Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future – World Teachers’ Day 2020

Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future – World Teachers’ Day 2020

Teacher leadership is crucial for the future of the profession and for inclusive and quality education. The importance of teacher leadership is further highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has directly affected 1.6 billion students at all levels of education and 63 million primary and secondary school teachers. Within a very short time, teachers across the world have had to adapt curricula, lesson plans, and teaching and assessment methods to ensure continuation and quality of learning for their students.

Many teachers, especially those in lower-income countries, had to tackle such unprecedented challenges with limited or no digital infrastructure. Teachers also play a crucial role in ensuring safe and smooth school reopening, and designing innovative educational responses to “new normal”. At the same time, teachers need to continue adapting themselves to the rapid transformation of the education sector, which is accelerated by the pandemic and the advancement of artificial intelligence. All of these call for strengthening of the leadership of teachers, who play an important role in shaping the future of education.

Against this background, the World Teachers’ Day 2020 has been celebrated with the theme of “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future”. On this occasion, the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education and the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 (TTF) co-organized an Asia-Pacific regional virtual meeting on 7 October 2020, to explore different types of teacher leadership in diverse national contexts and their roles in tackling the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis. 

The meeting brought together online nearly 200 participants from across the region. Teachers, school leaders, teacher educators and policy-makers from nine Asia-Pacific countries, as well as senior representatives from five international organizations and non-governmental organizations presented good practices of teachers playing a leading role at classroom, school and community levels, and shared their perspectives on the enabling factors, impediments and recommendations for empowering teachers.

This meeting is part of UNESCO’s week-long celebration of this year’s World Teachers’ Day, which comprised various global, regional and national events. It is also the second regional dialogue and experience sharing session jointly held by the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education and the International Teacher Task Force.

The World Teachers’ Day commemorates the signing of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers and the adoption in 1997 of the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel. It provides an annual occasion for the international community to take stock of the key issues concerning teachers and share good practices and recommendations for achieving Target 4.c of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 – substantially increasing the supply of qualified teachers by 2030.

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Main photo credit: Shutterstock/M2020