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Speeches & Transcripts October 5, 2021

Remarks by World Bank Group President David Malpass on World Teachers’ Day 2021

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I want to thank everyone for joining us today on World Teacher’s Day to celebrate the work and commitment of teachers. I’m pleased to be speaking to teachers and students, as well as to our close partners from UNICEF and UNESCO.

I’m speaking to you from East Jerusalem, where I just visited a nearby elementary school for girls in Jericho. Two days ago, when I was in Jordan, I visited the Zaatari refugee camp and saw one of the 32 schools there.

The World Bank Group is committed to supporting the education of all children, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and teachers play a critical role in this process around the world.

The pandemic has generated the worst crisis in education of the last century. The lives of 1.6 billion children, who were forced out of school worldwide, have been dramatically impacted.

Reversals in human capital accumulation are threatening this generation. Learning poverty, which is the share of 10-year-olds who can’t read a basic text, was already at a high of 53% in developing countries before the pandemic hit. Now, with school closures much longer than expected, we estimate that figure might rise to almost 70%. Dropout rates have also sharply increased around the world.

We cannot lose this generation of children and youth. We need to achieve impact at scale and quickly implement plans for children to return and stay in school, accelerate learning, and receive support.

On the positive side, the pandemic may have opened a window of opportunity to build a stronger education system going forward. Amid the tragedy, the pandemic is changing the role of technology, hybrid education, and teachers.

Teachers must be at the center of national plans for learning recovery. The pandemic has made it clear that education is a social endeavor, which is why we need an empowered, motivated and effective teacher in every classroom.

The World Bank has ramped up its support to education, committing $6.3 billion just over the last year. So far, our efforts are reaching over 400 million students and more than 18 million teachers – about one-third of the student population and nearly a quarter of the teacher workforce in client countries.

The event today is the culmination of a series of events introducing our new “Coach” program, designed to help countries improve their in-service teacher professional development.

Two examples: in Punjab, the Bank is supporting the development of a system in which coaches observe and provide feedback to teachers to improve their performance using our free digitalized classroom observation tool. In Ghana, the Bank is supporting hybrid schemes, combining on-site training with remote individual coaching.

As we will hear from speakers today, there will be no education recovery without empowered, motivated, and effective teachers, who can get students back to learning. The education of children is one of the most important investments we can make in our future.

Thank you.

Related: World Teachers’ Day Roundtable: Supporting Teachers to Accelerate Learning Recovery