By Johnny Wood
GENEVA - A new study by the Varkey Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that aims to improve education for underprivileged children, gauges how respected teachers are in 35 economies around the world.
For its Global Teacher Status Index 2018, the organization asked over 1,000 people in each economy for their views on the profession, and ranked them on a 0-100 scale.
The findings reveal that teachers enjoy the highest status in China, where they score a perfect 100. The profession is also held in high regard in Malaysia.
But teachers in Japan, which has a score of below 40, are much less respected than their peers in the other Asian economies surveyed.
The situation is far worse, however, in Brazil and Israel, where the teaching profession gets status marks of just 1 and 6.5 respectively.
The status of teachers in the top- and bottom-ranked countries hasn’t changed much since the Varkey Foundation published its last index in 2013.
Japan’s and Switzerland’s scores increased by over 20 from the 2013 edition, and the UK’s rose by 10. Greece, however, experienced a drop of 25.
A matter of respect
As well as highlighting diverse national attitudes towards the teaching profession, the survey also identified general trends across the 35 economies:
Older people respect teachers more
Graduates respect teachers more than non-graduates
Men respect teachers more than women
Parents respect teachers more than people without children
Those of Islamic faith respect teachers more
Where kids are encouraged to become teachers
The survey asked parents if they would encourage their children to aspire to become teachers. Those in India, China, Ghana and Malaysia are most likely to encourage their kids to pursue a teaching career.
Surprisingly, in the US – where teachers’ pay is significantly lower than that of comparable college-educated professionals – a high number of parents are keen for their children to become teachers.
The survey showed high levels of pessimism about student attitudes in Europe, with respondents believing more pupils disrespected their teachers than respected them. The outlook was more positive in Asia, Africa and the Middle East – 80% of respondents in China thought students respected their teachers, against a 36% country average.
In the coming years, teachers will play an important role in preparing young people for the technological advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, from the Internet of Things, to artificial intelligence and robotics.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018 says that workers whose jobs are displaced by automation will need help to retrain or upskill.
But the rapid changes to the labour market are likely to bring challenges for educators, too. The report points to the need for investment in improved education and training systems, along with new labour market policies and business approaches, capable of meeting the needs of the future of work.
By Emma Batha
LONDON - Aid agencies are bracing for a challenging new year as they tackle protracted conflicts from Yemen to Central African Republic and get to grips with escalating crises such as the mass exodus of Venezuelans fleeing turmoil at home.
The United Nations has asked donors for $21.9 billion to address 21 humanitarian crises in 2019, including Yemen, its biggest aid operation. This appeal does not include Syria which is expected to bring the total to $25 billion. We asked aid agencies to name their 3 priorities for 2019.
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES - Elhadj As Sy, secretary general
1) Getting ready for the next pandemic. 2018 saw Ebola, 2017 Zika and Lassa. What's next? Our priorities: community engagement, emergency health care, water and sanitation services to protect against disease.
2) Protecting the "missing millions". Migrants on the move, women and children, disabled people: our research has quantified those who are left out of humanitarian response.
3) Being ready for more climate-related shocks and hazards. Supporting adaptation to build resilience; activating early warning systems and early action; building on innovative approaches like forecast-based financing.
OCHA - Mark Lowcock, U.N. humanitarian chief
1) Close the persistent funding gap between what we receive and need to respond. The record $14.3 billion that generous donors provided for U.N.-coordinated humanitarian response plans this year meets only 57 percent of needs.
2) Practical measures to improve warring parties' respect for international humanitarian law. I'll bolster civil-military capability to help facilitate compliance.
3) Implement stronger measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse within the aid community.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME - Corinne Woods, communications director
1) Scaling up our food assistance to meet the needs of millions of hungry people in Yemen, with particular attention to the women and children on whom malnutrition is taking a toll.
2) Working with governments and other partners to help rebuild the livelihoods and strengthen the resilience of millions around the world whose lives are being torn apart by conflict and climate change.
3) Harnessing the latest in digital technology, including blockchain and biometrics, to move the fight against food insecurity into a different gear and take us towards a world of zero hunger.
SAVE THE CHILDREN - Daniele Timarco, humanitarian director
1) Yemen: Some 85,000 children under five may have died of starvation and disease. All involved need to step up to help bring an end to this conflict.
2) Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): This is one of the most complex humanitarian crises, which includes the second largest Ebola outbreak ever. 2019 will be a decisive year, in which the downward spiral can hopefully be stopped.
3) Venezuela/Colombia: An estimated 1.5 million Venezuelans have crossed into Colombia, 60 percent of whom are children at risk of disease, trafficking, exploitation or recruitment.
OXFAM - Nigel Timmins, humanitarian director
1) In Yemen, the U.N. is warning that we could see the world's worst famine in 100 years. Already over 8 million people are at emergency hunger levels. This is a man-made disaster fuelled by all sides in the conflict.
2) The DRC Ebola outbreak continues to worsen. Once it's under control, we must rebuild lives and communities. Ebola outbreaks impact local economies, and survivors and their families suffer stigma.
3) The situation in South Sudan is likely to deteriorate in 2019. By March, it's estimated 4-5 million people will be in hunger with 26,000-36,000 in famine conditions.
ACTIONAID - Rachid Boumnijel, acting head of humanitarian response
1) DRC: In 2019, the international community must urgently redouble its efforts to end this conflict. It's also vital to end the deplorable use of rape as a 'weapon of war'.
2) The Rohingya refugee crisis: We're working with Rohingya refugee women who've survived terrible sexual violence – and they're telling us they want safety, justice and some control over their future. It's vital that they're not forced to return.
3) Yemen: This catastrophic conflict has pushed ordinary people to the brink of mass famine. The hostilities need to end.
CARE INTERNATIONAL UK - Tom Newby, head of humanitarian
1) Climate change: We're already seeing the impacts and it's clear now that so much is irreversible. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report was quite frightening in its warning that we only have 12 years to limit catastrophe.
2) Yemen: We need a political solution and end to fighting.
3) Refugees: It's crucial that we see a global commitment to both the spirit and the words of the global refugee and migration compacts, and make sure states do not just cherry-pick the bits they like and ignore the rest.
INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE - Sanj Srikanthan, senior vice president
1) Yemen: 20.5 million civilians are on the brink of famine. The alarming lack of political will to find a solution to the conflict means no one can claim to be surprised by the severity of this crisis – it's as predictable as it's preventable.
2) South Sudan: Despite a peace agreement in 2018, the threat of a re-escalation of civil war persists and the humanitarian impact would be disastrous.
3) Nigeria: In 2018 Nigeria overtook India as the country with the world's largest number of poor people. Attacks by armed groups are on the increase and elections in February could destabilise the situation further.
ISLAMIC RELIEF WORLDWIDE - Naser Haghamed, CEO
1) Political will to end conflicts in Myanmar, Syria and Yemen. These three countries, more than others, have defined humanitarian action for all NGOs over the past decade. Without sincere and decisive action they may yet drag into the next decade.
2) Improve humanitarian access. NGOs have seen the humanitarian space shrink in several conflict areas including Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, putting aid workers at risk and depriving people of essential supplies.
3) Meet the funding target of the OCHA Humanitarian Response Plan. The current scale of human suffering is greater than at any time since the Second World War.
MERCY CORPS - Craig Redmond, senior vice president for programmes
1) We must better understand and combat the root causes of conflict in places like DRC, Central African Republic (CAR) and Nigeria through improved governance, addressing past grievances and equitable economic growth.
2) Making markets work in crisis. As conflicts are now more protracted than two decades ago, it's an urgent priority that we enable affected people and communities to take control of their recovery through local systems, and reduce dependence on relief.
3) Providing opportunity to young people. With the DRC election result likely in the new year and the Nigeria election planned for February, the two countries with the most people living in poverty could potentially see major political shifts. We must ensure young people feel included and have prospects.
CARITAS - Michel Roy, secretary general
1) Work to improve the welcome of migrants and lessen their social exclusion.
2) Push for more ambitious targets on limiting global warming to no higher than 1.5 degrees.
3) Push for peace in Israel and occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, CAR and Cameroon.
NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL - Jan Egeland, secretary general
1) We will strive to become better at reaching people in war-zones and hard-to-reach areas with protection and assistance, as these are the places where too many suffer alone.
2) We will prioritise neglected crises to ensure people get support based on needs, and not political or media interest.
3) We will work for durable solutions, so that refugees can return safely home in a voluntary and dignified way or be integrated where they are now. We expect to see the first voluntary returns to parts of Syria next year, and we must be prepared to assist.
LONDON - It was the year The Avengers topped the movie charts, France won the World Cup for the second time and Prince Harry married Meghan Markle.
It was also the year of the strong jobs market and booming electric vehicle sales as well as rising temperatures, accelerating deforestation and deadly wildfires. Here’s a selection of key charts that answer the question - what happened in 2018?
1. US jobless rate hits 49-year low
The last time US unemployment was this low was around the time Diana Ross and Elvis topped the Billboard chart. The jobless rate was 3.7% in November, according to the US Labor Department, staying at its lowest level since 1969 for a third month. Looking ahead to 2019 such a hot labour market is likely to fuel wage growth, strengthening the case for the Federal Reserve to keep increasing interest rates.
2. Summers are getting hotter
It wasn’t just the US jobs market that got hotter in 2018, temperatures were on the up as well. Climate Central, a US-based climate change research organization, analysed past temperature records for June, July and August across the US and found a dramatic increase in both rural and urban locations in 2017 compared with 1970. Climate change has been a burning political and social topic for some time, and that doesn’t look set to change next year.
3. China’s love affair with electric cars blossomed
China is the fastest adopter of electric vehicles (EVs) worldwide, and its demand is forecast to keep growing. In China, EVs will account for 19% of all passenger vehicle sales, compared to 14% in Europe and 11% in the US, according to Bloomberg's Electric Vehicles Outlook 2018.
4. Carbon emissions soar
Global carbon emissions will soar to a record high in 2018, according to research from the Global Carbon Project, which attributed the increase to more cars and an uptick in coal use. The 10 biggest emitters are China, the US, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Canada. The EU as a whole region of countries ranks third. Even so, the research team said trends are changing and there is still time to address climate change, if the right efforts are made.
5. Deforestation accelerated
Brazil's Amazon rainforest was destroyed at the fastest pace in a decade, according to government data. Data collected from satellite images for the year ending in July showed 7,900 square kilometers of forest were cleared, up around 14% from a year earlier. Separate data showed the extent to which illegal mining of gold and diamonds is part of the problem, with Venezuela and Brazil among the worst affected.
6. Wildfires became more deadly
California suffered its deadliest ever wildfire and, separately, its biggest ever, in what was the worst wildfire year on record. While wildfires have always been part of several US states’ natural ecology, they seem to be growing in severity and frequency. And the US is not the only country to suffer: countries including the UK, Portugal and Greece all experienced major fires in their countryside this summer and all occurred during sustained heatwaves.
7. Bitcoin took a bath
Bitcoin plummeted in value amid concern regulators could crack down on cryptocurrencies and institutional investment failed to materialize. Prices have dropped more than 80% from last year’s record high. What’s in store for 2019? Watch this space.
8. Brexit rocked financial markets
Volatility in British financial markets soared, fueled by uncertainty about the state of the nation’s exit from the European Union. With the clock running down and UK lawmakers seemingly unable to agree on a way forward, 2019 may be rocky. As for what’s next, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has said price swings will continue as long as uncertainty abounds.
9. The world got less peaceful
The average level of global peacefulness declined, according to the 2018 Global Peace Index, with 92 countries deteriorating and only 71 improving. According to the UNHCR, there are now almost 70 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, around 1% of the world's population and the highest number in modern history.
10. The internet continued to captivate us all
This chart showing a minute of online activity in 2018 encapsulates the internet’s vast scale. The infographic from Lori Lewis and Chadd Callahan of Cumulus Media shows how much happens on different platforms in each 60-second span, underscoring the scope of activity.