SAVE THE DATE: Reimagining Teachers and Teacher Education for Our Futures Conference 18-20 June 2024


Reimagining Teachers and Teacher Education for Our Futures
18 – 20 June 2024

The Conference is organized and hosted by the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki and its UNESCO Chairs professor Hannele Niemi and professor Arto Kallioniemi in collaboration with the UNITWIN UNESCO network on Teacher Education for Social Justice and Diversity.

The UNESCO International Commission on the Futures of Education produced a seminal report 'Reimagining our futures together: A new social contract for education' in 2021. The report highlighted the crucial role of teachers not only in providing quality instruction, but also in shaping the critical, transversal skills that are necessary for our futures.

Pressures on teachers are tremendous. The quest for quality education requires teachers to transform pedagogy in response to the need to develop 21st century competences. Improved access to education means an increasing number of students, necessitating an increase in the number of teachers. However, recruiting teachers is not easy as the teaching profession is not always an attractive option in many contexts. Teachers balance between expectations of education authorities and demands from parents and custodians, while at the same time managing large classrooms and providing personalized instruction. They deal with the impact of emergencies and crises while building hope for the future. Many teachers, moreover, work in remote or low-resource schools with little collegial support or opportunities for professional development.

Education systems across the world have increasingly agreed on common objectives and targets for education as defined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4. Education has become a mission through which global ideologies and ideas as well as local-based needs and realities are faced. Today, however, socially, culturally and ethnically diverse communities are more apparent than ever before, and teachers find themselves caught between global demands and local realities. So, how might education systems address the tensions between the global and the local? Whose voices matter in defining what is important in education? Can our sites of education be inclusive of all or just inclusive of some? What should teacher education do in order to prepare and support current and future teachers?

In this conference we ask in what ways can research meet the four major challenges faced by current education systems as outlined by the United Nations Transforming Education Summit in 2022? These challenges are: 1) A shortage of teachers and other education professionals. 2) Difficulties in ensuring adequate qualifications. 3) The low status of the teaching profession and poor working conditions. 4) A lack of opportunities to develop teacher autonomy, leadership and innovation.

The Reimagining Teachers and Teacher Education for Our Futures conference will explore the future of the teaching profession and teachers' work. Teachers' work is full of tensions, but it also offers paths towards greater social equality. In what ways can teachers' pre- and in-service education prepare them for the future?

The following sub-themes provide suggestions for how the conference theme might be approached:


Teachers' access to information, resources and support in low-resource and/or remote contexts: the use of technology, teachers' professional development, the availability of pedagogical resources and expertise

  • The language of instruction vs. the language of communities: the implications of teacher education and teaching practice.
  • The teacher's role in ensuring access to all learners: how to foster inclusive learning environments and ensure access to the curriculum and participation for all.

Equality and equity

  • The opportunities and challenges of dealing with cultural, social, economic, religious, worldview, linguistic and gender diversity in the teaching profession.
  • Who are the teachers of the future? The recruitment of teachers from minorities, disadvantaged and Indigenous populations; achieving gender balance in the teaching profession.
  • How to attract experienced teachers to hard-to-staff schools?

Emergencies and crises

  • Building resilience in teacher education.
  • The teacher's role in times of emergency or crisis: prevention, mitigation and recovery.
  • Support for teachers: providing coaching and mentorship; supporting mental health needs.

The Conference will be held at the Helsinki City Center Campus. The Conference language is English. Abstract submission will open in October 2023.

The Conference will gather researchers, teacher educators, teachers, representatives of civil organizations, policy makers and all actors involved in building a sustainable society through education.

You are warmly welcome.

Hannele Niemi
UNESCO Chair on Educational Ecosystems for Equity and Quality of Learning

Arto Kallioniemi
UNESCO Chair on Values, Dialogue and Human Rights