In 1994, UNESCO proclaimed October 5 the World Teachers’ Day, celebrating the Recommendation concerning the status of Teachers issued, in cooperation with the ILO, on the same date in 1966. This year World Teachers’ Day was important for two main reasons: firstly, it marked the 50th anniversary of the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation. Secondly, it is the first edition conceived and organised within the framework of the Incheon Declaration for the Implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) n.4, aiming to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
Teachers can definitely be considered as the main delivery actors of SDG #4; for this reason, the 2016 World Teachers’ Day was dedicated to the theme “Valuing Teacher, Improving their Status”, as only if teachers are “adequately trained, recruited and remunerated, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems” they will be able to deliver quality education for all.
Valuing the status and work of teachers and providing them with the proper tools to deliver the best possible education is a main concern for the ISF.
School teachers, and Physical Education (PE) teachers in particular, are one of the key elements for the delivery and development of School Sport and for the promotion of education through sport and its values.
In fact, it is important to keep in mind that School Sport can only be developed thanks to the efforts of PE teachers that train School Athletes and allow them to take part in school competition at the local, national and international level.
In a recent interview at the European Parliament, the ISF President, Mr. Laurent Petrynka stressed the importance of PE teachers in the sport education of young athletes and in their passage from school sport to high level sport. Mr. Petrynka affirmed that the cooperation between School Sport and Federal Sport, especially in terms of training, is one of the elements that can, on the one hand, help avoiding the drop out from sport activities after students finish their school studies; on the other hand, this cooperation would add value to the training of technical staff of sport federations. This can be explained by the fact that PE teachers, trained by the school system, are usually more focused on the pedagogical elements of physical activity, whereas sport coaches, trained by sport federations, are more skilled on the technical aspects of different sports. Therefore, cooperation between School Sport and Federal Sport in training matters would help to link the two environments and would bring them mutual benefits.
Moreover, another issue that needs to be addressed is the training of PE teachers for primary education, i.e. before the age in which School Sport begins. A report of the European Union titled Physical Education and Sport at School in Europe shows how, in most European countries, Physical Education classes in primary schools are taken in charge by generalist teachers instead of specialist PE and sport teachers. Non-specialisation of teachers since primary schools is in contrast with the aims of SDG #4 to deliver quality education for all; this situation also clashes with Art.7.1 of the UNESCO Charter for Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport, which states that “all personnel who assume professional responsibility for physical education, physical activity and sport must have appropriate qualifications, training and access to continuous professional development.”
To conclude, World Teacher’s Day, on October 5, was the occasion to remind everyone of the fundamental role of teachers in our society. For what concerns Physical Education and sports, valuing teachers’ work and improving their status is an engagement that everyone should pursue in order to allow “the practice of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport” to become “a fundamental right for all.” (UNESCO PE Charter, Art.1)