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Africa

Africa marks World Teachers’ Day

Africa joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Teachers’ Day with the slogan “Take a Stand for Teachers”.

In Cameroon teachers used the day as an opportunity to demand a review of a key educational reform that is aimed at replacing the usual science subjects of physics and chemistry with general sciences.

The move by government to introduce education reforms on short notice has created discontent among science teachers and parents alike who say they need time to adjust to these reforms.

DW's correspondent in Yaounde, Moki Kindzeka, says for the teachers it means lack of sufficient knowledge to teach the new subject of general sciences will impede students' progress while parents will have to buy new text books for their children.

Man standing in front of school children

Many teachers in Africa lack adequate resources

"We reacted and have written to the office of the President. Teachers must be consulted before any reforms are made,” said Paul Ninjo, president of the Teachers' Association of Cameroon.

In Kenya the day was celebrated just days after a national strike ended that had paralysed teaching in all public schools. The strike had been called to push for higher salaries and allowances.

The Kenyan government has since agreed to harmonise teachers' salaries with those of other civil servants after a work stoppage for 22 days.

In Tanzania the day received little attention because teachers there are still demanding higher wages. In July this year teachers in Tanzania organized a nationwide strike which was later declared illegal by the court. Government officials are yet to react to the teachers' demands.

In an interview with DW, the interim president of the Association for Teacher Educators in Africa, Professor Elijah Omwenga said, “Teachers don't have much to celebrate, due to the many challenges that they face in executing their duties. They are complaining about little pay, inadequate working conditions and the slow government response to address their problems.”

According to Omwenga, many teachers in Africa have turned to strikes as a last resort in order to push their various governments to address their problems.

UNESCO calls for support for teachers

UNESCO logo

UNESCO has called for greater support for teachers

In her message to commemorate the day, UNESCO's Director General Irina Bokova said that taking a stand for the teaching profession means providing adequate training, ongoing professional development, and protection for teachers' rights

“On this day, we call for teachers to receive supportive environments, adequate quality training as well as ‘safeguards' for teachers' rights and responsibilities. We expect a lot from teachers – they, in turn, are right to expect as much from us. This World Teachers' Day is an opportunity for all to take a stand,” Bokova said.

The statement from UNESCO goes on to say that, all over the world, a quality education offers hope and the promise of a better standard of living. However, there can be no quality education without competent and motivated teachers.

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