“Today, as the global community comes together around the new 2030 Agenda, the role teachers play has never have been more important,” said the heads of key UN agencies in a joint statement on the Day.Quality teachers are increasingly recognized as the most important factor in children’s learning- and thus, in improving educational attainment levels, increasing the ability of young people to participate in society and today’s knowledge economies, boosting productivity and prosperity.The statement was issued by UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova; UN International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Director-General, Guy Ryder; UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Anthony Lake; UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Administrator, Helen Clark; and Fred van Leeuwen, the General Secretary of Education International, which represents teachers’ organizations across the globe.The statement underscored the mounting shortage of quality teachers, unequal distribution of trained teachers, and inadequate or non-existent national standards for the teaching profession.These are all key contributing factors to wide equity gaps in access and learning. According to estimates compiled by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, to achieve universal primary education by 2020, countries will need to recruit a total of 10.9 million primary teachers.“This is a global education crisis in the making – unless we act,” said the officials, noting that the looming crisis was recognized at the 2015 World Education Forum, in Incheon, South Korea, where leaders committed to “ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.The new global education goal, Sustainable Development Goal 4, which is at the heart of the Education 2030 Agenda, call for “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”“Realizing this goal is critical to achieving all our global development targets – for strong societies depend on well-educated citizens and a well-trained workforce. But we can only realize this agenda if we invest in recruiting, supporting, and empowering teachers,” explained the UN agency heads.In a separate statement on the Day, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) highlighted the key roles teachers play in empowering students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century and better connect with people and experiences beyond their borders. “Being well-trained, dedicated, enthusiastic and interactive, our teachers are reshaping the future of our school children. The ways our teachers are working through the reform are being noted beyond UNRWA,” said Caroline Pontefract, Director of Education at UNRWA. This year’s celebrations give the Agency an important opportunity to recognize the important work of UNRWA teachers, who continue to deliver quality education despite the many difficulties the face, including the ongoing crisis in Syria and last year’s devastating conflict in Gaza, as well as an unprecedented funding shortfall in the Agency’s core programming budget had risked a delay in the school year in Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank, Syria and Lebanon. World Teachers’ Day, held annually since 1994, commemorates the anniversary of the signing in 1966 of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers, and celebrates the essential role of teachers in providing quality education at all levels. The Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers has, essentially, served as a charter of rights for teachers worldwide.
Leahy hits the stage at the Centre for the Arts for two shows in December. When Leahy takes to the Centre for the Arts stage in December, it will be much like coming home.The perennial favourite performing siblings will host their Family Christmas, an homage to the holidays with some of the group’s folk hits thrown into the mix, during a sold out evening performance on Thursday, Dec. 20 and a matinee on Friday, Dec. 21.Coming back to Niagara was an easy sell for Leahy – something that just felt like being at home, where, as children, the band often sang and performed for guests, pianist Erin Leahy said.“The theatre is itself unique in the way it’s designed. No. 1, it feels as though we are all in one living room so it’s a very natural setting for us because we’re one family and grew up playing music right beside each other,” she said.This year’s shows will have a distinctly family feel for another reason. Children will be part of the program that, in addition to festive tunes and the band’s own standards, will include new music from a CD currently in the works.“We like to show what a true Christmas is to us and that involves children, and the scene will be very much like it is at home,” Leahy said.John McDermott is another performer who feels at home on the Centre for the Arts stage. This gold-and-platinum-selling artist said for over twenty years, Niagara has always offered him a warm welcome.“You don’t take loyalty lightly,” McDermott said. In return, he promises a performance different than previous years’ offerings when he takes the stage on Dec. 9. Soulful Messiah comes to Brock in time for the holidays. He’ll be bringing his band comprised of Jason Fowler (Guitar), George Koller (Bass) and Gary Craig (Drums) plus special guest and “wonderful storyteller” Michael Peter Smith, who penned one of McDermott’s favourite songs to sing “The Dutchman.”“It won’t necessarily be all Christmas. It’ll be stories… stories that relate to songs themselves,” McDermott promised.Fans will also be treated to McDermott performing selections from a new Christmas album, with pieces written between 1550 and 1800. These Polish and Welsh classics feature the piano, cello, harp and clarinet. “Some are familiar and some aren’t,” he said. That goes for some of the performers on this year’s holiday roster, too.Toronto’s Ballet Creole brings its moves and mix of Caribbean, African, blues, jazz and soul sounds in Soulful Messiah.on Friday, Dec. 7.It’s a modern and moving take on the Handel classic that has been transformed into a dynamic 70-minute performance to the R&B sounds of a Qunicy Jones-produced soundtrack, featuring the voices of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight.“It’s based on a language of music taken from Handel’s Messiah in a really funky way. We’ve changed Handel’s Messiah into a pop, soulful expression,” said Patrick Parson, Ballet Creole’s artistic director and choreographer. “It’s kind of a curry expression of Handel’s Messiah.”It’s also one that will feature a Niagara connection. Niagara native David Cox, formerly of STOMP, will be a guest tap dancer in Soulful Messiah.Sex and the City fans may want to don their Manolo Blahniks to tap their toes when New York City’s The Klezmatics come to town Thursday, Dec. 13.The Klezmatics are sure to get your toes tapping with their Klezmer music. Famous for their lively and colourful Eastern European Jewish tunes that have earned them a Grammy Award and a spot on the popular TV series about the quartet of New York singles, The Klezmatics promise a thrilling, worldly and harmonious start to the holiday season.If you’re not familiar with the rhythms and harmonies of klezmer music, it resembles jazz in its inventiveness, folk in its deep roots and dance music in its celebratory tone.The Klezmatics are the klezmer band. The Wall Street Journal asserts that “The Klezmatics have owned klezmer and Yiddish music for the past 25 years.”Their music is timeless. So no need to worry if those designer pumps are last season.All tickets are on sale now from the Centre for the Arts Box Office or online.