World Teachers’ Day held annually on October 5, provides the occasion to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide ― the only profession that determines how all other professions will do.
Simply put, teachers matter for learning―more than any other school-based input. Effective teachers combine deep content knowledge, high-quality practices, creativity and empathy to improve student learning today and their long-term readiness to learn. Going from a low-performing teacher to a high-performing one can increase student learning dramatically―from nearly a year of learning in Ecuador to over three years of learning in India (Buhl Wiggers et al 2017; Bau and Das, forthcoming). Importantly, several years of outstanding teaching may offset the learning deficits of disadvantaged students.
Yet, today, classrooms across the world suffer from teacher shortages. The Education Commission estimates that 69 million teachers must be recruited globally by 2030 to meet SDG4 (Education Commission 2019). Even when teachers are in classrooms, they often lack the skills needed to be effective. In Sub Saharan Africa, the World Bank’s Service Delivery Indicators show that 84 percent of grade 4 teachers have not reached the minimum level of competence (Bashir et al, 2018). A video study conducted in Indonesia measuring subject and pedagogical knowledge of math teachers found that nearly 60 percent scored less than 50 percent. Unfortunately, many teachers worldwide do not receive the kind of professional development or leadership support needed to be effective. Consequently, over 600 million children worldwide are not learning, despite being in school (Education Commission 2019).
Teachers are successful when teacher policies are designed and implemented in a manner that attracts and retains high-ability individuals, by preparing, supporting and motivating them to become high-performing professionals. The World Bank has worked with governments in 108 countries on teacher-related activities over several decades. This includes projects encouraging good students to become teachers, such as Moldova’s Education Reform Project and the Dominican Republic’s Support to the National Education Pact Project. We have also been working closely with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritania and Ethiopia to improve teacher preparation. We worked with Ghana to strengthen coaching and Vietnam to build peer learning. In Peru and Ecuador, we are involved in helping to evaluate teachers better, so results can feed into teacher support programs.
The World Bank launched the Global Platform for Successful Teachers earlier this year, with the vision of ensuring all children are taught by effective teachers, with education systems supporting teachers to do their best.
With teachers mattering more than ever, the World Bank’s policy approach to teachers, “Successful Teachers, Successful Students”, emphasizes 5 key principles:
- Principle 1: Make teaching an attractive profession by improving its status, compensation policies and career progression structures
- Principle 2: Ensure pre-service education includes a strong practicum component so that teachers are well-equipped to transition and perform effectively in the classroom
- Principle 3: Promote meritocratic selection of teachers, followed by a probationary period, to improve the quality of the teaching force
- Principle 4: Provide continuous support and motivation, in the form of high-quality in-service training and strong school leadership, to allow teachers to continually improve.
- Principle 5: Use technology wisely to enhance the ability of teachers to reach every student, factoring their areas of strength and development.
As governments across the world look to increase student learning, supporting teachers and giving them the right tools is a critical first step. The World Bank Group will continue to work closely with countries to reform teacher policies and programs so that every classroom has a competent, empowered, and motivated teacher.