02.10.2012 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Africa needs one million new teachers by 2015

©Thierry BONNET

The demand for teachers in sub-Saharan Africa continues to grow as more African children get a chance to go to school.

New data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) shows that Africa needs an additional 993,000 primary-level teaching positions by 2015 in order to provide quality education to the region's primary school-age children.

"Countries in sub-Saharan Africa that currently increase enrolment in primary education will need to recruit the equivalent of 63% of their current teaching workforce before 2015," says Marc Bernal, UIS regional advisor in Africa.

Lack of qualifications 

In order words, Africa would have to increase its teaching workforce by one-third of its current 3.1 million teachers.

This is the situation in the great majority of African countries with the exception of Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Madagascar, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, and Togo.

"The pressure to hire many new teachers to meet the goal of Universal Primary Education and replace teachers leaving the profession often lead to the recruitment of less qualified teachers or even to lower national standards," adds Bernal.

The most extreme shortages are found in eight African countries, where the required annual growth of teaching staff exceeds 10%: Eritrea (24.0%), the Central African Republic (21.2%), Chad (16.0%), Burkina Faso (13.8%), Malawi (13.6%), Mali (14.4%), Niger (14.1%) and Côte d'Ivoire (12.4%).

Lack of female teachers

UNESCO's Institute for Statistics also highlights the lack of gender balance among teachers in Africa. While primary teachers are generally women in most of the world, men dominate the profession in sub-Saharan Africa.

Women account for less than 30% of new recruits in countries like Eritrea and Mali. Nonetheless, progress is being made in other countries: for example in Ghana, the number of female teachers among the new recruits is higher than in the current teaching force.

UNESCO works on several fronts to assist African countries to meet the increasing demand for teachers. Actions include:

  • Reinforcing teacher training institutions,
  • Supporting teacher policy formulation and implementation,
  • Promoting teachers' professional development,
  • Monitoring instruments and promoting teaching standards, and
  • Producing and disseminating knowledge about teachers.



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