Image courtesy UNESCO.

Today, Monday 5 October 2020, is WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY.

This year, the theme is, “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future”.

The day provides the occasion to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide, take stock of achievements, and draw attention to the voices of teachers, who are at the heart of efforts to attain the global education target of leaving no one behind. This year, in view of the current global pandemic situation, World Teachers’ Day celebrations are taking place online.

In its comments on today’s special observance, UNESCO notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly added to the challenges faced by already over-extended education systems throughout the world.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the world is at a crossroads and, now more than ever, we must work with teachers to protect the right to education and guide it into the unfolding landscape brought about by the pandemic,” the UNESCO statement says.

The UNESCO statement adds: “The issue of teacher leadership in relation to crisis responses is not just timely, but critical in terms of the contributions teachers have made to provide remote learning, support vulnerable populations, re-open schools, and ensure that learning gaps have been mitigated.”

UNESCO notes that governments worldwide must address “the role of teachers in building resilience and shaping the future of education and the teaching profession”.

World Teachers’ Day has been commemorated annually on October 5th since 1994, observing the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers.

This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers, as well as standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions. The Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel was adopted in 1997 to complement the 1966 Recommendation by covering teaching and research personnel in higher education.

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Education, and the dedicated target (SDG 4.c) recognizing teachers as key to the achievement of the Education 2030 agenda, WTD has become the occasion to mark progress and reflect on ways to counter the remaining challenges for the promotion of the teaching profession.

(L to R) Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO; Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF; Guy Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization; David Edwards, General Secretary, Education International.

In a joint statement on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day 2020, the heads of UNESCO, UNICEF, ILO and Education International state:

“In this crisis, teachers have shown, as they have done so often, great leadership and innovation in ensuring that #LearningNeverStops—that no learner is left behind. Around the world, they have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students to allow education to continue. Their role advising on school reopening plans and supporting students with the return to school is just as important.”

World Teachers’ Day is co-convened by UNESCO, in partnership with UNICEF, the International Labour Organization and Education International.