World Teachers’ Day: Nothing Can Substitute for a Good Teacher

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest blog post written by Irina Bokova, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO.)

Nothing can substitute for a good teacher. All major accomplishments begin with a teacher. Anyone able to read this text will remember a teacher who was a role model, who helped them become who they are.

Girls still make up the majority of children who are not in schools. I am especially concerned by this fact. This is an issue of human dignity, of health, of well-being, of fundamental freedoms. This has an impact across generations. When an anxious mother is unable to read what is written on the medication she gives to her children because she is illiterate, the human rights of all are violated.

How is it possible that today, in the 21st century, education is still not a reality for all? I cannot accept this situation, and I shall spare no effort in fighting against it. I myself have a daughter, and I cannot imagine what her life would have been without an education.

Earlier this year, Microsoft joined UNESCO and other partners to launch a new global partnership for girls’ and women’s education. This partnership is called “better life, better future”, and seeks to leverage the potential of technology to address literacy and secondary education for women and girls across the globe.

As Hillary Clinton said at the launch ceremony, “Opening doors of education to women and girls is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing as well”.

We must give equal opportunities to our daughters and sons. Every child left behind is a loss of human capacity, a loss of human potential. We cannot afford this today. We cannot do that without teachers.

In many regions, a low proportion of female teachers means fewer girls at school. In several central and West African countries, less than one teacher in five is female. A lack of role models for these girls means missed opportunities to unlock their potential.

In other regions, where the profession has become increasingly feminized, conditions of service, pay and status have deteriorated. Globally, an additional 2 million teachers are needed just to reach universal primary education, more than half in Africa.

In the Republic of Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders.” It is time the people who educate our children are treated with the same level of respect everywhere in the world. This is the purpose of this year’s World Teachers’ Day, launched by UNESCO in 1994 to celebrate the profession, and to promote international standards for teaching.

On this day, every one of us can do one thing to show respect and support for teachers. Today, I invite you to share inspiring stories of teachers on UNESCO's Facebook or Twitter accounts. A simple word of thanks is a strong message to show our support. Join us!

For related news on Microsoft’s support of World Teachers’ Day, check out this blog post on Education Insights.

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