UNICEF calls for greater investments in teachers, and protecting teachers’ mental health and wellbeing

05 October 2023
Igor Bogdanoski, who has been teaching maths at the primary school “Blaze Koneski” in Prilep for sixteen years
Georgiev/UNICEF/2022

Skopje, 5 October 2023 Every year, on World Teachers’ Day, we are reminded of the critical role teachers play in achieving inclusive, quality education for all, and helping all students reach their potential.

Despite slight improvements in students’ performance in recent years, still more than half of all fifteen-year-olds in the country are failing to meet basic proficiency levels in reading and math. Considering that teachers are the single most important school-related factor that contributes to students’ achievement, any efforts to address the learning crisis must involve substantial investment in and support for teachers.

The UNICEF-supported OECD Review of the Assessment and Evaluation in the Educational System in North Macedonia highlights a number of recommendations to support and incentivize good teaching, starting from investing in high-quality initial teacher education and ensuring that the most qualified candidates are selected for teaching and adequately supported.

Further investments are also needed for quality and relevant professional development opportunities for the existing teacher workforce, based on teachers’ actual needs. Schools should focus on promoting a culture of learning and feedback, with a more prominent role of the professional learning communities. In addition, progression along the teacher career structure must continue to be based on professional competence.

At the same time, teachers should have access to quality curricula, learning materials, innovative and inclusive programmes and pedagogical approaches, but equally important, infrastructure and resources, including digital resources. Programmes such as the UNICEF-supported experiential learning programme, are demonstrating how teachers in this country are applying innovative pedagogical approaches that encourage scientific curiosity in students through simple but illustrative experiments, hands-on activities and play-based learning.

The pandemic has highlighted the need to build greater resilience in our education system, so we can respond quickly and effectively to any new crises. Teachers should be equipped with digital and pedagogical skills to use blended or hybrid learning, and to apply digital technologies and tools for inclusive learning, both in-person and remotely.

Another aspect of resilient education systems is support for mental health and psychosocial well-being, which are of utmost importance for the academic, social, and economic outcomes across the lifespan. The education system should ensure that there are policies, strategies and services in place to support the wellbeing of students and teachers alike. With that goal in mind, UNICEF has been supporting the introduction of a training programme for mental health and psychosocial support, aimed at enhancing the well-being and mental health of children and youth within the education system, as well as the mental health and well-being of teachers and staff.

Lastly, to address all of these aspects of quality teaching and learning, education spending must be increased and optimized, ensuring that finances and resources, including human resources, are allocated efficiently and equitably.

This year when North Macedonia celebrates 30 years since it ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and 30 years since UNICEF officially established cooperation after the country became an independent state, we are committed more than ever to support partners in their efforts to ensure teachers receive adequate support so they can provide quality and inclusive education for every child. We call on the government to continue investing in quality curricula, learning resources and professional development for teachers, and protecting teachers’ mental health and wellbeing, so that they can help ensure this generation of students can reach their full potential. 

Media contacts

Irina Ivanovska
Tel: (02) 3231-172
Suzie Pappas Capovska
Tel: (02) 3231-244

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.mk.

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