Fifty-eight million children are not in primary school because they don’t have teachers. How many new teachers are needed to fix this? Four million, says the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and 12 million by 2020.

The problem is worst in sub-Saharan Africa, where already seven in 10 countries have run short. And if trends hold, only half of the 93 countries examined by UNESCO will have enough teachers by 2020.

The report’s eAtlas of Teachers shows which countries face shortages.

Teacher and children under overpass, one writing on wall (© AP Images)
A teacher listens to a student read from a blackboard at a free school for poor children under a mass transit bridge in New Delhi. (© AP Images)

Why the teacher shortage?

More families want their children to go to school. That’s good, but governments are struggling to keep up. In some countries, the cost of building new schools, buying books and training new teachers can be $1 billion or more.

The training part’s important. Poorly trained teachers produce badly educated students. Fortunately, there are programs that can help. The U.S. Department of State contributes to the Global Partnership for Education, which has helped train 300,000 teachers in the last decade. And the Fulbright Program allows teachers worldwide to take professional development courses at U.S. universities.

And teachers (students too!) can turn to the Internet. MOOCs (short for massive open online courses) offer instruction in almost any subject area. If access to the Internet is a problem, U.S. embassies and consulates are hosting MOOC Camps in more than 60 countries.