On Friday last week, teachers across the globe gathered to celebrate the World Teachers’ Day, an annual event that easily slips the attention of a mammoth share of the public.
The 2012 motto, ‘take a stand for teachers,’ in my opinion, was a call by all and sundry to ponder over a plethora of issues that continue to dog our society’s education systems as a result of the consistent historic neglect of teachers.
The World Teachers’ Day was inaugurated by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 1994, with an aim of providing an opportunity to draw public attention to the role that teachers play within the society.
WTD further aims at mobilising support for teachers and to ensure the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers.
That is why this year’s motto kind of made a rather unconventional departure from the perennial focus on teachers per se to a holistic approach that aimed at soliciting for communal support.
“Teachers… ultimately determine our collective ability to innovate, to invent, to find solutions for tomorrow. Nothing will ever replace a good teacher. Nothing is more important than supporting them”, said Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General.
Teachers play a significant role in passing on knowledge and skills at all levels yet they continue to lie low in the pecking order. Currently, if you ask a group of ten students who among them wants to be a teacher in future, you will be sure to find the obvious feedback – none.
In the early sixties, the teaching profession was highly esteemed and coveted. May parents wanted their children to work hard and become teachers. Some literature documents parents who would stop teachers and ask them if they were beating their children hard in school or thank them for whipping the then mature but virile freedom fighters turned students. The teacher’s word was almost gospel truth. You wouldn’t challenge a teacher.
However, the lofty societal position of teachers continued sinking deeper and deeper as the clock ticked. Dawn swiftly turned into dusk and the teachers’ fortunes petered out.
Yes. Let us take a stand for teachers. Let us change our attitude towards teachers and teaching first. Second, let us begin to recognize the colossal role that education plays in the contemporary society through teachers. Third, let us consciously and deliberately work towards shedding the prejudiced tag that we have strewn on teachers.
All the grievances raised by teachers should not be left on the table. They should be expediently addressed for exquisite returns in education to be obtained.
Issues around relatively lower pay package for teachers compared to other civil servants are an eyesore, prodigious and stagnating. The titanic exodus of teachers from the teaching profession in pursuit of greener pastures is primarily to do with low pay.
The challenges of teaching continue to escalate with the delicate balance between children’s rights and discipline continuing to receive multiple interpretations and even facing imminent abuse. Today’s classroom is a direct opposite of a 1990 classroom. This is why we have to take a stand for teachers.