South Asia must recruit about 15 million new teachers to be able to meet the goal of universal education by 2030, a new report released by the UN on Tuesday said.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (UNESCO)Institute for Statistics launched its ''Valuing Teachers, Improving Their Status'' report to mark World Teachers'' Day.
It is the first time estimates have been published showing the number of teachers that will need to be recruited to meet the target of providing education for all, agreed by UN member countries in 2015 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Silvia Montoya, director, UNESCO Institute of Statistics, said: "Countries across the region are gearing up for the big push to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 by 2030. But education systems are only as good as their teachers."
"Progress could depend on, first, whether there even is a teacher, or a classroom in which to teach. Second, on whether that teacher walks into the classroom with the training, resources and support they need to do their job. And third, on whether they are greeted by a manageable number of children instead of 60, 70 or even more pupils," Montoya said.
A total of 68.8 million teachers will need to be recruited worldwide by 2030 if the ambition of every child receiving a primary and secondary education is to be achieved, according to the latest figures.
UK-based education charity Varkey Foundation said that better pay would attract more talented individuals into the profession and get them to stay.
Vikas Pota, CEO of the foundation which runs the annual Global Teacher Prize, said: "We already know that better pay will attract the best graduates into the profession and give them an incentive to stay. A 10 per cent increase in teacher's pay tends to result in a five to 10 per cent increase in pupil performance".
"Given the stretched finances of developing world governments, the international community has a responsibility to help fund this which is why it is such a disgrace that international education aid has been in decline since 2010," the report said.
According to the report, the Southern Asia region which covers countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan faces the second-largest shortage of teachers.
The average pupil-teacher ratio stands at 34:1 in primary education and 29:1 (2014 estimates) in secondary education far higher than the global average of 18:1.
The report also highlights that beyond just hiring more teachers, it is also important that these new recruits are well-trained, well-qualified and properly paid.