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Key message

Good teachers are the cornerstone to providing quality education and realising desirable learning outcomes.

When teachers are well prepared and well supported, they can single-handedly close achievement gaps through the delivery of quality education, maximising the benefits of learning in every classroom. Good teachers are the backbone of any education
system and lay the foundation for all children to realise their full potential and become productive members of society.
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Key challenges
  • More investment into teacher education would help reverse the current trend of decline in the number of trained teachers around the world. From 2013 to 2017, the percentage of primary school teachers who had been trained globally decreased by 1.5% to 85%
    (GEM, 2019).
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  • A single good teacher can change a child’s life trajectory. Children in primary school who have even one highly effective teacher are significantly more likely to go to college,
    attend better colleges, have larger salaries, higher savings, live in better neighborhoods, and are less likely to become teenage mothers

    (Chetty et al., 2014).
  • Teachers are the single most important determinant of student learning. In the US, children with great teachers advance 1.5 grade levels or more over a single school year, while children with a poor teacher advance just half of a grade level. No other school- level factor has an impact on student achievement this large
    (Hanushek & Rivken, 2010)  (Bruns & Luque, 2015)
  • There is a global shortage of teachers. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal for education by 2030, countries will need more than 69 million more teachers
    (UNESCO, 2016).
  • Teachers have great influence. Aside from immediate family, teachers are the figures who have the greatest influence on young people
    (Chetty et al., 2012).
  • The quality of an education system is only as good as the quality of its teachers. Across 45 countries, the better the quality of the teachers, the higher the rate of pupils’ achievements. the less the rate of low achievement
    (EFA GMR, 2014).
  • Teachers are a force multiplier, with cross-sectoral impact, often serving as counselors, caretakers, psychologists, translators, nurses, or surrogate parents. Particularly in under-resourced areas, teachers may be the only provider of needed psychosocial support, connection to a host community, or child protection operative
    (Fazel & Betancourt, 2018)  (Munz & Melcop, 2018)  (IRC, 2017).
  • Strong school leadership means increased student learning. It is estimated that school leadership accounts for over one quarter of the difference in student learning across schools
    (Leithwood et al., 2008).
  • Investing in quality teachers is a smart investment. A teacher in the top 15% produces over US$400,000 in added income for her class of 20 students through their future earnings. In the US, replacing the bottom 5% of teachers with average teachers has a present value of US$100 trillion
    (Chetty et al., 2010)  (Hanushek, 2010).
  • Ensuring equity in teaching improves girls’ lives. Increasing the ratio of female teachers improved girls’ access to education and achievement in 30 developing countries, particularly in remote areas
    (Huisman and Smits, 2009).
  • Strong teachers increase academic achievement. In Poland, a student attending a school with low teacher quality is one-third more likely to score below the science benchmark, and one-quarter more likely to score below the maths benchmark, when compared with a student with high teacher quality
    (EFA GMR, 2014).
  • Quality teaching matters. Having a good teacher is equivalent to an average gain in learning of one school year; having a great teacher is equivalent to 1.5 years of learning; but having a weak teacher may mean mastering less than half of the expected subject content.
    (Malala Fund, 2015).
  • To impact learning, policy needs to focus on what happens inside the classroom. Evidence is clear that, while many education reforms focus on organisational structures, curricula, or inputs, the most effective interventions change what happens inside the classroom and how teachers teach
    (International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, 2017).
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Key opinions
2020 Angel Gurria 1
Angel Gurría
OECD Secretary-General
The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the resilience of our education systems, and risks undermining global efforts to achieve SDG4. It has also exposed deeply entrenched inequalities in education, from the technology required to access online education and the supportive environments needed to focus on learning, to our challenge to attract the best teachers to the most demanding schools. As we navigate the crisis, and strive to build back better, we must not forget that our schools today will shape our society tomorrow. Let’s ensure every learner is equipped with the knowledge, tools and support needed to reach their full potential!
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Nasser Siab
Nasser Siabi
CEO of Microlink
The global education gap can finally be addressed in a meaningful way through improved communication. One problem has been getting talented teachers into remote or impoverished areas. Covid-19 has shown us that teachers can be seen and heard across the world from any location. Why not harness the power of the world’s best teachers and make them available to everyone? It’s a workable idea because we also have technology that accurately translates speech into most languages. This could be used both for training teachers and for directly teaching students. The only limits are electricity, imagination, and our will.
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Key talking points
  • Good teachers are the backbone of education systems and on the frontlines of social change.
  • Well-trained and supported teachers are highly effective in positively influencing children – both academically and socially.
  • The quality of an education system is only as good as the investment in its teachers.
  • Countries are facing a global teacher shortage. An additional 69 million teachers will be needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal for education in 2030.
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