Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Teachers Must be Empowered

5th October is celebrated as World Teachers’ Day around the world to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendations concerning the status of teachers. The day brings together governments, multi and bilateral organizations, NGOs, private sectors, teachers and experts in the field of teaching. With the adoption of SDG 4 on education, and the dedicated target 4.c, recognizing teachers as key to the achievement of the 2030 Education Agenda, it has become the occasion to mark achievements and reflect on ways to counter the remaining challenges for the promotion of the teaching profession, like the acute shortage of teachers. This year the theme of the day is “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers”.
Teachers in a society can rightly be considered as the builders of a nation because of the important role that they play. They disseminate education and support the young generation in building their characters, personalities and minds. They guide the students through a very important phase of their lives, which can decide their whole future; whether they become well-educated and positive members of the society or they remain illiterate and have negative impact over the society largely depends on the way they are educated by their teachers.
Teachers have the responsibility of not only stuffing the curricula in the minds of the students but supporting them in having better mentality. They have the responsibility of making the students think wisely and stand on their own, instead of making them rely on the words taught to them by others. Students must learn the ways to change their lives and the lives of their fellow beings from their teachers, not only the mathematical formula or the grammatical rules. Teachers must teach the students what paths to follow, instead of making them follow the path they themselves are following.
Unfortunately, that is not what we always see from the teachers. The teachers in our society do not always seem to be the ideal teachers. They lack the skills and the talents that are required by a teacher. They, on certain occasions, even lead the students astray and on many other occasions make them follow everything blindly. They want their students to be obedient and dumb and do not like them questioning much. They consider the agile, motivated and enthusiastic students as ill-disciplined and worthy to be standing outside their classes most of the times. They, in some cases, even beat the students and insult them verbally. They do not treat the students the way they should be treated.
At the same time, there are observations that show that our society does not treat the teachers the way they should be treated. The teaching profession is not given the worth it deserves. Teachers are not paid properly for their tiring job. They cannot feed themselves and their families properly with what they earn through teaching. The training opportunities are very much limited for the teachers. There are only few schools, colleges or universities that pay so that their teachers can be trained. Teachers are expected to be super-humans; much is expected from them while they are not given much as a reward. It is forgotten that teachers have families and they have lives just like all the other people.
It is important that both the responsibilities and the rights of the teachers must be highlighted and debated so that measures can be taken to deal with deteriorating situation properly. Teacher’s Day can be such an opportunity. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the government authorities, the teachers and students can highlight the issues pertinent to the rights and responsibilities of the teachers so that they are able to have better role and contribution in the society and can truly play their role in the lives of the students.
The government has to play a very imperative role regarding heightening the position of teachers and of modern education in our country. Initial commitments by the President Ashraf Ghani were appreciable. He had directed governors to allot land plots to teachers. He had also promised an increase in salaries of teachers and other privileges. He pledged that no one would be allowed to grab the land plots allocated to teachers by the Ministry of Education. He even ordered the Ministry of Interior to take concrete action to vacate the land plots that the Ministry of Education had allotted to teachers, but were grabbed by powerful individuals. However, some of the promises are still promises only. The president had earlier said that a commission comprising representatives from the ministries of education, justice and finance and members of the commission on administrative reforms would bring parity to salaries of teachers and other government servants. However, it is not yet clear how much progress has been made in that regard.
This initiatives were really very promising but there were not real commitments to make them happen. President, himself, would need to monitor the progress in this regard and make sure that the promises do not remain a promises alone because if they are fulfilled, it would be of great support in lifting the morale of the teachers and standard of education within the country.