In the United States, we are very fortunate to have a plethora of wonderful teachers at our disposal that can give children a quality education. This is not the case everywhere.
Educating children can improve individual health and socioeconomic status, but educating is more than just going to school. If all children are to enjoy the benefits of attending and staying in school, more teachers are needed. In fact, a total of 28.5 million new teachers will be needed by 2030 for there to be universal primary education. As of today, teachers in developing countries are few and far between. When there are educators available, they are often assigned to oversized classes – on average with a ratio of forty students to one teacher. These large classes often include children who differ drastically in their preparation and readiness to learn.
In one classroom, there may be students of varying educational backgrounds, a wide variety of languages spoken and severe shortages of even the most basic educational resources –such as books, pencils or even classrooms. There is also a pretty good chance that the teacher in front of that classroom has only minimal educational preparation, and perhaps no training as a teacher. Too often, schools in poor and developing countries attempt to address this teacher shortage by lowering the requirements for being a teacher.
That is why it is not enough to just have quantity, but quality. The benefits of having quality teachers in schools is invaluable. Not only could one teacher increase the lifetime income of a classroom by $250,000, but they also increase the likelihood that their children will go to college and get higher-paying jobs, enjoying a 10 to 20 percent wage increase for every additional year of schooling and decrease underage pregnancies. The grade repetition rate goes down and the students are more likely to graduate with life skills rather than memorized facts.
There are many organizations who are working to get quality teachers in classrooms around the world. UNESCO has developed the Sustainable Development Goals, the fourth of which focuses on education. They recognize that education is pivotal to creating a sustainable world, and have developed programs to educate teachers so that students can get a quality education. The World Bank is also helping by funding low to middle-income countries’ education programs and working directly with those nations to create programs to encourage attendance and improving quality. Programs like “Learning for All: Investing in People’s Knowledge and Skills to Promote Development” which encourages countries to invest in education early and for all as a means of furthering development and UNICEF is working to provide trained female teachers with “The Female Teacher Trainee Scholarship” which pays to send women to a three-year College of Education.
There is still much to do to get teachers where they are needed most, but we are making progress everyday. UNESCO, the World Bank, and everyone else who are working together to make sure every child, every person, is able to have an education. I’m looking forward to the day when we have universal education. I think it’s not too far off.
-- Toria Van Horst
Toria is a citizen of the United States that is slowly learning about the social issues that are everywhere around her. When her mind is not being blown by the new viewpoints she is learning in her work with Facing the Future, she can be found surfing the web to learn even more. Her passions include developing herself as a person, food consumption and looking at adorable pictures of shocked animals.