World Teachers’ Day, also referred to as International Teachers’ Day, is observed annually on October 5. It is a day that celebrates the incredible role that teachers all over the world play and their important contribution to society. World Teachers’ Day is a United Nations observance and not a public holiday. As such, schools and businesses operate as normal.
World Teachers’ Day is a global celebration and should not be confused with Teachers’ Day, which is celebrated on the first Tuesday of May in the US and forms part of Teacher Appreciation Week.
What is World Teachers’ Day?
World Teachers’ Day is a United Nations (UN) observance that was first recognized in 1994 by UNESCO. It is celebrated on October 5 since it derived from the signing of the October 5th, 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation. It ensures the standards, rights, and responsibilities for teachers across the globe, concerning matters such as employment, working conditions, initial training and continuous education for teachers. The commemoration is a collaborative between UNICEF, the International Labour Organization and Education International.
Teachers provide education at all levels, from children to adults, in a diverse field of studies. It is vital for teachers to have standards in place to protect and look out for them, to enable them to carry out their job and continue to make a difference in and out of the classroom, and in their local communities. By raising awareness of the importance of teaching and the current issues affecting teachers, the aim is that it will in turn improve the quality of education.
Each year, Teachers’ Day is celebrated with a different theme, as set by UNESCO. In 2020, World Teachers’ Day was celebrated with the theme “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future”. Referencing the global pandemic, the theme addressed the challenges and effects COVID-19 has had on teaching worldwide from teachers firsthand and recognizes their achievements in extraordinary circumstances.
The themes from previous years were:
2016 - "Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status"
2017 - “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers”
2018 - “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher”
2019 - "Young Teachers: The Future of the Profession"
How to celebrate World Teachers’ Day
Students can celebrate this day by giving thanks and showing their appreciation for their teachers in a multitude of ways. From handmade gifts to writing a simple quote or a sincere message to their favorite teacher telling them how much they appreciate the impact they have made on their learning and education can go a long way.
While the rest of the world celebrates World Teachers’ Day on October 5, it is worth noting that in Australia it is observed slightly later on the last Friday of the same month, as it’s usual for schools to already be on holiday on October 5. Some countries, such as India, also celebrate and recognize a day nationally, just as the US celebrates Teachers’ Day in May each year. In India, Teachers’ Day is celebrated on September 5 as it commemorates the birthday of former president Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who was born on September 5, 1888.