We consider the day significant to the efforts to build awareness, understanding and appreciation for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development. We invite and encourage everyone to be a part of the celebrations of the thousands of teachers in this region who dedicate their time and energy to teaching children, young people and adults.
We endorse the theme chosen for this year's celebration 'Teachers for Gender Equality'.
We are of the firm conviction that gender equality is a human right and one that underpins human endeavors for sustainable development, social justice, peace and security, and quality education for all.
We note with concern that even though there exist the enabling legislation, we, in this region, have not fully achieved gender equality. Gender inequality continues to exist, in unions, in education and in society.
Though in most territories in the Caribbean women significantly outnumber men in the membership of teachers union, the participation of women in the leadership of these unions is not in any way closely reflective of that dominance. It is the responsibility of the various unions to ensure that there is full representation and participation of both genders.
We also need to find means to ensure that more men recognize teaching as a profession which they can choose and in which they can earn a descent livelihood for themselves and their families. The relatively low number of males in the teaching profession is cause for concern.
It is also important that we address in a fundamental way the issue of the underachievement of our males in school system. We have an obligation to ascertain that no policy or practice that we carry out in any way contribute to challenges that our males face in our education system. We must continue to be vocal in our quest to maintain an education system that empowers both boys and girls.
It is important to reiterate that a high quality public education is the foundation for creating and sustaining social justice, peace and progress, and teachers are strategically placed at the centre of the process. On this World Teachers Day we make a special appeal to governments, parents, and communities to renew their commitment to teachers and teaching and to commit to equality in education.
It is said that a good teacher is like a candle. It consumes itself to light the way for others. Let us ensure that future generations continue to have their needs met by teachers. Let us all endeavor to be teachers who promote gender equality in our practice in our classrooms.