United Nations Day – October 5, World Teachers’ Day

5 October – World Teachers‘ Day
5 Ekim – Dünya Öğretmenler Günü
“It is only education, science and teachers that can save the nation.”
~ M.Kemal Atatürk ~

United Nations World Teachers‘ Day, also known as the International Teachers’ Day, is held yearly on October 5 since it was recommended by UNESCO in 1994. World Teachers ‘Day is celebrated through a global event at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, with regional and country events worldwide. The purpose of the day is to support teachers all over the world to provide quality education at all levels and to emphasize the crucial role of teachers in building more fair and sustainable societies.

With the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on Quality Education and the dedicated target (SDG 4.c), the United Nations recognized teachers as key to the achievement of the 2030 Education Agenda. World Teachers’ Day has become an event to celebrate and promote the teaching profession and to reflect on the issues that are challenging teachers, especially in developing regions with extreme poverty. Even in countries that have reached universal enrollment, education available to children can vary greatly, due either to location or socio-economic status. For example, there are usually enough teachers in the cities with larger school systems, but it is not easy to have qualified teachers in more remote and less fortunate areas. And to achieve SDG 4 by the target year of 2030, the world will need an additional 69 million teachers to keep up with the educational needs in certain areas of the world.

World Teachers’ Day is celebrated in partnership with UNICEF, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), the ILO (International Labour Organization), and Education International. This years theme for World Teachers’ Day is: “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher.” Like the other U.N. days this year, World Teachers’ Day 2018 will mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) that recognizes education as a basic right and secures comprehensive and fair access for all children by establishing an entitlement to free mandatory education.

This year’s theme, “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher,” was chosen to remind the world that the right to education cannot be fulfilled without access to trained and qualified teachers. Qualified teachers are the backbone of any educational system. They are extremely important for any society for so many reasons; teachers educate the youth of the society who in turn become the leaders of their generation. What they learn from their instructors will not only arm them with information but also shape their character, world view and future decisions.  Therefore, teachers need to be provided the latest pedagogical tools, more rigorous training, academic freedom, technological support, better conditions for employment such as having job security and higher wages. Around the world, teachers are working in countries and regions that are affected by discrimination, rising intolerance, fundamentalism, restrictions on academic freedom and political pressures. Teachers in conflict areas need to be supported more than ever to provide a quality education under their living circumstances.Therefore, an empowered teacher is an essential factor for a good educational system and sustainable development begins with education.

High quality education for all youth can vastly improve economic growth, help people escape poverty and greatly improve inter generational income mobility while promoting tolerance and diversity and it is a key factor for gender empowerment. To assist in attaining high quality education, Ataturk Society of America (ASA) founded a public school in Turkey’s Tokat province in 2013. In this continued project of educational infrastructure sustainability, the Ataturk Society provided a library, musical instruments, a computer room, computers and other necessities in an effort to support underprivileged children’s education. ASA also hosted the “Little Heroes” event in 2014 that raised funds for children’s education. Furthermore, ASA continually recognizes the accomplishments of educators and students by giving them awards for demonstrated success in their chosen fields.

United Nations agencies and partner organizations expressed in a joint statement that investment in teachers is urgently needed for millions of young people, children and adults worldwide to get a better education. On this day, Ataturk Society of America resonates to the U.N.’s message by reminding the world of the following quote from Atatürk, one of many, in his address to teachers in October 1925 in Izmir, emphasizing teachers’ invaluable contributions to the betterment of society: “It is only education, science and teachers, that can save the nation.”

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