Education and Solidarity Network
Education personnel
Mental health

The I-BEST 2023 Barometer provides an international perspective on the health and well-being of education staff and calls for action

Education and Solidarity Network
October 17, 2023

The results of the second edition of the International Barometer of Educational Staff Health and Well-being (I-BEST) were delivered on 10 October 2023, providing valuable insight into the challenges faced by education staff around the world in the course of their work.

The speakers linked the key factors in the shortage of teachers worldwideto the lack of appeal of theteaching profession,even though the profession was socially considered to be the best in the world. In the face of long-standing challengesto the profession and new socio-political issues, the speakers also highlighted how the I-BEST has become an internal and external advocacy tool for the well-being ofprofessionals, within schools, at a time when vocations are dwindling.

During the webinar presenting the results of I-BEST 2023, participants questioned the meaning and experience of educational communities around the world. Following on from this, participants were invited to share good practice in promoting the health and well-being of educational staff.

The results of I-BEST 2023: an overview of current challenges in the health and well-being of education staff

The I-BEST 2023 survey offers a unique international perspective on the health and well-being of education workers, complementing other surveys such as Talis (Teaching and learning international survey), which focuses on teachers’ professional practices and working conditions.

This biennial survey has been conducted since 2021 by the Education and Solidarity Network and the Foundation for Public Health, in partnership with Education International and the UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education.

In 2021, 8,000 teachers from 6 territories on 3 continents took part in the first edition.

In 2023, thanks to all our members, partners and the national and trade union organizations we present in this dedicated article, the 2nd edition of the International Barometer of the Health and Well-being of Education Workers reached more than 26,000 education workerswho responded to the questionnaire distributed online from February to June in 13 territories on 4 continents: Japan, Taipei, Morocco, Cameroon, France, Spain, United Kingdom, Switzerland (Cantons of Geneva and Vaud), French-speaking Belgium, Argentina, Quebec and Canada.

How have education staff been since the Covid-19 crisis? What impact is digital technology having on their health at work?

The results of the first edition of I-BEST showed clearly that teachers around the world have been affected by the health crisis. They also suggested that while the Covid-19 crisis had disrupted the fragile work/life balance that existed, it had also exacerbated pre-existing issues in the teaching sector. In particular, those relating to societal appreciation, staff pay and the worrying trivialization of violence in schools.

Didier Jourdan, holder of the UNESCO Chair Global Health and Education and of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research in Health and Education, describes the context:

“We are facing a major challenge: there are still 43 million teachers needed to achieve UNESCO’s 2030 objectives of primary and secondary education for all. As we all know, and this also applies to the world of health, there can be no equitable and inclusive education or health without the women and men to deliver it“.

The results of the second edition, for 2023, also clearly show that there has been no overall change in the situation, even though local realities remain unique and varied.

The following global trends emerge from the report:

  • Overall, the use of digital technology is well established, although it remains a source of stress for staff.
  • Job dissatisfactionremains high, despite an overall workload of around 40 hours a week
  • The school climate and social relations at work are a resource to be exploited and developed further
  • The quality of life of teachers in the countries surveyed is mixed: their health is generally good, but the decline in their mental health is a cause for concern.

For a more in-depth analysis of I-BEST 2023, consult the full set of I-BEST 2023 results:

Our webinar: a forum for exchanging ideas and solutions

The webinar presenting the results of I-BEST 2023 brought together experts, education staff, policymakers, trade union organizations and education advocates from around the world. Speakers Chris Castle (UNESCO), Olivier Liang (ILO), Mike Thiruman (EI, UN) and Andreas Schleicher (OECD) shared their perspectives on the Barometer data and discussed measures to improve the lives of education workers.

The panelists generally agreed that the I-BEST 2023 results highlight how the physical and mental health of education staff is a major global issue in achieving quality education for pupils. They also highlight the need to promote better mental health among staff and to improve their working conditions at a time when these are deteriorating.

“The Barometer is a tool designed to support discussions and negotiations between employers, management and unions. It sheds light on teachers’ feelings and difficulties, and this is essential if we are to devise solutions and courses of action to improve their working conditions at a time when vocations are dwindling.

We face a dual challenge: to help existing teachers to fulfil their potential, but also to make the profession more attractive so as to attract new teachers to the profession“.

Matthias Savignac, President of the Education and Solidarity Network

Didier Jourdan, holder of the UNESCO Chair Global Health and Education, made the same observation about the lack of attractiveness of education, before giving an overview of the challenges facing education:

“If we’re short of teachers today, it’s largely because we have a problem with the attractiveness of the profession. We need to enable young people in particular to enter a profession that will give meaning to their lives and enable them to contribute to the common good.

Today’s challenge for current and future teachers is the quality of life at work, well-being and social protection.

I would also like to point out that when it comes to the health of adolescents in schools, and more generally the promotion of health in schools, it is important to remember that one of the key factors in the favourable development of our education systems towards taking account of the mental health and well-being of pupils is the health of teachers.

Today, bringing to the fore issues relating to the health and well-being of teachers is an absolutely major challenge, and this is the reason for the commitment of the UNESCO Chair and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Education and Health to trade union organizations, the ESN and the Public Health Foundation.

Didier Jourdan, holder of the UNESCO Chair Global Health and Education

Andreas Schleicher, Director of the OECD’s Directorate for Education and Skills, emphasized the complementarity and convergence of the results of I-BEST 2023 with the 2008 Talis survey in particular. He therefore deplored the fact that the situation had not changed and remained alarming. He said:  

“It’s quite disturbing to see that these results haven’t changed much. In 2008, the results were virtually the same as the I-BEST 2023 results.

Andreas Schleicher, Director of the OECD’s Directorate for Education and Skills

That’s why Didier Jourdan’s statement about the work of I-BEST makes so much sense. He concluded his address to the webinar by saying:

“I must say that we are very proud of the work that has been done and that it shows the way forward“.

Didier Jourdan, holder of the UNESCO Chair Global Health and Education

Watch the whole webinar here

Many of you have contributed to the discussion of these results in the comments. That’s why we’re asking you again today to make your voice heard.

Call for action: contribute to our ideas box on initiatives to be developed to enhance staff well-being

A central element of the webinar was the insight gained from the experience and feelings of staff. The weakening of their mental health stood out. We are therefore launching the I-BEST Ideas Box to collect your concrete initiatives to support the well-being of education staff, such as stress management tools, mental health resources, decent working conditions and other measures needed to improve the lives of those who shape the future of our societies.

By uniting our voices and taking action, we can make a real difference to the lives of education staff and, by extension, to the education of children.

If you have any questions about I-BEST, please contact:


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