urgent action to foster sound social
dialogue with the aim of improving the status of
teachers, and devise policies and strategies that
attract and motivate capable men and women to the
profession. The education community, including
governments, employers, trade unions, educators,
parents and students, need to work together to
ensure high initial and continual training
standards, competitive remuneration, and attractive
working and learning conditions for teachers. We
need to promote gender equality at all educational
levels, not only to ensure equality of opportunity
and treatment for teachers, but also to provide
appropriate role models for learners throughout
their schooling. More also needs to be done to bring
underrepresented minorities into the profession. It
is also critical that teachers and trainers enjoy
respect for rights and principles of freedom of
association, organization and participation in
decision-making as set out in international labour
standards and international standards on teachers.
Our future depends on teachers. That's why today
I'm proud to take a stand for them.
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