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Teachers, their training, recruitment, retention, status and working conditions are among UNESCO’s top priorities.

“Teachers are the single most influential and powerful force for equity, access and quality in education”, says Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.

The main challenge faced by the teaching profession is both one of numbers and quality. In other words, the world needs more and better teachers.The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.

UNESCO works to address this challenge in addition to advocating for teachers and defending their rights.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), at least two million new teaching positions are needed worldwide to ensure universal primary education by 2015 (2011 projections).

This “teacher deficit” is an obstacle to reaching the internationally-agreed Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

The UNESCO Teachers Strategy 2012-2015 focuses on developing capacity for training and building a high-quality teaching force in countries most hampered by the lack of teachers, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

UNESCO is committed to upholding legal frameworks that protect teachers’ rights. A committee of experts appointed by UNESCO and the International Labour Organization (ILO) meets every three years to monitor the application of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers (1966) and the UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel (1997).

Every year on 5 October UNESCO celebrates World Teachers’ Day along with its partners ILO, UNDP, UNICEF and Education International.

The International Task Force on Teachers for EFA is a voluntary global alliance of EFA partners (national governments, IGOs, NGOs, private sector organizations, UN agencies, etc.) working together to address the ‘teacher gap’ the “teacher gap”.