Last Friday was World Teachers’ Day. Not something you might have noticed in the United Kingdom. To celebrate the occasion a new report was published that reviews the concerns and attitudes of over 400 leaders of teacher unions and associations. The data was gathered in late 2107 and the report was compiled by Prof. Nelly. P Stromquist of the University of Maryland. The Report is entitled, ‘The global Status of Teachers and the Teaching Profession’. It can be accessed on line at: https://eiie.sharepoint.com/sites/researching/Shared%20Documents/Forms/AllItems.aspx?id=%2Fsites%2Fresearching%2FShared%20Documents%2FStatus%20of%20Teachers%2Ffinal%20report%2F2018_EI_Research_StatusOfTeachers_ENG_final%2Epdf&parent=%2Fsites%2Fresearching%2FShared%20Documents%2FStatus%20of%20Teachers%2Ffinal%20report&p=true&slrid=1f9d969e-d00d-7000-f5a8-bc9f11329c8f
Some of the conclusions will be familiar to readers from the United Kingdom; most teachers associated with unions or teacher associations working in schools are some form of civil servant, by which I take it to mean that they are paid and employed by an arm of the State, either a national government or some form of more local administration.
Teachers are seen as middle ranking professionals, behind doctors and engineers but ahead of the police and on a par with nursing. Not all teachers are seen as of the same ranking, with university lecturers accorded a higher ranking than those working with young children. This is despite the really valuable work the educators of young children do in laying the foundations for what comes later.
Dissatisfaction with pay and conditions appears widespread around the world, according to the survey that underpins this report. Some teachers face issues unknown in this country, such as the teachers in Africa that have to travel long distances to collect their pay. One hopes that the development of mobile banking across that continent will help alleviate such an additional chore. Surely something where unions can push for a quick win and, as the report notes, it might help reduce teacher absence as well.
With large numbers of people moving around the world, either voluntarily or because of forced migration, there must be a considerable number of teachers among this group. However, few figures of the occupational history of migrants, and especially forced migrants is known. However the report on page 30 does state that ’UK Unions estimate that there are 34,000 immigrant teachers in their country’. Can some of these help solve out teacher recruitment issues?
Around the world the picture of teacher supply is a complicated one. Attracting young people to the profession is a global challenge, especially where pay and conditions haven’t kept pace with those elsewhere in a society for positions requiring a similar level of education. However, 2017 was a period when most of the world was in a state of relative economic growth and public services often find recruitment a challenge in such circumstances. Across the world the attrition of maths and science teachers is much greater than for teachers of subjects such as history: something we would recognise in the UK.
There is an interesting section on trends in the privatisation of schooling. Unions still seem wedded to the notion of State education services, although the right of parents to choose is recognised. The concerns are as much about the welfare and service conditions of teachers as anything else: a legitimate concern for teacher unions and associations that work to protect their members as their primary function.
There is a lot more in this report than this piece can do justice to, so do take a look. Personally, I think splitting higher education and schooling into two separate reports might have made for a more focused outcome, but that is a minor criticism of an interesting and thought provoking report.