On January 24, the International Day of Education, education unions warn that the world is not facing a global learning crisis, but a global education funding crisis. The only way to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 and ensure inclusive and equitable education for all is to fund free quality public education.

 

Massive teacher shortages must be addressed 

 

The global union federation for teachers and education workers is putting the spotlight on the importance of education for both economic and social development, and the key role played particularly by teachers in the education system as a whole. According to official data, 69 million teachers are needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. However, the poor working conditions, precarious situation and status of many education workers do not attract new professionals. Worse still, many trained teachers are leaving the profession after just a few years on the job. 

 

Attending the UN event marking the International Day of Education, David Edwards, Education International General Secretary, stated: “Without better investment in education, the right of every child to quality public education cannot be guaranteed. Many countries fall beneath the recommended 20 percent of their budget and 6 percent of GDP as an investment in education. This crisis can be turned around with political will”. 

 

Creative funding solutions are not the answer 

 

Educators are equally warning against the effects of privatisation on education. According to a survey conducted by Education International in 2018, 91% of education unions said that education privatisation was expanding in their country, with detrimental effects on access to and quality of public education, which is often neglected by policy makers. Numerous governments are relinquishing their responsibilities and supporting private actors to enter the profitable education market. 

 

Meanwhile, 263 million children and young people are currently out of school and, at the current rate of progress, their number will only decrease to 231 million by 2030. This means the world will miss SDG4 by 88%. The global trend to privatise education works against ensuring quality education for all, by undermining public education and deepening segregation and inequality. 

 

Underlining that education is a human right and a public good, Edwards noted that, “in a world facing countless challenges, from climate change to attacks on human rights and democracy, quality education and quality educators with professional autonomy and sufficient support are more important than ever. By supporting teachers to teach, we support students to learn and together, through education, we can shape the future.” 

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