NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 5, 2014) Salesian Missions joins with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and many organizations around the globe to celebrate the 20th anniversary of World Teachers’ Day. The day honors the vital role that teachers play in the lives of their students.
Every year since 1994, UNESCO has celebrated Oct. 5 as World Teachers’ Day. The day was designated as a way to appreciate, assess and improve educators around the world. The theme for this year’s World Teachers’ Day is, “Invest in the Future, Invest in Teachers” and highlights the need for more rigorous training, better conditions for employment and quality-based teacher recruitment to attract new teachers, especially young people and women from under-represented communities.
According to UNESCO, one primary concern is the global shortage of teachers which has pressured many countries to hire educators with little or no training, undermining the educational progress of numerous school-age children around the world. UNCESCO notes that an additional 1.4 million teachers are needed to achieve universal primary education by 2015, the second of the eight anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals.
Teachers play an important role in the lives of poor youth in Salesian schools. Their work is vital to their students’ success both in and out of the classroom. Salesians educate more than 1 million youth in 3,200 primary and secondary schools and more than 800 vocational, technical and agricultural schools in more than 130 countries around the globe.
UNESCO also noted that quality teaching depends on teachers enjoying basic rights, such as protection from violence, academic freedom and the freedom to join independent unions.
Salesian teachers face many challenges educating poor youth. Many of their students have faced severe poverty and often lack basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Some were previously living and working on the streets and others have faced war as child soldiers or become refugees in war torn communities. Salesian teachers meet these challenges head on, providing education and hope for a brighter future.
“Teachers are the backbone of the Salesian educational system and we are dedicated to providing the support and training they need,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The value of strong teachers can be seen in the accomplishments of youth that graduate from their classes. Salesians believe that access to education and highly qualified teachers is critical to help youth learn job skills, improve their lives and find a path out of poverty.”
Salesians in many of the poorest parts of the globe are dedicated to increasing the number of trained teachers where they are needed most. The United Nations notes that there is a huge need for well-trained and well-supported teachers, particularly in African and Arab countries. Not only are the Salesians a major employer of quality teachers around the globe, they also provide the training and certification these teachers need.
Recently, a new Salesian-run secondary school in Zambia was the setting for a meeting to mark the launch of a fast track teacher training program. The program is a collaboration between St. Eugene University and the Zambia Ministry of Education at Don Bosco Secondary School. Through this program, the Ministry of Education is upgrading the knowledge and certification of some 2000 teachers as a way of improving education standards in the country.
To address the shortage of qualified teachers in schools, the teacher training program will enable teachers on government sponsorship to upgrade from certificate to diploma and from diploma to degree level. St. Eugene University will provide the advanced degree education to teachers, many of whom are graduating from Salesian schools.
“Quality education depends on well-trained teachers,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Salesian teachers help prepare students to easily transition from Salesian primary schools into continued higher education where they can begin to focus on finding a career path and learning the skills necessary to lead a productive life.”
UNESCO – World Teacher’s Day 2014