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The most effective interventions to improve student learning rely upon strong teachers. A shift from a weak teacher to a very good one can equate to several additional years of schooling and learning. These educators also influence long-term social and work outcomes for students.

To ensure that all children are taught by effective teachers, the World Bank recognizes the importance of preparing and supporting teachers throughout their careers. This support to teachers is increasingly crucial in the context of high global learning poverty rates, particularly prevalent in low- and middle-income countries, and the significant learning recovery needs due to prolonged school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within this context, key challenges include:

  • High levels of learning poverty – the share of children unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10 – reflect in part an inability to appropriately recruit, prepare, support, manage, and motivate teachers.
  • In many countries, teachers are not equipped with the skills they need to deliver effective teaching and learning. 
  • Moreover, assessing teachers’ content and pedagogical knowledge and skills is not straightforward, while data are scarce, and available studies are not encouraging. 
  • While well-performing education systems provide effective initial teacher education (preservice), including theoretical knowledge and practical skills on content and pedagogy, as well as a practicum component, this is not the case in many countries.  
  • Effective continuous professional development (CPD) can improve teachers’ practice and learners’ outcomes. However, most large-scale professional development programs do not feature the characteristics known to be successful
  • 44 million additional teachers will be needed to achieve universal primary and secondary education and fulfill the promise of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) by 2030. 

Smart investments in teachers have great potential to improve education quality and student outcomes.

Last Updated: Nov 09, 2023


Kristyn Schrader-King
Communications Lead, Education