Date: 5 Oct 2006
Speaker: Secretary-General Don McKinnon
Location: Marlborough House, London, UK
World Teachers’ Day Conference - ‘Optimising Commonwealth Teacher Potential’ (Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth Teachers’ Grouping, National Union of Teachers)
'Education, education, education' - you know the saying…
Education is the key to everything. To peace and democratic stability, to jobs and economic growth, to good health, to respect and harmony between the sexes and between different faiths, ethnic groups and communities. It is the key to literally billions of unique human beings fulfilling their unique potential.
And teachers are the key to education. You can have a school without a building, without books and pens and desks and blackboards. But you can't have a school without a teacher. It's as simple as that
Every one in this room will have unforgettable experiences of being shaped by wonderful teachers, or perhaps by bad ones. I have three siblings, five aunts and two uncles who are teachers, so I know about the pressures on teachers - as well as the value of what they do.
So on World Teachers' Day we warmly salute teachers everywhere, and particularly in the Commonwealth. We are deeply in their debt - so are our children - so will be our grandchildren. 40 years ago came the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation on the Status of Teachers. But we knew their status 2400 years ago. Alexander the Great wrote that he was 'indebted to his father for living, but to his teacher for living well'.
And the world faces two problems with its teachers - problems which are especially acute in Africa and in South Asia.
First, there simply aren't enough teachers - that's a big reason why so many children don't go to school in the first place.
Second, the teachers that there are, are not trained to do their jobs properly - and that's a big reason why so many children drop out of school before their time.
There is crisis at the level of teachers. Consider this: two years ago, 4,000 South African teachers died of AIDS, and 21,000 left the country to seek a better life in pastures new.
the full speech
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