Teacher in Ghana with schoolchildrenA global shortage of teachers has pressured many countries into hiring educators with little or no training, undermining the educational progress of numerous school-age children around the world, the United Nations education agency warned today.

In a press release ahead of World Teacher’s Day, marked annually on 5 October, the Institute for Statistics of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported that at least 93 countries have “an acute teacher shortage,” adding that some four million teachers would have to be recruited to achieve universal primary education by 2015 when the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) are expected to be met.

“A quality universal primary education will remain a distant dream for millions of children living in countries without enough trained teachers in classrooms,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova through the press release.

“Teachers are the core of any education system. Hiring and training new and already established teachers is fundamental to protecting children’s ability to learn in school.”

The new findings note that, of all the areas surveyed, Sub-Saharan Africa faces the greatest shortage, accounting for two-thirds of the overall number of teachers needed by 2030. The problem, added UNESCO, is being additionally exacerbated by the region’s steadily growing school-age population.