Teachers are a key determining factor in the quality of any education system. Some teachers work under appropriate and effective conditions. However, the conditions under which many teachers have to work, particularly in developing countries where the situation of child labour is critical, are often appalling. For decades, teachers have been teaching children despite the lack of physical infrastructure, learning materials and other essential support services.
While education systems in most countries are usually among the largest administrative sectors of government, the ultimate success or failure of the system to deliver services to millions of children depends upon the abilities and attitudes of teachers. Teachers have been expected to fulfil national educational goals and objectives despite inadequate or even inappropriate conditions for learning and teaching. In many countries, teachers are often forced to take on additional jobs in order to supplement their income out of economic necessity. These situations stretch the limits of teachers’ capacities and require a deep sense of commitment, resourcefulness and tremendous amounts of energy from them to meet expectations.
In terms of the crucial role of education in the elimination of child labour, it therefore is vitally important to ensure that teachers are given the opportunity to provide quality education to their students. This depends upon the quality of teacher education and preparation in a country, on the policies, procedures, infrastructure and material resources that define the teachers’ working and employment conditions. In this respect, IPEC fully supports the action programme of ILO's SECTOR-Education which focuses global attention on the critical issue of the worldwide shortage of teachers.
Providing a quality education for all requires that teachers must be supported to do their job better, through good training and improvements in their status, pay and working conditions; respect for their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining is critical in this respect. This was one of the key outcomes of the UNESCO 2005 Global Monitoring Report on EFA which focused on the quality dimension of education.