The Numbers Problem: A Look Into The Global Lack of Teachers

By | 2018-05-20T23:35:26+00:00 May 28th, 2018|

Teachers are known for being an essential resource of education. Apart from textbooks and online websites, they’re considered as important people in the field of learning in every country across the world. From primary to tertiary education, the presence and assistance of qualified and well-supported teachers are crucial for student learning. In fact, effective teaching methods can significantly impact how much students can achieve in school. However despite progress in the recent years, global teacher shortage has remained to be a serious concern. Thus if you want to look into the lack of teachers globally and understand why it happens, read on:


The Challenge of Teacher Shortage and Quality

When it comes to primary education worldwide, more than 29 million teachers in 2012 are employed with 82% of them in developing countries. Ideally, the pupil/teacher ratio or PTR has been a vital tool in assessing teacher shortage and most importantly in measuring progress in good quality education.

LACK OF TEACHERS 1Internationally, average PTRs have changed at primary and secondary levels. While PTR for primary education has improved slightly from 26:1 to 24:1 and in secondary education from 18:1 to 17:1, relying on the results of the pupil/teacher ratio doesn’t guarantee the sufficiency of teachers for students around the globe.

In fact, in the absence of a global target on PTR in primary education level, the commonly used benchmark is 40:1 and 29 out of 161 countries had a PTR exceeding 40:1 as of 2012. Among these countries are sub-Saharan Africa, three in South and West Asia including Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and one in the East Asia which is Cambodia and Mauritania, one of the Arab States.

Moreover, the pupil/teacher ratio also fell short by at least 20% in 63 countries including Bhutan, Gabon, Timor Leste and Vietnam. However, 13% of sub-Saharan African countries suffer from the teacher shortages at both primary and secondary levels of education.


The Need for Trained Teachers in Many Countries

LACK OF TEACHERS 2While the world faces a significant lack of teachers in almost all levels of learning, it’s important to remember that employing a pool of teachers doesn’t necessarily mean having good quality education at all times. It’s in fact equally vital to ensure that employed teachers are well-trained and motivated in the field.

Unfortunately due to teacher shortage, several countries have quickly increased their numbers of teachers by hiring applicants who don’t possess proper qualifications. Some countries often out of necessity have resorted to lowering the entry requirements for the teaching profession.

For example, the proportion of trained teachers in Ghana fell gradually from 72% in 1999 to 53% in 2013. Although hiring untrained teachers can accommodate a higher number of students in classrooms, in reality, it can still jeopardize the quality of education every student rightfully deserves.

In most cases, the lack of experienced teachers is more likely to impact the disadvantaged places as there has been a widespread imbalance of teacher deployment within countries. An example of which is Mexico where trained teachers are likely to choose to teach richer and urban municipalities, thereby leaving the remote and rural areas with new and inexperienced teachers.

In South Africa, teachers who have better knowledge in Mathematics and reading are deployed to metropolitan and better-resourced schools, and only two-thirds of teachers possess the minimum requirements to enter the field of teaching in Nigeria.

Additionally, the percentage of teachers with more than 20 years of teaching experience in large cities is greater than in rural villages.  


Things To Consider To Improve Teacher Status

The challenge of teacher shortage across the world has become a serious distress in the field of education. For instance, the problems encountered in teacher recruitment and retention can result in the low status of the teaching profession – and this lowering can be attributed to salary, respect and value placed on teaching by the society. Keep in mind that improving the status of teaching means giving the teachers a better motivation and job satisfaction, thus increasing the level of retention and performance as well as student learning.

While some countries have taken procedures to provide professional incentives to increase the status of the teaching profession, below are some essential recommendations governments and other agencies can actually consider to ensure deployment of qualified, supported and motivated teachers for all students internationally:

  1.   Attract the most experienced teachers from a wide array of backgrounds.

Remember that education is for all. It’s not only intended for the rich and those living in large cities and other urban areas. Therefore, policies and strategies should be provided to make sure that teaching is appealing to well-trained teachers from diverse backgrounds.

These teaching professionals, for instance, should also be more than willing and ready to live and teach in remote places. This means hiring well-equipped teachers from local communities as they are more likely sociable and adaptable to the students in school.

  1.   Develop teacher education before and during their teaching career.

Even though some countries declare that they have a sufficient number of total teachers for their classrooms, the likelihood of having a shortage of trained teaching professionals is also high. Due to these unfortunate circumstances, policies and regulations should also be regulated to ensure that all teachers as much as possible have adequate qualifications, skills and even training. By doing this, education in all its aspects won’t be hampered by recruiting unqualified teachers who lack preparation, and ongoing development.

  1.   Hire teachers to where they’re most needed and start to retain them.

Shortage in the teaching profession can be prevented if you get teachers who are willing to accept positions in areas where their teaching expertise is needed the most.

  • You can also actually encourage trained teachers by giving them a combination of incentives such as bonuses, extra allowances and good housing.
  • When it comes to preventing the continuous shortage of teachers in schools worldwide, improving pay and working conditions can be the best way to retain well-experienced teachers.


Teachers are considered as one of the most important professionals toward having a top-notch quality education for all. Having said it, lack of teachers all over the world can impact the society as a whole. Talking about shortage in this sense, means having a deficiency of both new and trained teachers who are expected to impart knowledge to students. It’s therefore essential for teachers whether equipped or not to continuously receive adequate training with an efficient balance of theories and practical experience. That way, teacher shortage may be address, thus it may no longer be a serious global issue to education.  




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