World Teachers’ Day 2021 celebrated in Kenya

The World Teachers’ Day 2021, under the theme Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery, was colourfully celebrated in Nairobi, Kenya on 5 October 2021. The event was held at two separate locations – Kenyatta University and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD). UNESCO collaborated with the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO and the School of Education of Kenyatta University to organize the event in the premises of the university. It was organized as part of an International Conference on Education and Lifelong Learning that was held on 6 and 7 October 2021. The Kenyatta University ceremony was attended by representatives of teachers and learners at the basic education level, university teacher trainees, education faculty staff, the University Vice Chancellor, and Dean of the School of Education of the University.

UNESCO Regional Director for Eastern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen was the Chief Guest for both the World Teachers’ Day 2021 and the International Conference and made speeches on both occasions. Prof. Hubert Gijzen highlighted the important role teachers play in the education system of any country and the need to cater for their needs in terms of professional development and welfare. He paid homage to the thousands of teachers who were called upon to take on roles for which they were not adequately trained when the COVID-19 pandemic forced school closures.

Prof. Hubert Gijzen also stressed the huge gap in the number of teachers required to meet the Education 2030 and SDG4 targets. He disclosed that 68 million more teachers are needed worldwide: 24 million for primary and 44 million for secondary. He further emphasized that the teacher shortage is most acute in sub-Saharan Africa, the most youthful continent on our planet, where 70% of countries face shortages at primary level, and 90% at secondary level (UIS, 2016). Prof. Hubert Gijzen also read out the World Teachers’ Day 2021 joint message of the Director-General of UNESCO, the Director-General of ILO, the Executive Director of UNICEF and the Director of Education International. At the end of the proceedings, Prof. Hubert Gijzen flagged off a walk to mark the World Teachers’ Day 2021 celebrations.

Parallel to the marking of the World Teachers’ Day at Kenyatta University, a hybrid event brought together 50 invited guests for a face-to-face meeting at KICD, which YouTube and Facebook streamed live. High-level officials attended the KICD event including the Chairperson of the Teacher Service Commission, the CEO of the Teacher Service Commission, representative of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, and the representative of the UNESCO Regional Director for Eastern Africa. In addition, representatives of the Kenya Primary Schools Head teachers Association (KEPSHA) and the Kenya Secondary Schools Head teachers Association (KESSHA) as well as the Executive members of the Kenya National Union of Teachers were present at the occasion.

As in the Kenyatta University event, each of the speakers underscored the important role of teachers in building a literate society. The major highlight of the celebration at KICD was the award ceremony in which 31 exemplary teachers were given trophies for their dedication and outstanding performance in “… teaching, management and effective delivery of the curriculum for quality education.” Among the awardees were Mr. Peter Tabichi who won the Global Teacher Prize for 2019, Mr. Eric Ademba winner of the African Union Continental Teacher of the Year Award for 2019, and Ms. Jane Kimiti winner of the African Union Continental Teacher of the Year Award in 2020. UNESCO is proud to have contributed to the Teacher award segment of the celebrations at the KICD event.