A World Teachers’ Day Message from President & CEO Diane Whitehead

Photo of Diane Whitehead

This World Teachers’ Day, and every day, we applaud and thank teachers around the world for their commitment, creativity, passion, and expertise.

For young people, teachers are truly a lifeline to education and learning. They are the shoulder children cry on, the mentors they look to for support and caring, and the key to opening new worlds of opportunity. I thank all of you who make a difference for the children and young people you serve each and every day. We truly could not have an education system without the dedicated teachers who make it possible for young people to grow, develop, and succeed.

As we celebrate teachers, we must also look at the challenges they face. This year’s World Teachers’ Day comes amidst an increasing crisis in education which is impacting teacher’s ability to engage in their profession and practice, just at the time when we need teachers more than ever.

According to new global estimates, 222 million crisis-affected children and adolescents are in need of education support, a substantial increase from previous estimates. For most children worldwide, education was deeply disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and we are seeing substantial losses in learning. Some children have not yet been able to return to their classrooms. Children with disabilities struggle to access education and be equitably included in learning opportunities. As if that were not enough, climate change and ecosystem destabilization are displacing young people and their families and making some environments, including school buildings, unsafe or not fit as living or learning spaces.

5 October World Teachers Day. Photo of man and boy outdoors, looking at a book

The 2022 World Teachers’ Day theme, “The Transformation of Education Begins with Teachers,” rightly centers on the importance of teachers in the everyday lives, learning, and wellbeing of students.

But teachers cannot transform education alone. Around the world, education sponsored by governments lacks the funding and resources it needs. To deliver on our promise of quality education, teachers need the pay, support, trust, and recognition they deserve as partners in transforming education. When we invest in teachers, we position them to deliver on the promises of holistic, equitable, joy-filled, and meaningful learning.

Just as we must focus on the wellbeing of children, we must also focus on the wellbeing of teachers. Teachers are frontline workers in supporting children who have experienced conflict, trauma, displacement, unstable home environments, or community disruption, such as the disruption that occurred with COVID-19. To be able to fulfill their roles, teachers need resources and support for their own wellbeing. We must help to keep our teachers engaged, energized, and feeling good about themselves and their profession.

World leaders recently met at the Transforming Education Summit and committed new funding, support, and attention for education. This is heartening and provides new hope for action on this urgent issue. However, we must now stay focused on this mission, and grow our commitment to transforming education by including teachers in education planning and transformation, and listening to their expertise and vision.

We must invest in their wellbeing, support innovative new ways to help teachers to deliver learning, and make the leadership commitment to carry this through. Our teachers deserve to be appreciated and recognized for the challenging roles they play in enriching the minds of the next generation and supporting their development. Our children’s lives and learning depend on it.