Data of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization show that 44 million teachers are still needed to achieve the goal of providing primary and secondary education for all by 2030.
The problem is not only one of funding, but also the unattractiveness of the profession, according to a new analysis published on Tuesday ahead of the World Teachers’ Day 2023 (October 5).
In 2016, UNESCO estimated the global teacher shortage at 69 million. The Organization finds that the shortage has been reduced by almost one third; the new estimate is 44 million.
The situation has improved, but not enough to meet the global needs for education.
The region that has made the most progress is Southern Asia, where the shortfall has been halved since 2016, to an estimated shortage of 7.8 million teachers. In contrast, Sub-Saharan Africa has made little progress and alone accounts for 1 in 3 of the current global shortfall.
In Europe and Northern America, despite low birth rates, the teacher shortage is the third largest of all world regions with 4.8 million additional teachers needed. In Latin America and the Caribbean, there is a shortage of 3.2 million. UNESCO conducted research in order to better understand the reasons for this teacher shortage. An analysis of attrition data from 79 countries from different regions of the world and at different levels of development reveals that the teaching as a profession is too often unattractive.
This results in failure to recruit young people to the profession and a clear increase in the dropout rate during their career.
In these 79 countries, the attrition rate – which measures the proportion of teachers who decide to leave the profession permanently – among primary school teachers almost doubled from 4.62 percent in 2015 to 9.06 percent in 2022.
Situations vary considerably from one country to another, but three main factors stand out: poor working conditions, high levels of stress and low pay.
A myriad of issues can place strain on working conditions, ranging from a lack of supplies which puts increased pressure on teachers’ workload, to burdensome administrative responsibilities and poor school leadership that can undermine teachers’ morale.
Stress levels are also a problem: teachers who experience ‘a lot’ of stress at work are more than twice as likely to want to leave the profession, especially within the first five years.
Low salaries also make the profession less attractive. Globally, only one in two countries pay primary school teachers as much or more than other professions requiring a similar qualifications level. The phenomenon is amplified in Europe and North America, where there are only 3 countries out of 10.
At the upper secondary level, many high-income countries pay teachers 75 per cent or less than the salary paid in other comparable professions.
Given the systemic shortage of teachers, UNESCO recommends seven measures to make the teaching profession more attractive, to be adapted according to national situations and issues: First, Invest in improving initial teacher education and in continuing professional development programmes.
Second, Establish mentoring programmes that pair experienced teachers with newer ones and encourage peer collaboration.
Third, Ensure that teachers receive competitive salaries and benefits, particularly in relation to other professions requiring similar levels of qualifications, as well as opportunities for advancement.
Fourth, Streamline administrative tasks and paperwork to allow teachers to focus more on teaching and less on bureaucracy.
Fifth, Promote a healthy work-life balance by setting reasonable expectations for working hours and reducing unnecessary workload.
Sixth, Provide access to mental health and counselling services to help teachers cope with stress and emotional challenges.
And seventh, Promote strong and supportive school leadership that values teachers’ input, provides constructive feedback, and fosters a positive work environment.
Source: Kuwait News Agency