Of every 3 teachers needed globally, 1 is required in sub-Saharan Africa: UNESCO

Only nine of region’s 46 countries projected to meet target to ensure universal primary education by 2030, according to the report

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Wednesday 06 March 2024
Representative photo from iStock

recent report by UNESCO shows worrying findings regarding the achievement of the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) on quality education by 2030. The most concerning figures are from sub-Saharan Africa.

Teacher recruitment is not on track globally, with the world requiring an additional 44 million teachers by 2030 to meet universal primary and secondary enrollment.

Of every three teachers needed globally, one is required in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest number of teachers globally, with only nine of its 46 countries projected to meet the target to ensure universal primary education by 2030.

Primary teacher numbers in Angola, Benin, Burundi, Chad, Guinea, Mali and Niger need to increase by more than 10 per cent annually to meet targets, the report stated.

The situation in Angola and Ethiopia is also challenging as teacher numbers have been declining over the past decade, in comparison to about 10 per cent or more annual growth needed.

Read Teacher shortage: Sub-Saharan Africa needs 15 million new educators despite gap closing globally

Globally, at secondary level, even fewer countries are expected to meet teacher recruitment targets — only 30 out of 187. In sub-Saharan Africa, just four of 44 countries are expected to achieve targets for teacher recruitment at secondary-level by 2030.

A number of countries in the region need to increase secondary teacher numbers by more than 20 per cent annually, including Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Niger and South Sudan.

The United Nations had created the 17 SDGs in 2015 with the aim of “peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”.

Cause for hope

The report noted that while teacher shortages across sub-Saharan Africa were a widespread challenge, there were reasons for optimism in certain contexts.

For instance, countries from a diverse set of regions, including Kenya and Congo are projected to best meet the demand for primary teachers by 2030.

This will be a possible scenario if the historical growth remains at the same level, either by steadily augmenting the size of the teacher workforce or due to a combination of strong recruitment and a decrease in the school-age population.

Countries projected to best meet the demand for secondary teachers by 2030 are Kenya, with an annual rate of 29 per cent growth, followed by the Central African Republic, Congo and the Gambia.

The report also revealed that while 86 per cent of teachers worldwide possessed minimum required qualifications at the primary level, this figure reduced to only 69 per cent in the case of sub-Saharan Africa, marking a decline since 2010 when it was at 75 per cent.

According to the report, women are least represented (fewer than 30 per cent in primary education) in a number of Central and West African countries, including Benin, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Comoros, Liberia and Togo.

“Just as teachers support us all, it’s time to support teachers. Let’s make sure they have the support, recognition and resources they need to provide quality, relevant education and skills for all,” UN chief Antonio Guterres said, advocating for wide implementation of the guidelines produced by education experts.

The report comes out of growing solidarity with teachers at the global level—from the recommendations of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on the Teaching Profession and the Transforming Education Summit, where countries committed to transforming teaching, focusing on elevating their status, working conditions and professional development.

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