• UN agencies have called for more investment in teachers on World Teachers’ Day, 5 October.
  • On average, teachers in OECD countries earn 81-96% of the salaries of tertiary-educated workers.
  • Teachers in Luxembourg with more than 15 years’ experience can expect to earn more than £109,000.
  • Fair compensation for teachers is essential to ensuring every child receives a quality education - and to prepare young people for the future of jobs.

It’s been a year and a half since the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close and teachers to start providing lessons online, almost overnight.

Throughout the height of lockdowns, many teachers also continued to provide in-person education to children of key workers. And as schools have reopened in countries where measures have eased, high levels of interaction with students continues to put teachers at risk of exposure to COVID-19.

All of this is taking a toll: A recent survey of teachers in Singapore found that 80% said the pandemic had impacted their mental health, due to the added workload and pressures.

This World Teachers’ Day, 5 October, UNESCO, UNICEF and the International Labour Organization have jointly called for greater investment in the teaching profession.

"We are calling on countries to invest in them and prioritize them in global education recovery efforts so that every learner has access to a qualified and supported teacher," said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization, Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, and David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International.

The highest-paid teachers in the world

Globally, teachers’ salaries vary hugely, according to the OECD’s Education At A Glance 2021 report. On average, teachers in OECD countries earn 81-96% of the salaries of tertiary-educated workers.

a graph showing lower secondary teachers' average income salaries compared to the statutory starting and top of the scale salaries (2020)
Teachers' salaries vary hugely across the world.
Image: How lower secondary teachers’ salaries compare

In general, teachers’ salaries increase with the level of education they teach, so teachers with more than 15 years’ experience can expect to earn an average of $48,025 at primary level, rising to $49,701 at lower secondary and $51,917 at upper secondary.

In Luxembourg, lower secondary teachers with more than 15 years’ experience, can expect to earn more than $109,000, with Germany and the Netherlands among other high-paying countries.

At the other end of the scale is the Slovak Republic, where teachers at the same level, with the same experience can expect to earn less than a quarter of this - at around $19,000.

Why teachers’ pay matters

Education providers need to recruit and retain the best-quality teachers to close learning gaps and ensure every child has access to a quality education, which is the UN’s fourth Sustainable Development Goal.

“Compensation and working conditions are important for attracting, developing and retaining skilled and high-quality teachers and school heads,” says the OECD report.

“It is important for policy makers to carefully consider the salaries and career prospects of teachers as they try to ensure both high-quality teaching and sustainable education budgets.”

What is the World Economic Forum doing to improve digital intelligence in children?

The latest figures show that 56% of 8-12-year-olds across 29 countries are involved in at least one of the world's major cyber-risks: cyberbullying, video-game addiction, online sexual behaviour or meeting with strangers encountered on the web.

Using the Forum's platform to accelerate its work globally, #DQEveryChild, an initiative to increase the digital intelligence quotient (DQ) of children aged 8-12, has reduced cyber-risk exposure by 15%.

In March 2019, the DQ Global Standards Report 2019 was launched – the first attempt to define a global standard for digital literacy, skills and readiness across the education and technology sectors.

The 8 Digital Citizenship Skills every child needs
The 8 Digital Citizenship Skills every child needs
Image: DQ Institute

Our System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Media, Information and Entertainment has brought together key stakeholders to ensure better digital intelligence for children worldwide. Find our more about DQ Citizenship in our Impact Story.

As countries look to accelerate the economic recovery from COVID-19, skilling and upskilling young people and workers will be hugely important for the future.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 predicts that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines.

But some 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms - and this is where key ‘human’ soft skills like problem-solving will be key.