World Teachers' Day was launched by the Director-General of UNESCO, Federico Mayor, at the International Conference on Education in Geneva in 1993. The date 5 October was chosen because it was that date in 1966 that a special inter-governmental conference, organized jointly by UNESCO and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), adopted the Recommmendation concerning the Status of Teachers,which remains valid today.

World Teachers' Day was proclaimed to keep alive the recognition of the contribution of teachers to society. When drawing up their policies, governments all too often neglect teachers. Yet, without their full co-operation, there can be no sustained development, social cohesion or peace. A substantial proportion continue to live below the poverty line in many countries. It is not unusual for teachers to go unpaid for several months, sometimes more than a year.

World Teachers’ Day reminds governments and the general public of the role of teachers and of the need to improve their status and working conditions. Above all, it is an opportunity to show appreciation for their work in preparing the next generation to function efficiently in a changing world. 

More than 100 countries recognize World Teachers' Day and the number grows annually. Each country decides how to celebrate the day. Activities include television and radio programmes, seminars, round tables, awareness-raising campaigns and public debates. The Director-General of UNESCO sends out a message in various languages commemorating the occasion. This year the message is co-signed by the ILO, UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Although World Teachers' Day is gaining recognition, more efforts could be made by both the media and society to celebrate it.

It is hoped that those who read this will commit themselves to supporting teachers in tangible ways.