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To achieve SDG4, we need trained, motivated and supported teachers


We all know education is important. We talk about it as though it is our shining hope in the dark. Education is one of the most important tools we have to shape our values, learn to navigate challenges in life, and learn the practical and critical thinking skills we need to create the lives for ourselves that we wish to lead. This is part of the reason why education is so important for community development.


SDG4 is undisputedly related to our ability to achieve the rest of the 2030 Agenda. Targets to ensure universal, equitable and quality education for all include all phases of life, from early childhood to life-long learning. It includes the need to equip young people with the skills they need for the careers they wish to pursue. It includes eliminating disparities in all types and levels of education for marginalised and vulnerable groups. It includes imparting the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender quality, peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and cultural diversity.


And those who will be imparting this education are our teachers.


According to the 2017/18 Global Education Monitoring Report, in OECD countries, teachers earn on average only 81% of what other full-time working professionals with tertiary education earn. In many developing countries, particularly in rural areas, teachers are forced to rely on community contributions to support themselves. In some schools there may be only one teacher for up to 100 children. Others lack basic building and sanitation standards, and still less have access to electricity. Despite the enormous challenges, the education share of total aid feel from 10% in 2009, to 6.9% in 2015.


Despite these incredibly difficult circumstances, we expect teachers to do much more than teach.


To provide high quality instruction to all students, teachers need high quality training themselves. They also need incentives and ongoing support from their school management teams, communities and governments. Humana People to People members manage over 53 pre-service primary teacher training colleges across seven countries. Courses incorporate essential life skills and critical thinking components to equip and empower trainees to be able to teach effectively in the challenging environments will face once they start teaching.


In addition, Humana members have also begun Communities of Practice for graduates to pool knowledge and resources and support each other. In Malawi, the network is currently made up of 87 teachers who represent 56 primary schools across 15 districts in the country’s Central and Southern regions. Members meet several times a year to share teaching materials, experiences and strategize ways to overcome common difficulties. Despite limited resources and time, the network is an important source of support and motivation for members.


But this is only a small step in the right direction. Teachers need more from us if we hope to achieve SDG4 and indeed, the 2030 Agenda. New perspectives and practices in teaching and learning is one of the main themes at this year’s WISE summit in Doha, which brings together some of the world’s top thinkers around education. It is a unique chance to include other stakeholders in how to support teachers to achieve everything we expect from them in building the world we want, and it should not be passed up.