Every child needs a teacher

Imagine school without a teacher! Around the world millions of children are missing out on school because they don’t have a teacher. And millions more who are enrolled in school learn in overcrowded classrooms because there aren’t enough teachers to teach them.

This assembly is about why children don’t go to school and what you can do to help make sure every child has a teacher.

How many children around the world do you think don’t go to school?

Is it

–          30 million?

–          60 million?

–          90 million?

Before I ask you to answer here’s a clue. Out of the three choices, the number of children out of school is closest to the total population of Britain and Ireland.

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The number of out of school children is around 60 million. The population of Britain and Ireland is around 68 million.

There are many reasons why children don’t go to school. As we’ve learnt already there often aren’t enough teachers. Frequently there also aren’t enough classrooms or resources. Many children live a long distance from the nearest school and it’s too far to travel. Lots of schools lack basic facilities such as clean water and toilets. Usually these reasons happen together at the same time, with the result that the quality of education is low. For families who are poor, it can make more sense for children to work than to attend school, where learning or even getting to class every morning is a big challenge. Or parents may be unable to afford the costs of their children attending school. Finally, in some places, particular groups of children, such as girls or ethnic minorities, face specific barriers to getting an education.

As we’ve just observed, the reasons why a child doesn’t go to school are complicated and there’s usually more than just one. But a global shortage of teachers is a very important reason.

However the challenges don’t end once a child is enrolled in school and has a place in class.

How many children are there in your class? I’m sure the answer is around 30.

What do you think learning is like in this classroom?  The global shortage of teachers means overcrowded classrooms.  In Suleman Tanko Laurel Primary School in Nigeria, there are 46 children in one class. However because there are not enough teachers, two classes are taught together which means over 90 children are being taught by only one teacher.

If every child is to attend school and receive a good education there has to be enough teachers.  There is a shortage of 1.7 million teachers around the world.  This means 1 in 18 teachers is ‘missing’ around the world. If all the missing teachers stood in a line and joined hands, the line would stretch all the way from London to Moscow.

Teachers and school facilities cost money. So how much money do you think the government here in India spends per year to educate each primary school child?

The answer isn’t straightforward because the amount varies between schools.

Let’s visit Malawi in southern Africa. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa.

How much do you think the government of Malawi spends on each primary schoolchild per year? Remember the UK spends between £3,000 and £8,000 per child per year.

Is it

£50

£150

£500

£1,000

In fact the government of Malawi spends £34 on a primary child per year.

Even if many poor countries could afford to spend more on education, they still wouldn’t have sufficient money to provide a quality education for all their children. In these circumstances the richer countries have agreed to support poor countries with overseas aid. This aid partnership helps to top up poor countries’ education budgets and improve the education they provide for their children. As countries become richer they should be able to invest more of their own money in education. However this doesn’t always happen. For example a middle income country like India still has millions of children out of school, a teacher shortage, large classes and poor school facilities. Countries like India could do better.

All in all, we all should join hands to secure every child a teacher, it’s only then that India and other states and countries would grow into becoming an educated nation that breathes with happy and educated children.

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