World Teachers' Day, held last week on 5 October, is an international celebration organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to "appreciate, assess and improve" the role of educators. The event was started by Unesco in 1994 and is now delivered in collaboration with other international organisations.
"There is no stronger foundation for lasting peace and sustainable development than a quality education provided by well-trained, valued, supported and motivated teachers," the organisers said last week.
Unesco added that the challenge of recruiting teachers was not just about the number of recruits but about ensuring that they were properly qualified, well paid and had the status they deserved.
About 58 per cent of countries do not have enough teachers to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015. While all regions of the world experience problems, the situation in sub- Saharan Africa is particularly bad.
New statistics from Unesco show that, by 2030, 2.1 million teaching positions will have to be created in sub-Saharan Africa. An additional 2.6 million recruits will be needed to replace teachers who are expected to leave the profession.
The focus of last week's World Teachers' Day was the need to recruit professional, well-trained and well-supported teachers.
Number (in thousands) of new primary teachers that areas with expanding needs will need to hire between 2010 and 2015(1)
Latin America and the Caribbean - 282
North America and Western Europe - 873
Central and Eastern Europe - 250
Arab States - 675
Sub-Saharan Africa - 1,806
Central Asia - 89
South and West Asia - 288
East Asia and the Pacific - 344
5.24m - New teachers needed by 2015 to meet the goal of universal primary education (3.66 million to replace those leaving the profession and 1.58 million extra recruits)(2)
57m - Children of primary age who are currently out of school
(1) Source: The Global Demand for Primary Teachers: 2012 update, Unesco table 2. bit.lyRegional Demand
(2) Source: Joint Message on the Occasion of the World Teachers' Day, Unesco et al (2013). bit.lyTeachersDayInfo.