World Teachers' Day 2013

© UNESCO-Kathleen Chiappetta
Students learn about computer aided engineering technology from a representative of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics at the 2013 World Teachers’ Day.

On 4 October 2013, UNESCO celebrated World Teachers' Day by inviting local students and teachers to its headquarters in Paris, France. This year’s theme, “A call for teachers!” highlighted the predicted shortfall of educators around the world. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, around 3.3 million primary teachers will be needed by 2030 in order for all children to receive a basic education. In addition, around 5 million lower-secondary teachers will also be needed by 2030. Given the vital roles that teachers have in shaping the thoughts and identities of youth, it is important to commemorate and support all of the world’s educators. As Ms Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, said in an address to delegates and visitors, “[UNESCO] has always been and is a House for teachers. We need your experience and your vision to continue shaping the global debate on human development for the century ahead.” 

Several of the UNESCO Engineering Initiative's partners participated in this event. Through providing hands-on activities, participants had the opportunity to explore the importance of sustainable engineering for future development. These interactive exhibitions also emphasized the need for excellent science educators to cultivate the next generation of engineers.  

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) showcased a video highlighting the success of their Teacher In-Service Program (TISP) training workshops which impact teachers’ ability to enhance the learning experience through ‘hands-on’ lessons. The video showed students learning how wind energy, a renewable resource, can be used in lifting and moving objects. In the exercise, students created and designed their own fans using various materials and then tested whether their inventions could lift a tea bag, using the energy obtained from a hair dryer. The IEEE TISP exhibition demonstrated the importance of hands-on learning to student engagement in engineering.

Engineers without Borders-UK (EWB-UK) and Robogals offered students the opportunity to learn basic principles of robotics through hands-on activities. The students learned to program a series of commands to make the robots pick up red or blue balls. In doing so, the students understood how robots can ‘sense’ objects, and how they can be (and are) used in society.

The International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), a UNESCO Category 1 research centre, also participated in the event. Through their computer aided engineering technology, the ICTP engineers’ demonstrated augmented reality, which allows people to view a 2-D image as a 3D object with the help of a computer screen. For example, using this software, students can build electrical circuits or understand how antennas pick up signals. Furthermore, this technology can also be used to visually recreate World Heritage Sites. This ICTP demonstration showed students how computer engineering is changing the way we interact with the world around us.  

Lastly, the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) presented two educational videos encouraging youth to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.  “Science: Where Can It Take You?” highlighted how studying science and engineering can lead to a  fascinating and rewarding career in the chemical industry.  The other film, “Chemistry:  All About You” showed how chemistry contributes to sustainable solutions in daily life.  Through these films, EPCA offered students a demonstration of the importance of STEM careers in the development of societies.

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