World Teachers Day must focus on better support for teachers in developing countries

3 October 2019

More than half of all children not reaching basic levels of reading and maths

Launch of international #TeachersTransformLives campaign

UNESCO says goal of quality learning for all unlikely to succeed

Today the UN marks World Teachers Day 25 years since its launch in 1994. After a quarter of a century of global effort to improve learning outcomes, millions of teachers are still without the support and training they need to succeed. Consequently, more than half of all young people in the world have not attained the basic reading and maths skills needed to build prosperous futures for themselves and their communities.

Today, a new campaign is being launched called #TeachersTransformLives to raise awareness of how teachers can be better supported, trained and empowered to help children learn even in the most challenging places. The campaign highlights seven teachers from impoverished communities whose experience of teaching has been transformed due to a new programme of training and support. They demonstrate firsthand that teachers on the frontline of this silent teaching crisis can change lives and improve outcomes if supported effectively. 

In several Sub-Saharan Africa countries the average teacher does not perform much better on reading tests than the highest-performing Grade 6 or 12-year-old pupil . In six such countries 40% of primary school teachers are not as knowledgeable as their pupils should be. According to the World Bank, teachers in low and middle income countries often lack the skills or motivation to teach effectively. This lack of quality teaching is linked to poor outcomes, school drop-outs and long term out-of-school children. 

Chaitra Murlidhar leads professional development for teachers and school leaders across territories in Asia and Africa. She says: “Ultimately, the quality of education delivered is tied to how well a teacher is set up to succeed in her classroom. The status-quo world over is that teachers are often held accountable for outcomes without always being given the support and coaching they need to develop and grow their teaching practice. I believe in investing in teachers, in equipping them with the skills, mindsets and the support they need to lead their classrooms to success. Then, and only then, can they be held accountable for delivering on student learning gains.”

Timed to highlight World Teachers Day, #TeachersTransformLives is sharing teachers stories of success and growth from the frontline. One such government teacher is Prince Dormeyan, he has been working in a remote part of Liberia as a teacher for many years. He said: “In the past I struggled as a teacher because I did not have people to help me or the right materials. But things have changed, and I’ve been through some new training and now I’m a better teacher than ever. Before I did not have many different ways to instruct children, but now I know a lot of techniques and that has really made things better for my class.”  

Teachers who are working on the front line of the global learning crisis explain how they are becoming stronger teachers and how training and support is making them agents of positive change in their communities. Their stories shine a light of teachers in challenging communities who are making a huge impact on children because of a reinvigorated approach to training and support. 

Ms. Murlidhar continues: “Teachers can be more effective if they are equipped with training, coaching and support designed to improve student learning outcomes. A lot can be accomplished to propel teacher development and growth if existing budgets are put to use effectively. We know because we’ve done this several times and at scale. Skilled, motivated teachers are the foundation for improving education systems. The quality of a nation’s education cannot exceed the quality of its educators. Only with an intentional, well-planned investment in teacher development, can the UN Goal of quality education for all by 2030 be achieved.”

There remains a global shortage of over 68 million teachers who are needed by 2030, making the global learning crisis both a quantity and quality issue for communities, governments and every sector helping to address the challenge.  



The Bridge Press Office, London

+44 203813 8236


Notes to Editors

The TeachersTransform Lives campaign can be seen in detail on the campaign homepage, here

Interviews and case studies of teachers profiled in this press release are available upon request. 

Contact the press office for more pictures of this case study teacher or others in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria or India.

Interviews with Chaitra Murlidhar; the former head of the Leadership Institute for Teachers and Teach India Alumni, are available on request via the Bridge Press Office.

About the campaign:

#TeachersTransformLives is a campaign to help give a voice to teachers in low and middle income countries who have been properly supported to teach and are therefore role models of success for other teachers and governments. The campaign focuses on 6 short films of teachers whose experience has been transformed through new training and support:

World Teachers’ Day, held annually on 5 October since 1994, commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions.

The World Bank report on lack of quality teaching is available here.

Extract of World Bank Report:

Few teachers reach minimum thresholds of performance on knowledge assessments 

Percentage of teachers who score at least 80 percent on a test of grade 4 material:

The UN notice with details of the global shortage of over 68 million teachers is available here.

The UN notice on more than half of young people not learning is here

About Bridge

Bridge runs or supports nursery and primary schools in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, India, and Liberia where communities live on $2 a day per person.

Bridge believes every child has the right to high-quality education and works in partnership with governments, communities, parents, and teachers to ensure access to quality education. Bridge uses in-depth teacher training and support, advanced lesson plans and wireless technology to provide pupils with a meaningful and life-changing education. It runs or supports over 1,500 schools and has educated 750,000 children.

Globally, there is an education crisis. Around 600 million children are in school not learning the basics.. Bridge is committed to helping tackle this through a data driven, evidence based approach that delivers strong schools and a great education for all.

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