The importance of Restoring Teaching Respect
In most societies at most times throughout history, teachers have been among the most respected members of their communities.
Sadly, this respect has been eroded. According to opinion research in 21 countries by the Varkey Foundation, less than a third of parents in most countries say that they would definitely encourage their children to become teachers. When asked to rank teachers against other professions, only in China did people think that they enjoyed the same status as doctors. Frequently the ills of society are laid at the door of teachers. They are blamed for everything from a decline in manners among young people to a lack of basic skills in the workplace. They have even, on occasion, been blamed for a country’s poor economic performance. Too often politicians see teachers as an easy target for short-term political gain.
The effects of this are profoundly damaging to the life chances of the next generation. If teachers aren’t respected in society, children won’t listen to them in class, parents won’t back their teachers, and the most talented graduates will continue to disregard teaching as a fulfilling career option. Over time, this declining respect for teachers will weaken teaching, damage the learning opportunities for millions and ultimately weaken societies around the world. An uneducated citizenry can weaken cherished democratic institutions such as parliament and the free press. Uninformed democratic choices can give way to populism and even extremism.
Right now, we need teachers more than ever. We need great teachers to foster great minds. Otherwise, we will never tackle the problems facing the world — from climate change to conflict, disease and poverty. Human civilization only moves forward because teachers are there behind the scenes, sparking creativity, encouraging people on, guiding and pointing the way forward.
We call on governments around the world to protect and value teachers, and play their part in restoring the respect that they so richly deserve.
Club de Madrid signatories
Africa and Middle East
Abdurrahim El-Keib, Prime Minister of Libya (2011-2012)
Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro, President of Cape Verde (1991- 2001)
Cassam Uteem, President of Mauritius (1992-2002)
Olusegun Obasanjo, President of Nigeria (1976-1979, 1999-2007)
James R Mancham, President of Seychelles (1976-1977)
Jennifer Mary Shipley, Prime Minister of New Zealand (1997-1999) and Vice-President of the Club de Madrid
Han Seung-soo, Prime Minister of Korea (2008-2009)
Jose Ramos Horta, President of East Timor (2007-2012)
Roza Otunbayeva, President of the Kyrgyz Republic (2010-2011)
Belisario Betancur, President of Colombia (1982-1986)
Kim Campbell, Prime Minister of Canada (1993)
Luis Alberto Lacalle, President of Uruguay (1990-1995)
Ricardo Lagos, President of Chile, (2000-2006)
Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile (2010-2014)
Jorge Quiroga,President of Bolivia (2001-2002) and Vice-President of the Club de Madrid
Martín Torrijos, President of Panama (2004-2009)
Andrés Pastrana, President of Colombia, (1998-2002)
Felipe Calderón, President of México, (2006-2012)
Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia (1999-2007) and President of the Club de Madrid
Felipe González, President of the Government of Spain (1982-1996)
Alfred Gusenbauer, Chancellor of Austria (2007-2008)
Zlatko Lagumdzija, Prime Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina (2001-2002)
Rexhep Meidani, President of Republic of Albania (1997-2002)
Iveta Radicova, Prime Minister of Slovakia (2010-2012)
Petre Roman, President of Romania (1989-1991)
Jorge Sampaio, President of Portugal (1996-2006)
Boris Tadic, President of Serbia (2004-2012)
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, President of the Govt of Spain (2004-2011)
Tarja Halonen, President of Finland (2000-2012)