World Teachers’ Day 2016 Reveals Increased Need for Business Engagement in Education

Photo Courtesy of DFID

Today marks World Teachers’ Day, established in 1994 by the UN to celebrate the teaching profession and honor those who dedicate their career to educating and shaping the minds of children around the world.

This year’s theme, “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status,” commemorates the 50th anniversary of the International Labour Organization and UNESCO’s Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers, passed in 1966. Among the report’s many recommendations, it emphasized that teachers ought to receive ample, quality training for their work, salaries commensurate with their importance to society, and school and classroom conditions that allow for effective teaching.

Additionally, the 1966 report called for mechanisms to ensure that teacher shortages minimize educational loss to students, while also noting that “improvements in the social and economic status of teachers, their living and working conditions, their terms of employment and their career prospects are the best means of overcoming any existing shortage,” of teachers.  

Though 50 years have passed since this report was written, many of these recommendations are startlingly relevant to the current global education climate as it relates to teachers. UNESCO reports that almost 69 million teachers are still needed today in primary and secondary schools. If this teacher gap is not narrowed, UNESCO argues, SDG 4, which calls for inclusive and quality learning for every child, cannot be achieved by 2030.

While considerable efforts are underway from the public and civil sectors to abate this trend, they cannot do it alone. The private sector has a critical and distinct role in helping to elevate teachers, support their needs, and strengthen the education systems for which they work.

Drawing from their recently-released report, The Learning Generation: Investing in Education for a Changing World, the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (Education Commission) advocates for a “Financing Compact for the Learning Generation.” Urging states to commit to expanded education financing, and the international community to provide concomitant financial support so that no state may fail for a lack of funds, the Commission outlines an ambitious plan calling for nothing less than the largest expansion of educational opportunity in modern history.

Business holds a special place in the Commission’s report, as the private sector stands well-equipped to:

  • Advocate for the professionalization of both teaching and non-teaching roles within education
  • Target business investments in education, specifically in the education workforce for both teaching and non-teaching roles
  • Support innovation in the design and delivery of education and quality teacher training
  • Encourage corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility initiatives to make commitments to teachers and education, such as  an “education giving pledge”

Business can also lend its voice and expertise to the Education Commission’s recommendation of establishing a year-long task force of education stakeholders to consider ways of redesigning the professional roles within the education field, and identifying strategies to best meet their recruitment, training, integration, and professional development needs.

“We need to invest in the education workforce and reimagine what it could become,” writes Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, in the report’s preface. “We need to place the teacher at the center.”

By investing in the education workforce, fostering innovative approaches towards training teachers, using its voice to rally for and strategize with teachers, and encouraging corporate philanthropy to focus their efforts on education, business can help place teachers at the center and, ultimately, work towards achieving SDG 4.

See how GBC-Education Members are Celebrating World Teachers’ Day:



Western Union

Oando Foundation

To find out more about how your business can best support education and teachers, reach out to us at [email protected].