Network for Youth in Transition


Take a stand for teachers – Celebrating World Teachers’ Day

By Rudina Vojvoda

©UNICEF/NYHQ2012-1233/Susan Markisz
Ugandan teacher Teopista Birungi Mayanja speaks at the panel discussion following the Education First launch event at UNHQ.

NEW YORK, 03 October 2012 – Each year on 5 October, education and development organizations worldwide mobilise to honour the teaching profession and its essential role in providing quality education for future generations. This year’s motto, “Take a stand for teachers”, calls on all policymakers, stakeholders, communities and each and every one of us to show their support for teachers, especially considering that the current education system suffers from a shortage of two million teachers worldwide. Overcoming this deficiency is quintessential in achieving universal primary education by 2015.

Education First , the new global education initiative launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 26 September 2012, stresses the importance of hiring and training more teachers, providing them with opportunities for professional development and improving teacher’s earnings and their social status.

To commemorate the World Teachers’ Day and discuss the role of teachers as part of the Education First agenda, UNICEF podcast moderator Femi Oke spoke with Teopista Birungi Mayanja, the General Secretary of the Ugandan National Teacher’s Union and Charles Young, a youth activist from Jamaica. They both participated on the Education First panel discussion.

Listen to the Podcast in Streaming MP3 Format

“Teachers’ working conditions are children’s learning conditions”

According to Teopista, the education system in Uganda has gone through major changes over the last 15 years. With the introduction of universal primary education in 1997, the number of children enrolled in school tripled, but it was not accompanied by an increase in resource allocated to education.

In Teopista’s eyes, the Education First initiative is all about teachers. “Unless we train, recruit and deploy more teachers, the teacher-pupil ratio will not be reduced and so the learning won’t take place,” she said.

©UNICEF/NYHQ2012-1228/Susan Markisz
An image of Jamaican student and youth representative Charles Young is projected on an overhead screen while he speaks at the panel discussion following the Education First launch event at UNHQ.

For Charles, teaching is one of the most important professions in every country because teachers train doctors, lawyers and everyone else. Sharing his experience, Charles said that his first and fifth grade teachers have made a great impact in his life so far. They provided extra-curricular classes for him and motivated him to work harder.

Charles also said that he is very excited about the Education First initiative. “I honestly believe that we have a good thing going on here and it {The Education First Initiative} should be a huge… Young people are saying this is what is happening in the world and we want people to hear us because some people are not being heard and through the technology, which is the thing for our generation, we can make children be heard”, said Charles.

To conclude, Teopista stressed the importance of understanding that when we talk about teachers, we are in fact talking about children. “It is all about children because teachers’ working conditions are children’s learning conditions,” said Teopista.

More Information

To watch UNICEF Executive Director’s statement on World Teachers’ Day please visit:

Joint Message on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day

Read an interview with Richard Rieser, managing director of World o...

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