World Teachers Day may have been Monday, but the need for great teachers is far from over. In fact, the United Nations estimates that the world will need to recruit nearly 11 million new primary teachers over the next five years in order to meet the Millennium Development Goal of reaching universal primary education. What's more, the brunt of this teacher shortage falls on the poorest communities, whether in inner cities throughout the United States or in rural villages across the world.
Quality education -- or its absence -- underpins so much of what we are trying to achieve as a global community. From economic growth, to fighting climate change, to curing diseases and creating good jobs, it all goes back to making sure our children have the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive as they transition into adulthood. Without quality teachers, this challenge is magnified to an extraordinary degree, robbing the world of its greatest asset in the fight for a promising future: an educated people.
To solve the challenges of tomorrow, we must nurture the young minds of today.
On this, most everyone agrees.
But an interesting debate has emerged in popular discussions about those challenges of tomorrow, and the kind of skills and jobs needed to meet them. Many argue that technology will save the day, and help us further advance our educational mission to prepare students for a changing world ahead. We think that job belongs to others: teachers.
Technology can, of course, provide enormous benefits in the realm of education.
In fact, this synergy is already happening in schools and universities around the world.
Look no further than massive open online courses, or MOOCS, which deliver college classes on a wide range of subjects to virtual audiences around the world for little or zero cost. Or, consider the way software helps schools and school districts from pre-K to grad school attract, train, and retain the best teacher talent. There is no doubt technology can, does, and will continue to play an extraordinary role in enhancing the quality and availability of education for learners around the globe.
The key is bringing teachers and technology into alignment. We need to empower the former by harnessing the later.
So, as we move forward from World Teachers Day, let us recommit to providing every student with a quality teacher who can hone their full talent and potential. As we do that, let us also draw on the enormous power of technology to help human teachers nurture human minds.
If we are to meet the goal of preparing the world's children for the challenges that lie ahead, technology and human talent must work together.
Kermit S. Randa is chief executive officer of PeopleAdmin, the leader in cloud-based talent management solutions for education and government. He has twenty years of executive experience leading firms in the software industry.