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La Educación
Número: (118) II
Año: 1994

6. INTERNATIONAL LABOR OFFICE. Teachers in Developing Countries. A Survey of Development Conditions. Geneva: International Labor Office, 1991, 167 p., notes, illustrations, annexes, tables, contents.

This book basically reflects the fundamental and varied role of teachers in national development and the growing difficulty for these countries, as a result of their limited resources, to meet the immense needs of a rapidly expanding school population. Chapter 1 reproduces some basic data and refers to certain aspects of the labor market, in particular teacher shortages and, in some cases, surpluses in developing countries. This is followed by two chapters devoted to career problems and disciplinary procedures, respectively. Chapter 4 deals with labor relations. Chapters 5 to 7 cover working time, remuneration, and working conditions in the teaching profession. Finally, Chapters 8 and 9 outline the specific problems of women teachers and private school teachers.

One conclusion is that perhaps one of the human dimensions of the problem, namely the integral function of teachers in the development process, is not taken sufficiently into account. This function is to a large extent dependent on three factors. The first factor is the teachers’ faith in the value of their own personal contribution. This is a function of individual character and education, and of the intellectual and moral satisfaction derived from teaching. The second factor is related to the material compensation they are entitled to expect. Such compensation is costly; even more costly where teachers are numerous. The question therefore arises: Can society afford to pay this price, bearing in mind the other basic needs that must be satisfied? Due to the importance of the issues at stake, however, another question needs to be answered at the same time: Can society afford not to pay this price? Finally, the third factor is teachers’ participation through their organizations in both the formulation of education policy and in the determination of their own working conditions. Teachers, who are educated and responsible people, do not willingly agree with decisions made in the education field without being consulted, particularly if such decisions have a major impact on their material situation and on the work to which they have devoted their lives.

This book is a very interesting study. The reading is highly recommended to all those concerned with the role of teachers and with public policy on education.

Mónica G. Luque