Held annually on October 5 since 1994, World Teachers Day commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 1996 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recommendation concerning the status of teachers, which celebrated its 50th anniversary during last 2016’s edition.

A teacher giving instructions to pupils in class. un.org

The 1966 recommendation constitutes the main reference framework for addressing teachers’ rights and responsibilities on a global scale.

This year, World Teachers Day commemorates the 20th anniversary of the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel.  Teaching personnel at institutions of higher education are often overlooked in discussions concerning the status of teachers. Like teachers at pre-primary, primary, and secondary levels, teaching in higher education is a profession requiring expert knowledge, specialised skills, and pedagogical competence.

World Teachers’ Day 2017 will be celebrated under the theme “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers”, echoing the 2015 theme that followed the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) in September 2015, when teacher empowerment was reaffirmed as a top priority in all education and development strategies.

This day’s celebrations bring together governments, multi- and bilateral organizations, NGOs, private sectors, teachers and experts in the field of teaching.

With the adoption of SDG number 4 on education, the day has become an occasion for marking achievements and reflects on ways to counter the remaining challenges for the promotion of the teaching profession, like the acute shortage of teachers.

According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the world needs 69 million teachers if we are to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030.