Some Asia-Pacific countries still struggling with high primary pupil-teacher ratio: Updated UNESCO eAtlas of Teachers

Some Asia-Pacific countries still struggling with high primary pupil-teacher ratio: Updated UNESCO eAtlas of Teachers

The pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) in primary education is as high as 46:1 in some countries in Asia-Pacific and the lack of qualifications at this level is a major obstacle to quality education in the region.

These are among the findings drawn from the latest edition of the UNESCO eAtlas of Teachers, which was released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) to mark this year’s World Teachers’ Day. The eAtlas presents a wide range of data and indicators based on results of the Institute’s annual education survey involving more than 200 countries and territories. Available in English, French and Spanish, the eAtlas lets readers explore the number and availability of teachers at the global, regional and country levels.

According to the eAtlas, there were about 16 million primary school teachers in Asia and the Pacific in 2015 [1], accounting for 52 per cent of primary teachers worldwide. The PTR presents the average number of students per teacher, and is helpful in measuring the availability of teachers against the number of students. The PTR for primary education in the region ranges from a significantly disproportionate number of students to a teacher, such as in Pakistan and Cambodia (46:1 in both) and Afghanistan (44:1) to those where the PTR is much smaller, such as the Maldives and Brunei Darussalam (10:1 in both).


Increasing demand from growing school-age populations is causing many countries to resort to hiring teachers with little or no training, posing an obstacle to quality education. Less than 50 per cent of primary school teachers in countries such as Bangladesh, Palau and Vanuatu are fully trained, for example.

SDG-Target 4.c calls on countries, especially least developed ones and small island developing states, to address this issue and increase the supply of qualified teachers.


UNESCO Bangkok’s Assessment, Information System, Monitoring and Statistics (AIMS) Unit is the Asia-Pacific regional office of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. For more information about the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, consult the following resources:

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[1] Asia-Pacific region consists of Caucasus and Central Asia, Eastern Asia, Oceania, South-eastern Asia, and Southern Asia. Data for Oceania refer to 2013.