70 Million Teachers Needed

Teacher shortages at primary and secondary levels must be addressed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030

In 2015, UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to end poverty, address climate change, reduce inequalities, and ensure quality of education. Each goal has specific targets to achieve by 2030. As part of Goal 4, the international education community has pledged to achieve inclusive and equitable quality primary and secondary education by 2030, and “promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” However, 263 million children and youth are still out of school. This includes 61 million children of primary school age (6-11 years), 60 million youth of lower secondary school age (12-14 years), and 142 million youth of upper secondary school age (15-17 years).

Furthermore, millions of the children worldwide who are attending school are not learning: over 38% of children lack basic literacy and numeracy skills, and 250 million children either fail to make it to grade 4 or do not meet a minimum level of learning.

For a child to learn, he or she needs to have access to quality education and teachers. Target 7.c of the SDG 4 calls for an “increase of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States.” Yet, new data from UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) show that if nations are to achieve the SDGs, they need to recruit 68.8 million teachers by 2030.

At the primary school level, 24.4 million teachers are needed—21 million of them will replace teachers who will be leaving the workforce and 3.4 million are additional teachers who are needed to expand access to school and ensure that children receive quality education by reducing the number of children in each class to a maximum of 40.

At the secondary level, the need for additional teachers is even greater: 44.4 million teachers are needed by 2030, of which 27.6 million are needed to replace those who will be leaving and 16.7 million to ensure that there are no more than 25 students per teacher on average.

For the world to meet the SDGs, millions of additional teachers are needed. However, improving education quality requires more than just having enough teachers in the education system: teachers need to be well-trained, motivated, empowered, supported, and commensurately paid.


Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics database


For more information:

UNESCO. (2016). Global monitoring report. Education for people and planet: Creating sustainable futures for all. Paris, France: Author.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (2016). UIS fact sheet, October 2016, No. 39. http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Documents/FS39-teachers-2016-en.pdf

UNESCO eAtlas of Teachers: http://tellmaps.com/uis/teachers/

Anne Bauer