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World Teachers' Day 2021

Since 1994, World Teachers’ Day has been celebrated annually on October 5th. This observance commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. The Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions.

World Teachers' Day is an occasion to mark progress and reflect on ways to counter the remaining challenges for the promotion of the teaching profession. One and a half years into the COVID-19 crisis, the 2021 World Teachers’ Day will focus on the support teachers need to fully contribute to the recovery process under the theme “Teachers at the heart of education recovery”.

Preparing TVET teachers for the digital era

Director Soo-Hyang Choi

The digital challenges facing technical and vocational education and training (TVET) staff, in particular teachers and trainers, are substantial. Delivering remotely is a challenge for all teachers, but it is particularly daunting for TVET teachers, who have to rely more and more on digital means to deliver an education whose core process lies in hands-on experience.

Digital TVET requires the involvement of a broad range of professionals in its creation and provision. Indeed, the list of roles expected of TVET staff in a digital age can be extensive. In the best circumstances, a TVET institution may have the resources to recruit and retain different categories of professionals catering to various aspects of a digitalized teaching environment. In places with less resources, the division of work will be out of the question and one teacher will struggle, in vain, with multiple roles.

More importantly, with digitalization, some professions in the labour market will eventually be phased out. TVET teachers specialized in the skills on the declining path are at risk of losing their jobs. Even in many OECD countries, a large portion of TVET teachers do not have permanent job status. This situation will be exasperated by digitalization, and TVET teachers will remain as vulnerable to the evolving job market as their students.

Teacher assisting a student in coding class

When we talk about teachers, we are, first and foremost, talking about human beings, not a mechanism generating an educational process. Nor are they a system that can be maintained and upgraded externally for better operation.

UNESCO recommends that to support teachers in a crisis, there has to be a collection of precise data on their needs. Without data, no serious policy and systemic support can be devised. Second, teachers need a platform to share their needs and experiences as well as resources. Third, the absolute need to care for their professional development and support should not be ignored.

Are we providing teachers with enough support and guidance? The answer seems to be “not quite,” or “not yet” at best.

For educators, addressing well-being issues related to the introduction of new technologies is as urgent as addressing digital training needs. To tackle the mounting challenges that TVET teachers face in the digital era, we need a holistic and humanistic approach.

Adapted from a speech delivered by Soo-Hyang Choi, Director of UNESCO-UNEVOC, at the GIZ TVET Academy / UNEVOC Centre Magdeburg webinar on “Digitalization and TVET” in September 2021.

UNESCO’s World Teachers’ Day activities

A five-day series of global and regional events will showcase the effect that the pandemic has had on the teaching profession, highlight effective and promising policy responses, and aim to establish the steps that need to be taken to ensure that teaching personnel develop their full potential.

This year, World Teachers’ Day celebrations will take place in conjunction with the meeting of the Joint ILO-UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations concerning Teaching Personnel (CEART), which will run from 4 to 8 October 2021.

A calendar of events and the communications materials are available here.

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