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International unions sound the alarm about the status of teaching profession

The status of the teaching profession is not going well. Teachers worldwide experience a high workload, are underpaid and not valued enough. With corona, the profession was in the spotlight, but that has not led to structural improvements so far.

That's in the report The Global Report on the Status of Teachers 2021 of Education International (EI), a partnership of trade unions worldwide. The previous report on the status of teachers was from 2018.

No priority

According to EI, there are several factors that influence the status of the profession. Professor Greg Thompson of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia and author of the report notes that teacher salaries are too low and that governments do not see education as a priority when it comes to investment.

In a survey of 128 union leaders in 94 countries who work in various sectors, more than 42 percent say that working conditions have deteriorated over the past three years. As a result, the workload has increased further. Just over half of the respondents indicate that it is 'unmanageable'. 66 percent believe that all administrative requirements contribute to an excessive workload for education professionals. Half of the respondents also think that the teaching profession is not attractive to young people. Teacher turnover is a problem that EI sees reoccurring in all sectors; strongest in primary education.

Governments do not see education as a priority for investment

Uncertain work

What does not help are uncertain contracts and there too the unions are sounding the alarm, because they are seeing more and more. Three out of five respondents point to the use of temporary or short-term contracts. In addition, teachers without a permanent contract in, for example, Southwest Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa earn less than colleagues who are in permanent employment. They also receive less good professional support and work under worse working conditions. All in all, this does not help to portray the profession as 'attractive' to young people. The unions are concerned about that.

The survey of trade union leaders, which consisted of 69 questions, also shows that most trade unions believe that the government can do more to promote the teaching profession in a positive way. In the report, EI concludes that the under-salary, the image of the teaching profession in the media and the accountability pressure for teaching staff are still the biggest problems. These are the same challenges that EI already identified in 2018.

To invest

"This report shows that there is an urgent need for investment in teachers and in the students they train," writes David Edwards, secretary of EI. Raising wages and lowering the workload is urgently needed in order to attract the best people and provide everyone with quality education. In addition, there must be a clear collective agenda that has been negotiated with the profession itself.

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